I know there has been a lot of awards-season buzz about this, so I'm happy to announce that it's true: Gus is guest-posting this week with another special dessert for Valentine's Day.
Wow. It is already time again for my annual culinary paean to St. Valentine. Can you believe it? That year just flew by. Now I know exactly what my wife means when she says that the blog sneaks up on her every week.
The good news is that I am really feeling romantic this year for a change. Why is that, you ask? Truthfully I have no idea. I wish I did. It would be useful to know. If I had to guess I would say that it has to do either with the fact that I have been eating an unusual amount of Turkish food or the fact that I just got back from a trip that took me to several of the sexiest places in the world, including Manchester, England, the Oslo International Airport, and Berlin. Everyone is saying it and as always everyone is right: Berlin in January is hot!
What makes Berlin so sexy? Good gracious, where to begin… I think its many well-kept antiquarian bookshops, its wonderful state-supported facilities for academic research, and its convenience to destinations in Poland all play a role. But I have to tell you honestly that I don’t care as much about those things as most people do.
To my mind, Berlin has three big things going for it. One is the complete absence of irony and sarcasm from everyday social intercourse. Especially coming from New York, it is just so refreshing that everyone says what they mean and means what they say and vice-versa. Let me tell you, it is a lot easier to tell when your conversational partner is joking and when she is actually angry and hurt.
The second thing is that you can still second-hand smoke legally in Berlin bars. I had forgotten how much fun that is. I did get a stubborn sinus infection from all the second-hand smoking I did there, but it was def worth it just to be reminded of what it feels like not only while you are doing it but also the next day. Now that I’m home, whenever I miss Berlin I just smell the coat I wore there.
The topper for me is number three. Everyone who has ever gazed into my deepest soul knows that one of the special me things I keep there is a love of gelatin-based candies and desserts. Berlin is ruling the world gelatin-based candy scene right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were ranked as the number one spot globally. Every time someone in Berlin asked me if I liked EDM, which happened a lot, I would respond by asking if they liked EDG—Eating Die Gummibärchen! What else could I say? I could not for the life of me figure out what “EDM” meant, even though I went through the “E” chapter of my German-English dictionary line by line.
“EDG” gave me “food” for a lot of great convos while I was in Berlin. I do indeed love EDG, and I love talking about it. There’s a lot happening in that industry right now. Haribo, probably the most prestigious gummi bear company in the world to work for, is a German company. Yes, we have Haribo products here, but they really save their most innovative work for the domestic market. With the passion and creative abandon Germans are known for, the artisans who make that enterprise what it is extrude gelatin blends into shapes, colors, and flavors that you really cannot imagine until you have seen and tasted them all. Let’s just say that gummi bears and worms are child’s play. Or actually in Germany they are not child’s play, because Haribo makes pacifier-shaped gummies. There is that storied wit! See what I mean?
My favorite Haribo discovery in Germany was a “neu” (“new”) product called Sauer-und-Süss Bärchen-Pärchen. Two bears, a pair of bears, one sour, one sweet, holding hands. Perfect for V-Day, right? I mean Valentine’s Day, of course, just so all my new German friends are clear.
I liked the Sauer-und-Süss so much that I brought a bag home to share with my own sweet half. Unfortunately the flight home was a lot longer than I expected, and I was very hungry because I ran out of Norwegian Krone in the Oslo airport. The restaurants in the Oslo airport are very expensive, and I mean very. They are also totally empty, I guess because no one goes to the airport just to eat like we do in this country. That really ups the feeling of exclusivity. You know how it feels when you just feel that you are too good for everyone else? That’s the sexy feeling I got from the Oslo International Airport, and that is the feeling I had when I opened the bag of Sauer-und-Süss Bärchen-Pärchen I had bought for my wife and ate just over half of it.
What saved me from being in trouble was that there were just enough pairs of bears left to make her this dessert, one of my old childhood favorites. You will recall that last year I made “hot fudge-it” to put on top of ice cream. My dessert this year is the exact 180-degree opposite of that. Here it is: Sauer-und-Süss gummibärchen mixed into ice cream itself. Boom! Häagen-Dazs Vanilla makes sense on a lot of conceptual levels. It also works well flavor-wise and really makes the colors pop
The technique is a bit tricky and perhaps unfamiliar, so let me lay it out for you. You want to remove the ice cream from the freezer to let it soften a just a smidge. Then scoop it out onto a work surface. Something like a cold stone or a marble slab would work very well I suspect. Flatten the ice cream out into a paste of sorts with a trowel of sorts. Key point: That’s trowel with an “r,” trowel. A towel would not work for this. Empty the almost-half-full bag of gummi bear pairs, or just however many you have left at this point, onto the ice cream. If you’re single go ahead and cut the pairs apart. Fold the gummi bears into the ice cream on the work surface with the towel. Scoop, serve, and savor, because I don’t know when I will be able to go back to Berlin to get more Sauer-und-Süss.
If you will permit a closing personal note, this dessert is extra special to me because it embodies one of my eleven or twelve hard-and-fast rules for marriage. The rule is: A bit of sour heightens the sweet. What do I mean by a bit? That has been the subject of some debate around here. I certainly cannot tell you what balance of sauer und süss will work best in your relationship, but if my own experience is a guide, don’t push too hard to find out. Then, one day when you least expect it, you will learn exactly where the line is. Happy Valentine’s Day!