The home to the famous St Basil’s Cathedral, the inventors of Tetris, and the creators of the delicious snacks we get to try this month, Russia is home to almost 150 million people and is considered to be the world’s largest nation. Though this country has had its fair share of problems with countries such as the United States, this month we’ll only be scratching the surface of this complex country and rather exploring the positives that can be found rather than showcasing what’s already on the news. Aside from being the birthplace of multiple talented individuals each with their own unique story, Russia is also crawling with delicious and unique cuisine. From blackcurrant marshmallows and grapefruit chocolate to shish kabob chips and salmon flavored bread sticks, this month’s yums are as interesting and intriguing as the country they come from.
Holodets and Horseradish Husks
Meat Jelly and Horseradish Rye Breadsticks
To start things off on the right foot, let’s indulge in one of Russia’s most beloved and popular specialties; holodets. If you’re scratching your head wondering what in the world holodets are, keep on reading but vegetarians/vegans, beware. Holodets is the Russian word for meat jelly and this popular dish is made with either pig, cow, or chicken feet which are suspended in gelatin and then topped with horseradish or a spicy mustard. Luckily though, everyone will be able to enjoy this treat as these breadsticks contain no meat whatsoever, rather just the bold and unique flavor of the holodets paired nicely with the tangy horseradish all packed into a crunchy rye breadstick.
Gingerbread with Condensed Milk and Honey
This gingerbread pastry, known is pryanik in Russia, is one of the oldest and most beloved treats in the country. Originally known as ‘honey bread’, this treat was first brought to Russia back in the 9th century by the Egyptians and was made using honey, rye flour, and berry juice. Fast forward to the 13th century and the recipe for the gingerbread pastry was changed up a bit by adding spices such as cinnamon and cardamom from India and the Middle East, into the mixture. The bread became even more popular once the spices were added to the recipe and therefore the name pryanik, meaning ‘spices’ in Russian, was created. The pryanik that we’ll be getting a taste of this month is made by Russia’s oldest gingerbread maker and is known for its unique stamped patterns on the pastry itself as well as the creamy, rich fillings and the shiny, honey glaze.
Red October Krepysh
Soft Toffee with Peanuts
Quite the fitting treat to be included in the October box, this toffee treat is deeply rooted into Russian history. In 1851, an immigrant by the name of Teodore Ferdinand von Einem relocated to Moscow with the dreams of starting his own business which resulted in him opening his very own candy shop not long after moving. By 1913, his business was booming and he was forced to move his business to a bigger shop to keep up with the high demand. Unfortunately for Teodore however, the company was seized during the first World War and was renamed Red October after the famous 1917 government takeover. Not long after that ordeal, during the second World War, the lines of production were switched from sweets to military rations. This lasted right up until 1945, when the company was finally taken back and the Red October went right back to creating treats such as this crumbly, toffee bar filled with ground peanuts.
Chocolate Covered Blackcurrant Marshmallow
Named after Zephyrus, the Greek god of the gentle west wind, the Zefir is one of Russia’s most heavenly desserts. Made with marshmallow meringue, this treat is beloved across the country primarily for its airy and delicate texture reminiscent of a light, summer breeze. These marshmallow treats come in three different variteties including pink, white, and chocolate covered which is the version that we’re tasting this month which is also infused with blackcurrant, a sweet little berry that grows abundantly throughout Russia.
Shashlik Potato Chips
Shish Kabob Flavored Potato Chips
If you’re one of those people wishing that it was still summer outside, these Russian puffed chips will help with that problem by bringing a taste of a Russian summer right to you. These unique chips are packed with the savory taste of Russian shashlik which is a grilled meat shish kabob that is typically enjoyed during the hot summer months. Even though these chips might taste like your typical barbecue, the shashlik is actually made from a special family recipe passed down from generation to generation. While each family’s recipe may differ slightly from each other, the concept stays quite the same with the recipe calling for lamb chunks marinated in a zesty combination of onions, vinegar, and secret spices and even a splash of vodka on occasion, of course.
Korovka Fairy Take Roll Cake
Chocolate Dipped Baked Milk Cake
As plain and simple as it may look, this pasty holds a special place in the heart of many Russians because it not only represents the country’s tough history but also their childhoods. This tender sponge cake originated during the Soviet times and was rolled in thick buttery cream and served in slices. For many years the unique cakes were all famously adorned with elaborate icing swirls, flowers, dried fruit, and homemade chocolate and for many living during the tough times of the Soviet period, their fondest memories were of peering into the lit bakery shop windows and admiring all of the brightly colored cakes. While the iconic cakes are still enjoyed today throughout the country, they are no longer as ornately decorated as they once were back in the day.
Grilled Potatoes with Shallots
Shallot and Potato Flavored Wheat Snacks
While it’s commonly known by many today that Russians love their potatoes in both their food and their drink, up until the mid-18th century, the vegetable was virtually unknown to the country. It wasn’t until they were imported from America, that the Russians first caught a glimpse of them. By the turn of the 20th century, potatoes were all the rage in Russia and the starch became so popular it became known as the ‘second bread’, it was a necessity to have in each Russian household. The potato lived up to its fame during the Second World War, when it became a vital source of nutrient for locals when wheat became scarce. It remains a staple ingredient in Russian cuisine being used in classics such as potato dumplings, potato pancakes, cold potato soup, and of course their infamous vodka, so of course no trip to Russia would be complete without a potato dish, so this month we’re getting a taste of this zesty grilled potato snack with a crunchy, smoky, and oniony taste to please any potato lover.
Grapefruit Chocolate Bar
Due to Russia’s especially chilly climates, citrus fruit such as lemons, limes, grapefruit, and oranges are hard to come by and so the Russians rely heavily on imports from warmer climate countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco. Even though Russia has an import into the country in order to get the beloved citrus fruit, it is still considered to be a special commodity and so when Russians are craving their citrus fix and they can’t get their hands on any, they turn to this chocolate bar. This smooth dark chocolate bar is filled with sweet grapefruit filling which delivers a tangy and fruity taste to satisfy any citrus craving.
Salmon and Cheese Husks
Salmon and Cheese Rye Breadsticks
If you’re a cheese lover, you would agree that most things taste better when they’re covered in cheese, but would you agree with that if we were talking about salmon? Yes, in Russia they love the unusual combo with it being found in dishes such as salmon pie with sharp cheddar cheese to salmon salad with gouda and cheesy baked salmon covered with mayo and mozzarella. Even if it doesn’t sound very appetizing upon first impressions, these crunchy breadsticks deliver a buttery flavor with the Swiss cheese and the smokey salmon flavor.
Korovka Baked Milk Biscuits
Baked Milk Cookies with Chocolate Glaze
Milk has long been a prized ingredient in Russian cuisine but as much as they loved their milk, they were also faced with the daunting task of keeping their milk cold and fresh so that it didn’t spoil before they had a chance to drink it. Since this was before the invention of fridges, the Russians came up with some pretty interesting methods to prevent their milk from going bad including submerging a special frog called the ‘Russian brown frog’ into buckets of milk to keep it from going sour. Another method involved simmering the milk in the oven for eight hours to kill off the bacteria which in turn made the milk last much longer. In the end the frog method was effective but the Russians had still developed a love for creamy, caramelized milk and so different treats including these chocolate glazed cookies were creating using baked milk as the main ingredient.
Caramel with Lemon Fondant and Jam
A popular treat in Russia, these caramel dreams are not like your traditional caramel as they aren’t annoyingly sticky and they don’t contain milk or cream, rather they are made with fondant. The fondant is made using a mixture of boiled sugar and water which is then whisked into a dense, sweet icing which can then be flavored like the fondant found in this candy, which is filled with a zesty lemon fondant and then topped with a tart apple jam for a truly unique sweet treat.
Forest Fairy Honey Peanut Delight
Chocolate Covered Honey and Peanut Candy
As one of the largest producers of the amber colored liquid, Russians have long had a love affair with honey and is one of the most treasured ingredients in the country. It was even discovered that Russians have been enjoying honey for over 1,500 years now when archaeologists discovered honey-collecting equipment and cave drawings depicting their love for honey. Today, honey is still a huge part of the daily life in Russia with the liquid even being used for medicinal purposes, as wound ointment or a remedy for a cold, and it is even believed that taking just a spoonful of the stuff is enough to lift your spirits in any situation. Lucky for us though, we have this delectable treat to do that for us, with its peanut and chocolate blend all coated in Russia’s famous honey, it would lift anyone’s spirits.
Juicy Light Peach and Apricot Jellies
Chocolate Covered Fruit Jelly Candy
When you think of marmalade, normally the first thing that comes to mind is that chunky, orange spread that people love to put on their toast in the morning but in Russia, marmalade has a completely different meaning. Russian marmalade is a traditional jelly candy made from various fruits that are pureed and then covered in sugar or chocolate. This candy is a super sweet and chewy treat but is loved dearly amongst the younger generation. The marmalade candy that we will getting a taste of this month, is made with not only fruit but two, both peach and apricot, and is covered in a thin layer of smooth, milk chocolate creating the perfect treat for anyone no matter their age.
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And in the meantime, while we wait for next month’s box of goodies to arrive, take a look at the countries that we’ve visited with Universal Yums so far.