Germany, a country known for it’s charming half-timbered houses, castles galore, and of course their beer, is the country we’ll be starting the new year off with, with Universal Yums. While the holiday season may be over and done with and you’ve finally put away all of those lingering Christmas decorations, the most festive time of year is just beginning in Germany. All across the country, people are getting prepared for the biggest celebration of the year known as ‘karneval.’ This special occasion starts the new year off on the right foot and involves parades, music, dancing, costumes, and of course, yummy food. While there isn’t a plane ticket to Germany to attend the karneval included in this month’s box, there are some of the special treats that are enjoyed during this celebration that will have us feeling like we’re right there celebrating along with the locals.
Lorenz Curly Peanut Puffs
Peanut Flavored Corn Puffs
While you have most certainly tried both peanut butter and corn puffs at least once in your life, this month we’re going to be trying the hybrid snack of these two things. As unusual a combination this snack may seem to be, the Germans adore this treat with many claiming that the two flavors together create a perfect blend. These snacks are so beloved that they are a common site at just about every social gathering from soccer matches, birthday parties, and holiday celebrations with the mild sweetness of the corn puff blending with the salted peanut butter flavoring, it’s no surprise why they are so irresistible.
Rating – 2/5
Shokomonk Poppy Seed Bar
White Chocolate Bar with Poppy Seeds
If poppy seeds sound familiar then it’s probably because you’ve seen them before, most likely on things such as bagels and lemon muffins but if you were to walk into a German bakery, you would find poppy seeds on virtually every dessert. From poppy seed rolls and iced poppy seed braids and poppy seed coffee cake, it’s safe to say that the Germans are slightly obsessed with these little black seeds. This obsession isn’t a random thing though as many locals believe that poppy seeds bring a balance to even the richest of desserts with their nutty bitterness and it creates a unique sweet and savory harmony. An example of poppy seeds working well in desserts, is this chocolate bar made by one of Germany’s master chocolatiers which involves mixing sweet, creamy white chocolate together with handfuls of poppy seeds.
Rating – 4/5
Wafers with Lemon Cream Filling
Everyone loves snacking, whether it be on chocolate bars or a bag of chips or even healthier options such as fruit, but no one loves their snacks as much as Germans do. In Germany, it’s as important to frequently eat snacks throughout the day as it is to have three meals. It is so important that there are numerous times throughout the day in Germany reserved for eating snacks such as a second breakfast consisting of meat and pastries at 10:30 am followed by a midday snack for the adults before they enjoy a beer and then an occasional sit down for coffee and sweets which typically lasts about two hours. These light wafer cookies with a zesty lemon filling are perfect to snack on anytime of the day, whether it be the morning, afternoon, or night time.
Rating – 3/5
Onion Flavored Corn Rings
Onions, you either love them or you hate them but in Germany they celebrate the vegetable. Every October, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the city of Weimar to attend the famous onion market where people spend three days shopping around at all of the stalls and indulging in onion heavy dishes such as cheesy onion soup, liver with raw onions, and onion-bacon pie. This festival even goes so far as to have an exhibit to browse through while munching on your food that features German folk art made with onions. These flavorful onion rings will help us join in on the festivities while giving us a taste of this famous German market.
Rating – 5/5
Hazelnut Sun Rice
Milk Chocolate with Puffed Rice, Cereal, Hazelnuts, and Cocoa Cream
Back in the day when we were all still in elementary school, it was always a good day when you would open up your lunchbox at lunch time and see that your favorite snacks were in there whether that was a mini bag of Doritos or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In Germany, a popular snack given to children in their school bags is the Sun Rice. These crunchy cereal squares are some of the most popular snacks amongst children across the country and are packed with puffed rice, crispy corn cereal, milky cocoa cream, and roasted hazelnuts.
Rating – 4/5
Konditor Marzipan Stollen
Fruit Cake with Raisins and Marzipan
While most people, myself included, scrunch their face up in disgust at the though of fruit cake, in Germany they have come up with a way to perfect the fruit cake recipe to the point where people will be asking for seconds. This famous cake, known as stollen, has stolen the hearts of Germans and is so loved that there is even an entire winter festival dedicated to the pastry. Turns out the secret to making this fruit cake is actually quite simple and simply requires rolling long logs of marzipan, a chewy almond paste, into the fruit filled dough before baking it. This helps to create a buttery treat with a dense nutty center that never goes dry, which is a common complaint with regular fruit cake.
Rating – 1/5
Schinken and Kase Knuffels
Ham and Cheese Corn Snack
In Germany, there is no such thing as too much ham and cheese with the flavor combo being found in virtually every meal of the day with a typical breakfast including eggs with ham slices and cheese, a cheese and ham sandwich for second breakfast, and then these ham and cheese corn puffs as a snack in between all of that. Evidently, ham and cheese tends to be the preferred choice of snack flavor between Germans and that savory taste of ham and smooth cheese can be tasted packed into each of these corn puffs, giving for an authentic German treat.
Rating – 2/5
Himbeer Creme Schokolade
Dark Chocolate with Raspberry Cream
If you’re a chocolate lover like most people, then be glad to know that you didn’t need to live through the 18th century in Germany. The reason for this is that during the 1700’s, when chocolate first arrived to the country, it was considered to be a luxury good and was reserved for the wealthy. Back then, the chocolate had to be made by hand which was a slow and tedious process that required an extremely skilled craftsman. Fast forward to the 21st century and now manufacturing chocolate has become much easier therefore making the treat much more accessible to the public. Chocolate is now considered Germany’s top export and is known for it’s quality and flavor which we’ll be able to see in this German dark chocolate bar filled with a creamy raspberry filling.
Rating – 3/5
Chocolate Coated Roasted Almonds with Spices
If there’s anything that Germany is famous for, it’s their Christmas markets. These festive markets attract thousands of tourists each year who flock to Germany to experience the festive live music, the sparkling nativity scenes, the taste of the warm mulled wine, and of course for the smell of these ‘gewurz mandeln’ wafting through the air. These warm candied almonds are the highlight of every German Christmas market and are normally sold in colorful paper cones in a bunch of different varieties. The most festive variation of this treat that there is is this one, where the roasted almond in the middle is coated in a thick layer of melty cinnamon cocoa.
Rating – 2/5
Hedgehog Slice Bar
Milk Chocolate with Cookie Pieces
While you won’t actually find any hedgehogs in this chocolate bar, what you will find is a creamy, milk chocolate filled with crumbly cookie pieces. This beloved chocolate treat is often referred to as a ‘cellar cake’ and is a no-bake dessert created by alternating stacks of biscuits and chocolate in a cake pan and then stored in a fridge or cellar until hardened. The result is a cake/cookie hybrid that is enjoyed at parties across Germany, mainly by children.
Rating – 5/5
Mr.Blubber Lucky “Gluck” Coins
Cola, Lemon, Raspberry, Cherry, or Orange Flavored Sherbet Candy
Since the 1700’s, it’s been a common thing for Germans to always keep a shiny copper penny, known as ‘pfennig’, which was believed the drive away dark magic. They would carry these coins in their pockets to protect them from lies and trickery, and would even go so far as to nail these coins to their doors to keep the witches and sorcerers at bay. Nowadays these coins are less popular than they once were but are still exchanged throughout the month of January, to bring good luck and everlasting wealth in the new year. With these lucky coins however, we’ll be eating them and with flavors such as raspberry and cola, it’s a much tastier way to do things.
Rating – 3/5
Bohme Sour Fruit Toffees
Apple, Passion Fruit, Grapefruit, or Currant Flavored Chewy Candy
As previously mentioned, karneval, often referred to as the ‘German mardi gras’ is in full swing from January to the beginning of March in Germany and is a great way for locals to live it up before the fasting period of Lent begins. This elaborate festival sees thousands of locals gathering around to witness the stage shows, masquerade balls, and colorful parades. The candies in this month’s box are the famous candies that are thrown from the floats in the parade into the crowds of eager children below but for locals, old and young, the chewy tangy flavoring of these candies evoke that special feeling of karneval excitement.
Rating – 3/5
Another month of Universal Yums taste testing in the bag and on to the next, where we will be trying snacks from another brand new country.
In the meantime, be sure to catch up on any previous Universal Yums boxes I’ve done in the past, and I’ll see you all here next month.