Ukraine, a country I never thought I would be trying snacks from, yet here we are. For the month of March, we’ll be heading off on a journey through Ukraine with Universal Yums where we’ll be taste testing things such as cheese and chocolate wafers as well as meat jelly flavored chips and fruit filled caramels. A bit of a backstory on this country before we hop into the snacks, the Ukraine has been ruled by many different nations throughout it’s existence as a country. First it was Poland who had control of this country followed by Austria-Hungary and then fell under the control of the USSR in 1912. Seventy years passed while Ukraine was powered by the Soviet Union until the USSR collapsed in 1991 and Ukraine finally gained its independence. While this resilient country has changed hands quite a few times throughout history, one thing that has remained is their way of life, with traditional celebrations and their one of a kind cuisine still remaining huge focal points about the country today.
Potato and Onion Potato Boom
Potato and Onion Flavored Crisps
Hot, greasy, and the perfect companion to a juicy burger, french fries are an essential snack in America and Canada but they’re also loved all the way in the Ukraine too. Consisting of sliced potatoes fried in oil, ‘pan-fried potatoes’ are a popular dish in the country and are very similar to the French fries most people are familiar with. There are however two major differences between the two dishes, one being that these potatoes are fried on the stove rather than fried in oil and they also have onions in them. This gives the potatoes a rich, caramelized flavor which makes the dish such a hit among the locals and is the flavor that is encompassed into these potato sticks making them the perfect snack version of the ‘pan-fried potatoes.’
Rating – 4/5
Roshen Creme Brulee Chocolate
Milk Chocolate with Creme Brulee Filling
Fun fact about Ukraine, their current president is not only the ruler of the country but he’s also the owner of one of the largest candy companies. Known as Roshen, the company was started in 1966 and quickly became an empire with $1.5 billion in sales per year making it the 24th largest candy company in the world. Though the company has a wide range of sweet treats to offer, the one that we’ll be tasting is the creme brulee bar, inspired by the famous French dessert, with a sticky caramel filling covered in milk chocolate.
Rating – 2/5
Dill and Sour Cream Golden Chips
Potato Crisps with Dill and Sour Cream
Beloved for their crispy texture and their authentic flavors, these chips are quite a big deal in the Ukraine. Unlike regular potato chips, these Golden Chips are made using mashed potatoes which are dried and then cut to create a paper-thin sheet. They are then seasoned and ready to enjoy, which the Ukrainians have done for the past 15 years now. One of two flavor options that were included in the box this month, include this sour cream and dill version, a flavor combination that can be found in Ukraine’s most popular dishes.
Rating – 4/5
Slasti Curd Waffles
Wafers with Chocolate and Cheese
Eaten plain or incorporated into many traditional dishes such as curd pancakes and and curd crepes, curd cheese is the Ukraine’s most popular cheese and is the main ingredient in these wafers. Though this delicacy is widely popular throughout the country, it is quite the hassle to make with the process taking close to 60 hours to complete including two periods of 24 hours where the mixture must sit in a warm room. This tedious process results in a soft and delicate cheese that closely resembles a mixture between cottage cheese and feta. The taste is also quite different with a mild, nutty taste that pairs well with both savory and sweet dishes, such as these wafers filled with cheese curd and rich chocolate.
Rating – 1/5
Veal and Adjika Potato Boom
Roast Veal and Adjika Flavored Crisps
Almost every country has a favorite condiment that is found virtually everywhere such as pesto with Italy, ketchup for the United States, and salsa for Mexico and Ukraine is no different, with adjika being the popular choice. This slightly spicy sauce is made using tomatoes, garlic, carrots, and chili peppers and is used to accompany pretty much everything and anything. Adjika can be found poured into soup, drizzled onto grilled veggies, mixed into scrambled eggs, and most commonly paired with different types of meat which is where the flavor combo for these potato sticks comes from. Making up the pungent and distinctive flavor of this snack is a mixture of veal flavoring as well as the spices found in the adjika, including paprika, chili, garlic, and bay leaves.
Rating – 3/5
Shoud’e Cinnamon Caramel Chocolate
Milk Chocolate with Cinnamon Caramel Filling
Another popular treat that can be found in Ukraine is this Shoud’e chocolate bar. Though most of the country will not be indulging in this treat anytime soon as over 75% of the country are currently observing Lent where things such as eggs and sugar are strictly off limits, this chocolate bar is still a top pick among Ukrainians. This creamy chocolate bar is made using a rich, dark chocolate which is paired with a sweet cinnamon flavor.
Rating – 2/5
Creamy Deluxe Toffee Squares
Soft Milk Toffee
Throughout history, cooking in Ukraine has been largely based on what was grown on the farm, such as eggs, milk, and wheat. With an overload of these natural foods, recipes were created in order to make the most of these ingredients even during the winter months. Milky candies such as toffee and caramels were popular to make as they use a lot of milk, an ingredient that would otherwise spoil within a few days, but could last for months at a time when made into the sweet confection. These candies, like this soft toffee, were made by baking raw milk with sugar in order to create the creamy and gooey texture that makes them so beloved.
Rating – 3/5
Salute Ham and Mustard Puffs
Ham and Mustard Flavored Corn Puffs
If ‘ham and mustard’ makes you think of a bagged school lunch, then you’re clearly not from Ukraine, where the one and only thing that comes to mind is Easter. Many locals would agree that Easter would be incomplete without a delicious Easter ham, the centerpiece of any Ukrainian dinner table. Before the honey-baked ham can even be eaten though, it is packed into an Easter basket along with cheese, colored eggs, sweet bread, and rye bread, where it is then brought to the church on Easter Sunday in order to be blessed. When Sunday Mass is over for the day, the contents of the basket are then laid out on the dinner table to commence the feast. Though these ham and mustard puffs don’t require you to carry them around in an Easter basket before enjoying them, they will leave you feeling like you’re enjoying Easter Sunday the traditional Ukrainian way.
Rating – 3/5
Peanut Bar with Puffed Rice and Honey
While this snack can be found in the Ukraine box, we should actually be thanking the ancient country of Georgia for inventing it in the first place. This peanut bar made with caramelized peanuts and puffed rice, is actually a variation of ‘gozinaki’, a classic confection that is typically only eaten on New Year’s Eve in Georgia. Since the creation of this treat, neighboring countries such as Ukraine, have started making their own variations of ‘gozinaki’ and it is also eaten all year round in other countries as well. Though the Ukraine can’t take credit for having invented this treat, they can take credit for one of the key ingredients found in the bar, honey. With over 1.5% of the entire Ukrainian population being beekeepers, it is no surprise to know that the country produces the greatest amount of honey per capita in the world.
Rating – 4/5
Shoud’e Dark Chocolate with Candied Fruits
Dark Chocolate with Dried Oranges, Lemons, and Raspberries
Launched in 2007, the company behind this chocolate bar, Sladkiy Mir, always strived to create the best chocolate bar in Europe. With steep competition such as Germany and Italy, the task wouldn’t be an easy one but an advantage that this Ukrainian company has over the others, is that every single chocolate bar is made by hand. Using a 70% cocoa blend, the chocolatier then mixes in dried oranges, raspberries, and lemons to create the perfect blend of tartness and sweetness.
Rating – 3/5
Golden Chips Aspic and Horseradish
Aspic and Horseradish Potato Crisps
Not only popular in Ukraine but also largely used in dishes found throughout Poland, Russia, Estonia, Nepal, and Thailand, aspic is a star ingredient and can be found in these potato crisps. If you’re wondering what aspic even is, its a cold meat jelly. This gelatinous wonder has been popular for centuries and was once even widely consumed in the United States back in the 1950’s and was the inspiration for Jello. While these chips are wobbly and jelly like traditional aspic would be, the flavoring of this dish is packed into these crisps along with horseradish to create a savory, meaty, and spicy flavor.
Rating – 3/5
Assorted Fruit Caramels with Fruit Fillings
Having only been introduced to the country in 2016, these candies have quickly gained popularity among the locals. Known for being one of the Ukraine’s most popular candies, Minky Binky are creamy, milky caramels with a unique twist. In the center of each caramel, you will find real fruit juices bursting with flavors such as strawberry and orange for a tropical and refreshing take on your traditional caramel.
Rating – 5/5
Assorted Fruit Gummies with Juice Fillings
Enjoyed across Ukraine during special occasions such as birthdays, these ladybug candies are not only tasty with it’s chewy texture and sweet and tangy flavors such as pear, raspberry, grapefruit, and apple, but they are also a symbol of good luck throughout the country. The ladybug came to be known for being lucky around the time when Europe was invaded by aphids, tiny insects that kill plants, which then caused incredible destruction to fields of crops. The farmers were panicking and so turned to prayer to help them fix this problem. Not long after, strange red bugs started appearing and eating up the pesky aphids which in turn helped to save the crops. Ever since then, these tiny red bugs have been considered a sign of good luck and success throughout Europe.
Rating – 3/5
Barberry Flavored Hard Candy
You’ve heard of blueberry and blackberry and even raspberry but get ready for a whole new berry, one that Ukrainians adore known as barberry. Loved for it’s floral sweetness and delightful tang, barberries are a unique fruit that have long been cherished by Ukraine for many different reasons. One of these reasons being is that the leaves of the barberry plant remain a deep crimson color throughout the year which helps bring a pop of color to the landscape during Ukraine’s harsh and brutal winters. It is also largely used in creating natural remedies and for use in traditional Ukrainian cuisine with it’s fresh and sharp flavor. The fruit can be found bringing perfect balance to dishes such as jams, sauces, meat marinades, and inside of these sweet candies.
Rating – 3/5
Another month of Universal Yums in the bag and onto the next, where we’ll be trying snacks and candies from another brand new country.
In the meantime, be sure to catch up on any previous posts you may have missed and don’t forget to check out the link below to save $5 on your first month of Universal Yums.