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How to Make Israel's Favorite Winter Dessert - Krembo

Krembo is a quintessential Israeli dessert that appears in stores around the country every winter. If you can’t get to Israel to try some, here’s how you can make it at home - with a chef’s twist.

Recipe: Chai-flavored krembo YouTube / Haaretz

In Israel, krembo means winter. For me, my fondest winter memories include hiding from the pouring rain in a little shack in India, warming up with a steaming cup of sweet chai. The smell of rain hung in the air, along with ginger- and cinnamon-scented steam. 

Since that experience, I knew that chai would appear on the dessert menu of the restaurant where I’m a chef. 

Here, I’ve made one of the most Israeli of desserts with a twist of the far east.

Ingredients:

For the ginger cookie base:

1/2 cup (100 grams) cold butter
3 1/2 cups (400 grams) flour
a scant 1/2 cup (80 grams) dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup honey
1-2 tablespoons water

krembo chai on the basis of gingerbread cookies at the Red restaurant in Jerusalem.
Efrat Lichtenstadt

For the chai meringue:

2/3 cup (150 grams) egg white (from approximately 5 large eggs)
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
1/3 cup (75 milliliters) water
1 Earl Gray teabag
1/2 an anise star
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch cardamom
pinch nutmeg
pinch cloves
For the white chocolate shell:
3/4 cup (200 grams) white chocolate
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) cocoa butter/oil
cinnamon for dusting

To prepare the cookies:

Mix the dry ingredients in a food processor. Add the egg and honey and continue blending until smooth. Add water as needed until the dough pulls together. 

Remove from the food processor and form into a large disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Heat an oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius). 
Take out the dough, and roll out on a floured surface. cut into circles as large as you want your krembo to be. 

krembo chai on the basis of gingerbread cookies at the Red restaurant in Jerusalem.
Efrat Lichtenstadt

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cookies are browned slightly around the edges. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and cool.

To prepare the cream: 

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a mixing attachment. 
On a stovetop, heat the sugar, water, tea and spices. When the syrup reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit (110 degrees Celsius), turn the mixer on to medium speed and start beating the egg whites. Let the syrup continue heating until it reaches 245 degrees Fahrenheit (118 degrees Celsius), and then remove from the flame. Turn the mixer up to high speed and drizzle the syrup into the egg whites. 

Mix for several minutes until the meringue is shiny and stiff, and the mixer bowl does not feel hot.

Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag and pipe onto the cookies. Transfer to the freezer to set for an hour.

To prepare the coating:

Melt the chocolate and the cocoa butter or oil over a hot water bath.

Transfer to a deep, narrow bowl that is large enough to fit the piped meringues. Dip the meringues into the coating, and twist until coated with a thin layer. Dust lightly with cinnamon and place in the refrigerator until the coating has set.

Moran Hendel is the pastry chef at Adom restaurant in Jerusalem.