In Israel, as soon as the weather starts getting chilly, Krembo pops up in stores (from October to February only), a fleeting treat migrating in and out with the seasons like a flock of birds.
Krembo (Hebrew for “cream in it”) hails from Denmark, though Israel is now the world’s leading manufacturer of it. Every winter, 50 million Krembos, an average of nine Krembos per Israeli, are consumed there. Krembo has even made appearances in Israeli songs and movies.
Like the American Mallomar, Krembo has a cookie bottom that is topped with marshmallow-y-mousse. The whole treat is then coated with chocolate and wrapped in colorful, crinkly foil. While Mallomar’s filling is gelatin-based, Krembo is filled with Italian meringue that is made by whipping egg whites with hot sugar syrup.
Krembo is the trademarked name for the treat made by the Strauss company, the market leader; nevertheless, other manufacturers have started making it as well, but it goes by different names, like Kefbo (“fun in it”), Manbo and more. The most popular flavor is the traditional vanilla filling, but there are others, too, such as mocha and strawberry.
Growing up I took such pleasure in the process of eating a Krembo. I would first twist the cookie bottom off the feathery marshmallow top, then proceed to slowly devour the sugary white cloud from the bottom up, while peeling the chocolate around. I would save the somewhat softened cookie bottom for last. That was my method. Some people like to eat Krembo from the top; others from the bottom, cookie first. And others crack the chocolate shell and eat the chocolatey shards around the cream first.
You are suspended in time for seconds, or minutes, in the ceremonial feasting of this chocolate-covered fluff.
When I saw that one of my favorite Israeli chefs in New York, Einat Admony, owner of Taïm, Balaboosta and Bar Bolonat restaurants, published a recipe for homemade Krembo, which she dubs “Cream-bo,” in her Balaboosta cookbook, I immediately reached out. Admony calls it “a classic Israeli childhood favorite” and writes, “As kids we’d get a box of twenty-four Krembos with a cookie base. We’d start eating away, and smearing these chocolate-covered marshmallow treats onto one another’s faces.”
In true balaboosta (a Yiddish term used to refer to the perfect housewife) form, she makes hers with a nice homemade graham cracker cookie base. Alternatively, she gives you the option to use store-bought cookies if you wish to skip a step.
You can find Krembo locally at Moti’s Market in Rockville, as well as Brookville Supermarket in Cleveland Park and Shoppers Food Warehouse, which carries them in vanilla and mocha flavors. Although they’re labor intensive, it’s no surprise, as Admony puts it, that “they taste even better when homemade.”