Krembo קרמבו The National Dessert of Winter in Israel

In Israel, summers are long and intense while winters are rainy and chilly, but brief. In the long summer, heat waves and beach days mean natives and tourists alike are on the lookout for any way to cool down. Summertime means watermelon and ice cream, beach picnics and paddle ball. Summer is limonana לימונענע and iced coffee. But what happens in the rainy, chilly months of winter in Israel? How does one keep the memory of ice cream and popsicles alive through the rainy season, the clouds, and the strong winds? The answer is Krembo קרמבו.

Krembo קרמבו is a light and airy confection that brings a hint of summer to the winter months when it’s too cold out for ice cream גלידה and popsicles ארטיקים. The name means cream inside, krem קרם  – cream bo בו in it.  Its base is a round, shortbread type tea cookie. Atop the cookie base is a soft, airy meringue topping made of eggs and sugar which is piled up high like a giant snow dome. The dessert is then fully coated in a thin layer of chocolate.

If you’re not lucky enough to have a market near you that sells Krembo (they’re usually only available between November and April), try this recipe at home:

Cookie ingredients

3 cups of flour
½ cup of sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ sticks of butter (12 tbsp) softened
3 eggs

4 egg whites
1 c. sugar
½ tsp. lemon juice
1/3 c. water
pinch of cream of tartar

Chocolate ganache
12 oz. semisweet chocolate

1. Mix dry ingredients.
2. Mix in butter until blended
3. Add the eggs and mix
4. Make the dough and refrigerate for at least an hour
5.  Roll out dough on a floured surface and make 1-inch cookie rounds
6. Bake at 375 degrees F on a greased cookie sheet for 10 minutes (or until golden brown)

Marshmallow filling
1. Heat water, lemon juice and sugar over low heat until it is syrupy
2. Whisk together egg whites until foamy; add cream of tartar and keep whisking
3. Drizzle sugary syrup into egg whites while mixing with electric mixer on medium speed
4. Let cool

1. Melt chocolate in a sauce pan.
Cookie prep:
1.  Dollop a large spoonful of filling onto the cookies
2.  Drizzle the chocolate ganache over cookies on a rack with parchment paper underneath
3.  Let stand for an hour or two to harden

Eating a Krembo is an art within itself.  Here are a few common methods:

-Holding the Krembo קרמבו by its cookie base and eating first the chocolate covered meringue and finishing up with the cookie.
– Pulling the cookie base off and eating it first before consuming the fluffy topping.
-Peeling off the chocolaty coating and eating it first then the meringue topping, and finally the cookie base.
-Smashing the Krembo קרמבו gently with the palm of your hand and eating the both the cookie and topping together.

And for true devotees, here are some Krembo קרמבו facts:

– In Israel during the winter months Krembo קרמבו is sold, the country consumes an average of 9 cookies per person!
– The original Krembo קרמבו originated in Denmark about 200 years ago. It came to Israel in the 1960s as an alternative production in ice cream manufacturing during the winter months when it was too cold to make ice cream.
– The cookie is so fragile that each individual Krembo קרמבו is wrapped by hand!


Photo from Wikimedia Commons