Gothenburg Goodies: The Punschrulle.

The fourth and final part of a Pud-Hog Sweet Series from Sweden

Punschrullar

Grub’s up

What? It’s always nice to end a series on a high, and I can honestly say that the Punschrulle was hands down the tastiest thing I ate in Gothenburg.

It was also the smallest: a thumb-length roll of green Marzipan, with both ends dipped in Dark Chocolate.

I have to admit, at first glance it didn’t entice me, looking rather more larval than lovely (don’t you think?).

As soon as my teeth sank into it, however, I was smitten.

It was the filling which sealed the deal.

Punschrulle

Munched-rulle

Fool that I was, I hadn’t even imagined there would be anything inside, but indeed there was – and it was DIVINE.

In the nicest suprise I’ve had all year, my teeth broke through to a secret stash of Chocolate, Cake Crumbs, finely chopped Nuts and what may well have been a snifter of Rum.

Clearly, this was no bog-standard Marzipan log: it was more like a luminous Truffle – and an awesome one at that,

It was rich; it was soft; it was pretty much velvet in edible form. And, though I tried to prolong the ecstasy of it, all too soon it was gone.

Which brings me to the Punschrulle’s one and only major drawback: it should be at least three times bigger

Where? This traditional treat can be found at various Swedish bakeries – mine was bought from the small chain of bakeries, Cederleüfs & Svenheimers

How Much? 20 kr a piece (about £2)

Rating?

9/10

Marzi-porn

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Gothenburg Goodies: The Salmiak Bar.

Part Three of a Pud-Hog Sweet Series from Sweden

Center Salmiac Bar

The Rolos that FORCE you to share

What? Salmiak – or Ammonium Chloride – is something you don’t often see in England (specialist shops aside). In Sweden, however, the flavour’s all over the place.

A type of salted Liquorice, it often crops up as a filling in various Chocolate Bars, and you might well assume that something so widespread would be reasonably tame. After all, if most people eat it, how weird can it be?

In a word: that s*** CRAY.

Take Center, a product made by Cloetta – a ‘leading confectionery company in the Nordic region’.

As Chocolate goes, you’d be hard-pressed to find something more intense.

Imagine a packet of Rolos on drugs: harmless soft Caramel fillings that have mutated into mouth-watering punches of salt, sweet and acid.

POW.

Ma Hog and I shared a packet between us – enraptured at first (‘It’s a taste SENSATION!’), then gradually overwhelmed by the strength of the flavour. By the time we were nearing the end, both of us found it a struggle to go on: we had found the Rolo’s antithesis.

You take the last one,’ I begged her.

‘No,’ she insisted. ‘You.’

I suppose we shouldn’t have been so surprised: we were eating Ammonium Chloride, for crying out loud; a chemical used in galvanising, found on coal dumps and volcanic vents.

I guess that explains why it felt like my taste buds were burning…

Where? You can buy Salmiak Chocolate in most supermarkets/newsagents in Sweden. Just don’t eat the whole pack alone

How Much? Our Center cost 13.9 kr (£1.40 at the time of writing)

Rating?

8/10 for bite one; 6/10 from thereon in

Mouth ulcer sufferers beware

Gothenburg Goodies: The Fransk Jitterbugg.

The long-awaited Second Part of a Pud-Hog Sweet Series from Sweden

Jitterbugg Biscuit

Think you know biscuits? Think again

What? You may well ask: Fransk Jitterbugg is hardly the commonest phrase in the Pud-Hog canon. Indeed, its weirdness is mainly what caught my attention in the first place.

Deciphering the name – which translates to ‘French Jitterbug’ – hardly solves the mystery. But what sounds like some kind of 1940s dance movement is in fact a Meringue/Butter Biscuit hybrid.

Crazy, no? But so intriguing – so apparently ingenious – I had to give it a go.

It certainly looked exciting: like it would be wonderfully chewy and moist, with a helping of crunch to boost; a feast for the teeth and the taste buds.

In fact, I soon learned it was neither.

The texture was samey and horribly dry; entirely lacking that much-needed crunch/chew contrast (and seemingly undercooked).

The taste was completely bland too; just butter and sugar with yet more sugar on top.

How dull.

Had a seam of fruit coulis been weaved in there somewhere, it may have been more of a biscuit befitting its wondrous, zany appearance.

As it was, I ate half then abandoned the rest, and ran for the nearest piece of Blueberry Pie.

Where? This disappointing specimen came from Café Kringlan, in the centre of Gothenburg’s Haga district (just down the road from those giant Hagabullen)

How Much? Around 30 kr (just under £3 in today’s money)

Rating?

2/10

More likely to give you the jitters than the bug

Gothenburg Goodies: The Hagabulle.

Part One of a Pud-Hog Sweet Series from Sweden…

Hagabullen

The Pudding that’s also a Frisbee

What? The Hagabulle is an enormous Haga-café-based Swedish-style Cinnamon Roll – a mouthful in more ways than one.

In the likely event that you don’t get the scale from the photo above, find a dinner plate, roll a tea towel into a spiral, and lay it on the top as if it’s Pastry. Even then it’ll be smaller than what I vainly attempted to eat with Ma Hog.

You can find these giant Kanelbullar (a.k.a. Cinnamon Rolls) in various parts of town – but the bad boys from Café Husaren are apparently among the best-loved.

In quantity terms, they certainly outrank anything you’ll find in Cinnabon.

In quality terms, however, I reckon there’s room for improvement.

Though the faint taste of Cardamom makes for a fragrant bite, the Hagabulle is disappointingly dry: it needs more Cinnamon goo to make the grade. Indeed, the paste was all too scanty – plainly no match for the acres of flaky bread it was holding together.

Replacing the hard sugar lumps with icing would also have done the trick – or warming it up and dunking the whole thing in coffee or tea.

As it was, with only a glass full of water to help me along, I found it a tough task indeed. As did Ma Hog.

Now, you don’t hear that very often…

Where? Café Husaren (in Gothenburg. Obvs)

How Much? 40kr (about £4 at the time of writing – pretty darn cheap for Sweden)

Rating?

6/10

Fab for photos; not so fab for feeding

Rated: Jalebi in London.

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Sweet (toothed) dreams are made of this

What? A glistening, vaguely intestinal-looking concoction, which just happens to be MY ALL-TIME FAVOURITE INDIAN SWEET (see Pud-Hog posts passim).

Made from a Flour and Cornstarch-based batter which is deep-fried and then dunked in tangy, sweet Syrup, it could well be the naughtiest snack to come out of the East (though is possibly still not a match for the unholy Deep-Fried Cheesecake).

Texturally, it’s a Pud-Hog’s dream, and best to be eaten straight out of the pan when its hot crunchy outsides give way to a warm mess of oozing and sugary innards – like a squiggly, thin-shelled cough sweet (without the bitter medicinal tinge).

As for the taste, these things pack some serious sweetness – just what you need to keep going in the midst of a scorching summer.

In India, of course, you’ll find Jalebi sellers all over the place, with a decent-sized bag of the good stuff sold for 10 or 20 pence.

Outside of India, however, fresh Jalebi can be pretty hard to come by (though given the rate I can chomp my way through them, it’s probably for the best).

The one you can see in the picture above was my first sighting in months, and was made on the premises of a Middle Eastern-style bakery in London. It certainly looked the part, and tasted almost as good as the ones I first fell in love with.

Almost, I say, but not quite.

Allowed to cool down on the shelf of the shop, they weren’t exactly the riot of heat and goo that I was hankering after. For that, I guess I’ll just have to go back to India.

What a shame: for this Pud-Hog, at least, West London’s so much easier to reach…

Where? My Jalebi was bought from Tavazo, Ealing Broadway – who even allowed me a sample before I committed.

How Much? £8.50 per kilo – or 90 pence for about 6 pieces

Rating?

7/10

It’s good, but it’s not quite right

Rated: Beijing Yoghurt.

Beijing Yoghurt

What? The clue’s in the name, really: it’s a Yoghurt, traditionally made and sold in Beijing.

I had my first taste along with some Chilli Barbecued Pineapple (which sadly lacked both heat and smokiness), and can report it’s rather like the French Set variety: firm, light, a little bit watery, with ever so slight hints of citrus.

Those of you seeking new flavour sensations most probably won’t find it here: though pleasantly fresh, it’s pretty much just a plain Yoghurt.

Where? You’ll find Beijing Yoghurt at A. Wong in Victoria (London), where it is made in house from a traditional recipe

How Much? £6 (including Pineapple)

Rating?

6/10

Fine, but not fab

Down at The Donut Shop, Natchez.

The Donut Shop

Crullers and Fritters and Rolls, oh my!

As an English Pud-Hog driving on American roads, it can sometimes be confusing to stay on the right-hand side.

For eight days, however, I’d been managing pretty well – until we spotted The Donut Shop.

Having heard about his long-established Natchez institution online, I almost performed an emergency stop right there and then. Instead I kept my cool long enough to turn the car around – and suddenly found myself on the wrong side of the road.

As cars zoomed towards us I could think of one thing and one thing only:

Must – try – DONUT.

And so I sped up.

It was reckless, Ogglers, I know, but I can’t say I regret it. I’m still here, after all (no one even had to swerve) – and the Donuts were well worth a near-death experience.

The range alone was staggering: rows and rows of what looked like every variety – most of which would have dwarfed your average puppy.

However, having recently digested lunch (in the skirts of Mammy’s Cupboard no less), the Man and I shied away from the bulkier items, settling on something smaller (but hardly small): a knobbly homemade Fritter.

Glazed Apple Cinnamon Donut

BEHOLD

It had Apple. It had Cinnamon. It was glazed.

And it was glorious.

So fresh it was still warm (and impressively non-greasy), the two of us ripped through it in record time – and found ourselves tempted to buy a few more.

After all, at a bargain 91 cents for one, we could have probably filled our cases with Donuts and still had plenty of money left over.

We didn’t though, Ogglers – somehow, infusing our luggage with sweet treats destined for staleness didn’t seem like the best idea at the time.

Then again, speeding along the wrong side of the road probably wasn’t my brightest plan either.

Hmm. I guess you never can tell…

Rated, Y’all: Chocolate Meringue Pie from Mammy’s Cupboard.

Chocolate Meringue Pie

The old two-fork trick: one for each hand…

What? The tallest slice of Pie I’ve ever had – with Meringue coiffed higher than Elvis’s quiff at its bounciest.

Homemade at Mammy’s Cupboard – a Natchez roadside restaurant housed inside a black woman’s skirt (!) – it’s also the first slice of Chocolate Meringue I think I’ve ever seen (though they do sell the Lemon variety there as well).

I have to say, it made for a great introduction, with a flaky, slightly salty Pastry base, a pleasingly gooey layer of Chocolate Blancmange, and a soft egg-white mountain which topped it like sweet, fluffy clouds.

Only the addition of real Chocolate – in chunks or some kind of Ganache – could have made it more desirable.

As it was, if I hadn’t already been stuffed with Grilled Cheese and Sweet Tea, I might well have gone for seconds…

Where? You’ll find Mammy’s Cupboard south of Natchez – just look for the huge red skirt

How Much? $3 per slice, without tax

Rating?

8/10

Sometimes mammy does know best

Rated, Y’all: The Pecan Cobbler.

Pecan Cobbler

Read it and weep

What? A truly dreamy dessert of Pecans, thick Syrup and crunchy Crumble, crowned with a scoop of Praline Ice Cream, which gradually turned to a lovely nutty puddle as I went.

I knew I was on to a winner before I even started eating (that smell, Ogglers! MON DIEU!).

As for the texture, I swear it had it all – plus more Pecans than a Pud-Hog could wish for (and you know how much I love Pecans…)

Rich, sweet, soft and creamy, it made me so happy I swear I actually cried.

Pathetic? Possibly.

Such is the power of pud…

Where? From the excellent Carriage House restaurant in Natchez, MS

How Much? $6 before taxes

Rating?

10/10

Oh, my sweet Cobbler: where have you been all my life?!

Rated, Y’all: The German Chocolate Cake.

German Chocolate Cake

Cocoa + Nut + Cake = Good.
Coconut + Cake? Not so much…

What? A three-tiered layer of Chocolate Sponge and Coconut-Praline frosting.

Apparently created by a Mr Sam German back in the 19th Century, this recipe has nothing to do with the land of sauerkraut and sausage – for which, I propose, the Germans should be very grateful.

In a buffet selection crammed with tasty Cakes and Pies, this proved to be the least delicious option – and all thanks to the abundance of that dreaded shredded Coconut.

Soapy, gritty, and present in every mouthful.

Too much, I say. Too much

Where? The dessert section of the Grand Casino’s evening buffet (in Biloxi, South MS)

How Much? The buffet was $19.99 per person (with a 2-4-1 deal on the Monday we made our visit)

Rating?

2/10

Moist – and yet most disappointing