Götterspeise translates to 'food of the gods'. In Ancient Greece, this food of the gods was referred to as Ambrosia, or Nectar. There are different ideas about what exactly this substance was, with some scholars suggesting it might be honey or even hallucinogenic mushrooms. Today, different cultures have their own versions of food of the gods, however it is sadly not as compelling as magic mushrooms, or even honey.
In North America, Ambrosia salad is a strange mix of pineapple, canned mandarin oranges, mini marshmallows, coconut, and maraschino cherries, with some sort of creamy element that varies from Cool Whip to cottage cheese or yogurt. The German Götterspeise is basically traffic light jello—red, yellow, and green jelly layered in a bowl.
So bring on the classy Swiss with an elegant Götterspeise that some might actually consider eating. It's a layered dish of compote, custard, and biscuit (often Zwieback), similar to the British Trifle. The kind of compote can vary, with recipes commonly using berries, plums or rhubarb.
We recently received some fresh, super tart rhubarb from Sam's family in Schüpfheim, so that became the compote layer in this divine dessert.
You can make your own custard, below, but if you don't have time or aren't in the mood, store bought works too.
800 g rhubarb
80 g sugar
Clean and chop the rhubarb, then put it in a large pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the sugar over top.
Cook this on medium until the rhubarb breaks down completely. Take off the heat and taste for sweetness. If you prefer a sweeter compote, or have super tart rhubarb, add some more sugar, a teaspoon at a time.
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
500 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch.
In a medium pot, bring the milk and vanilla paste to a boil over high heat. Keep an eye on the pot as it can boil over quite quickly.
Once the milk has boiled, take it off the heat and while whisking continuously, pour a very small stream of milk into the egg mixture. You are tempering the egg mixture, but you don't want to add too much of the hot milk at once because the eggs might curdle. Continue slowly adding the milk and once you have mixed it all in, pour everything back into the pot. Keep whisking over medium low heat, and cook until the mixture is thick like pudding.
Take it off the heat and strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl. Wait until it stops steaming, then give it a good whisk and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the custard. Refrigerate a couple of hours.
Either in a large bowl or trifle dish, or individual dessert bowls or glasses, layer the different elements.
First cooled compote, then crushed Zwieback, and finally custard.
You can layer according to preference, making a bigger custard layer, or fruit layer as you see fit.
Garnish with a bit of crushed Zwieback.
This is a highly adaptable recipe. Basically, the idea is simply to layer the fruit, custard, and Zwieback (or other crushed biscuit).
If you don't have time to make custard, store bought works too.
Other compotes work too, though you will need to adjust the sugar and cooking time.
Zwieback is similar to Melba Toast (though slightly sweeter), so you could try this, a different crushed biscuit, or ladyfingers instead.
It's easier to cut the rhubarb if you hold it on its side.