As a toddler, I lived with my family on an army base in Stuttgart, Germany, before later settling in Illinois. Like so many families of my generation, my family was uprooted when my dad was drafted during the Vietnam War. As it turns out, my husband Charly’s family also lived in Germany—on a different base—during the war.
Today, what I remember most about my long-ago time in Germany near the Alps and of my childhood in Peoria isn’t so much the mountains and or the subtle beauty of the plains of north-central Illinois. What I remember are the treats that always appeared at our house during the holidays. Every year, family friends from Germany always made sure to send my family holiday care packages of torrone, the nougat-honey-and-almond candy, and white and milk chocolates, and more candies.
Those are the memories that sparked my idea for our Holiday in the Alps collection, which features the four brand-new limited edition ice creams: Torrone, Cloverton + Red Currant Sauce, White Chocolate Peppermint, and Pumpernickel. Each one, as well as the collection’s ice cream sandwich, Pfeffernüsse with Red Cherry Sauce, aren’t necessarily authentic versions of foods of the Alps region; they’re my ice cream interpretations of traditional desserts and holiday-time foods that anyone who’s traveled to or just read about the Alps region will come to love. Did I mention that they make great holiday gifts for everyone?
Torrone, of course, is the most literal tribute to the Alps. Cloverton + Red Currant Sauce touches on the rich cheeses used for fondue, but also the cherry red mountain berries. Pumpernickel, with its caraway flavor throughout rich sweet cream, will remind you of the ubiquitous Old Country bread. And White Chocolate Peppermint, with its buttery white chocolate, features tiny, crushed hard candy peppermint flecks that melt like snowflakes on the tongue, will send you to your holiday happy place.
When I tell people about these new flavors I’ve been referring to them as “memories of memories.” All of my memories are of magical places I see in the old slide photos of my brief time near the Alps: the biergarten with smiling, rosy-cheeked men in feathered hats, castles and fountains, the garden of our landlord where I would follow him around. In Illinois, holiday tradition every year called for looking at those slides.
We took many trips from our home base in Stuttgart, so we had bottomless boxes of photos. After the Christmas meal, we would all line up chairs in my grandparents’ basement and my grandfather would set up the projector and screen and we would flip through slides for hours. Charly tells me that it was the same with his family, who had boxes of slides and always spent the holidays around a projector and screen churning up memories of weekend trips off base.
Every year we would go through each and every slide as if it was the first time anyone had laid eyes on them: photos of frankfurters and mustard, beer, castles, roads on mountains, more castles, a man on a motorcycle with a white beard—things like that. The Swiss Alps was a favorite: snow, mountains, boots, castles, trains, cheese, crackling fires.
As the family took in all the photos, my younger sister and I dove into the care package that always arrived right around the time the slides were about to be projected on the wall. We would pretend that we were deliciously cultured as we sat eating Swiss chocolates and playing with little German toys and trinkets around our fire in Peoria.
When I was thinking about the flavors to make for the Holiday in the Alps collection, that’s where I was again, back in Peoria looking at all those warm memories on the slides shining on the wall. These memories and more are the origin of our Holiday in the Alps collection. Part travel poster, part Christmas card, these ice creams are an homage to the tradition in my family and to distant memories of a beautiful, flavorful place.
To more pleasures,