Rote Gruetze is a typical, fruit dessert from northern Germany, Denmark, and other Scandinavian countries. In eastern Europe, a similar pudding is called kissel and is made with pureed fruit.
The original recipe for Rote Gruetze calls for red currants (Johannisbeeren) and raspberries, but modern versions contain just about any, in-season, red fruit except strawberries, which do not have the desired acidity or bite. Sago or semolina (Griess) was used for thickening, which made the pudding a little gritty, hence "Gruetze" or grits. This recipe calls for cornstarch (or potato starch) to thicken which results in a smoother compote.
Serve with milk, cream or whipped cream, or as in this recipe, with a vanilla sauce. Some people like to crumble Zwieback over the pudding, too, before they eat it.
Serves 6 with a serving size of 3/4 cup pudding and 3 tablespoons sauce.
Make the Fruit Pudding
- Mix the sugar with the grape juice, Kirschwasser, and red wine. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Mix the cornstarch with an equal amount of cold water. Add slowly to the hot liquids and stir constantly. Bring the mixture back to a boil and keep stirring until liquid starts to thicken and become clear and glossy.
- Stir in the fruit. You can use any mixture of cherries, red currants, raspberries, and blackberries. Heat through for a minute or two, then pour into a bowl and refrigerate.
Make the Vanilla Sauce
- Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Slowly warm the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla (both the bean and the seeds).
- When the sugar is dissolved and the milk is almost boiling, remove the pan from the heat source and stir in the egg yolks. Place the pan back on a very low burner and heat until the sauce has thickened, but do not boil.
- Strain through a colander if necessary to remove lumps or egg which did not mix well. Cool.
Serving the Pudding
- To serve, place the Rote Grütze in dessert cups or ice cream dishes, pour a little vanilla sauce over it and garnish with lemon balm or mint leaf sprigs.
Notes: This is not a very sweet dessert. If you have a sweet tooth, feel free to add more sugar to taste.
If the egg yolk custard is a bit complicated for vanilla sauce, you can use a package of vanilla pudding made with twice as much milk, or make a cornstarch-thickened vanilla pudding from scratch, but with about half the cornstarch.