Last summer we visited a small village on the shore of Lake Peipsi along the border between southeastern Estonia and Russia. The town, Varnja, is home to “The Russian Old Believers”. They split from the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-1600s and settled in this small area of Estonia. It was here that we tasted wonderful onion buns, rhubarb pastries and a candy treat made of carrots. The young lady who served it to us, said it was Russian. It was cloyingly sweet but deliciously carroty. I enjoyed it but couldn’t eat more than one piece.
Who knew, that experience would give me my inspiration for this weeks use of carrots?
In trying to replicate the general texture and appearance of that piece of carrot candy, this is what I came up with:
1-lb carrots peeled and finely shredded
1-lb granulated white sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon Ground ginger
2 cup chopped nuts of your choice
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium-high heat, mix shredded carrots, sugar, lemon juice, and ginger. Once sugar has completely melted, turn heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring very frequently. Continue until volume has reduced by at least half.
Remove from heat and cool only long enough to be able to roll mixture in plastic wrap without melting the wrap.
You'll be repeating the following process four times, so you need to work fast to keep the carrot mixture from cooling down too much.
Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on a flat cold surface. Spread ¼ of the carrot mixture evenly covering an area of about 8” x 10”. Sprinkle with the surface with ¼ of your chopped nuts. Starting with an 8” edge, lift the plastic wrap and carefully make a narrow fold to begin your roll. Using the plastic wrap, continue rolling the mixture. As you roll, peel back the plastic wrap so that it doesn’t get caught in the roll.
When the log is completed, moisten your fingers and press down the final edge to blend it into the roll. The wrap the completed log in plastic wrap and put in refrigerator to chill.
When you are ready to serve, remove a log from the fridge and slice in ¼” pieces. For smooth slicing, try using a sharp narrow boning knife. Heat the knife under hot running water, or pass it over a flame on your range.
I’m going to have to rate this as a GOOD. I don’t like the excessive sugar any more than I did when I tasted the originals in Varnja. But I love the strong carrot taste. If I were to make any changes at all, it would be to use fresh grated ginger and increase the amount by at least double, if not triple. Its flavor was totally overpowered by the carrot.