For additional sweetness, you can add chocolate shavings or mini chocolate chips to your kugel, as in this Chocolate Cappuccino Noodle Kugel. Photo courtesy Cabot Creamery.
On The Menu
Grandma, who never heard of ricotta, used pot cheese or farmer’s cheese. Today’s cooks, who never heard of pot cheese, will use ricotta. If you don’t have ricotta handy, you can use cottage cheese. If you live in the metropolitan New York area, you have access to farmer cheese, which sounds less glamorous than ricotta but is delicious and authentic—and kugel is comfort food, not glamour food (get the salted variety).
There are many sweet kugel recipes: With raisins, apples and other fruits; with cottage cheese or a cream cheese-cottage cheese mix; with cinnamon or more exotic spices. Most can be made and baked within 90 minutes. This one is “marinated” overnight.
The history of kugel: Kugel originated in Eastern Europe. According to Wikipedia, the first kugels were made from bread and flour and were savory rather than sweet. Around 1200 C.E., German cooks replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel (noodle pellets), eventually adding eggs, then cottage cheese and milk to create the custard-like noodle pudding we know today.
Sugar became available in the 17th century, creating sweet kugels for side dishes and desserts. Polish-Jewish recipes included raisins, cinnamon and sweetened farmer’s cheese; Hungarians sprinkled their kugels with sugar and sour cream. In the late 19th century, in Jerusalem, caramelized sugar and black pepper were added to the “Jerusalem kugel.”
If the kugel is made in a ring mold, it is called a noodle ring (or kugel ring). December 11th is National Noodle Ring Day.
Kugel can be served an entrée, a side dish (popular with brisket) or a dessert. There are savory kugels (potato kugel with onions and eggs is another main recipe), as well as sweet ones like the recipe below. There are as many variations as there are fruits, vegetables and spices; the common denominator is broad, flat noodles. Most sweet kugels are served cold or at room temperature.
Kugel can be served hot or at room temperature. Leftover kugel can be re-heated or eaten cold.
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