Netherlands

Dish

This popular dairy product made from fresh milk first appeared in the 1950s. Traditional vla is made of cooked milk with custard, but modern vla uses cornstarch rather than eggs. It is sweetened with sugar and vanilla is often added. It has the viscosity of yogurt and is served cold. Vla is available in many different flavours. Plain vanilla vla is the most widely available and served with fruit, however it comes in many flavours, such as chocolate, caramel, vanilla, banana, etc. and some are limited editions like orange sold only at the time of national events in the Netherlands such the world and European football championships (as long as the Netherlands is still in the competition). Dairy producers will also regularly experiment with unusual variations. Vla found in all Dutch supermarkets and was originally sold in glass bottles ,the consistency made extracting the complete amount difficult, so a special bottle scraper ("flessenschraper" or "flessenlikker") was specifically designed. Despite the fact that vla is now normally sold in cartons, these scrapers are still common in Dutch family kitchens

Ingredients

  • 1 litre (slightly more than 1 quart) of whole milk
  • 1/4 litre (1 cup) of heavy cream (or less, down to 50ml or 1/4 cup)
  • 70 grams (1/3 cup) of sugar
  • 2 additional tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 40 grams (slightly less than 1/3 cup) of cornstarch
  • a half or whole vanilla pod
  • optional: yellow food colouring
Vla

Method

  1. Add a few tablespoons of milk to the cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch dissolves and the liquid is uniform.
  2. Heat up the remaining milk in a large pan with a cut open vanilla pod in it.
  3. In the meantime, use a (hand)mixer to beat the 70g of sugar with the eggs until foamy—this takes a few minutes.
  4. Keep an eye on the milk. When the milk starts to boil, lower the heat and dump in the cornstarch fluid and stir until somewhat gelatinous—this should take a minute or two, but don't worry if it doesn't get gelatinous. Keep it on a very, very gentle boil.
  5. Slowly pour in the foamy egg/sugar mix into the gently boiling milk; keep it like that while gently stirring and beating the mix until the vla is uniform and somewhat gelatinous.
  6. To cool it, pour the vla into a bowl and lower the bowl into a larger bowl filled with cold water. Stir the vla every few minutes and replace the lukewarm water with cold water. Store in fridge.
  7. Before serving, beat the desired amount of heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff and stir into the vla—use less cream to keep the vla lighter.
  8. A couple of drops of yellow food colouring gives that authentic vanilla vla colour.