A delicious, indulgent, smooth and rich dessert.
by Ena Scheerstra
Vla is another one of those typical Dutch products. It is a dessert made with milk, cornstarch (or other thickeners), eggs (not always used nowadays), sugar and flavourings, that is served cold or at room temperature. It has the consistency and viscosity of yoghurt and is sold in square cartons. There are many different flavours available: vanilla, chocolate, caramel, raspberry, etc. There is even the flavour ‘blank’, which has a neutral colour and taste. Often producers experiment with unusual flavours and variations. Some vla flavours are only available certain times of the year, for example orange with Queen’s day and big football matches, or winter vla with spices and stewed pears. A more luxurious vla is made with cream and is usually only available in the two classic flavours vanilla and chocolate. Vanilla and chocolate vla are also available together in one carton: if you don’t shake the carton too much they will stay separate when you pour them out, so one half of your bowl is filled with vanilla vla and the other with chocolate vla; this is called dubbelvla (double vla) and is sometimes available in other flavours too. There are also vla flavours with add-ins, for example vanilla with bits or balls of chocolate. Vanilla vla is often served together with plain yoghurt and fruit syrup (something red like strawberry, raspberry or grenadine) to make a vlaflip, while chocolate vla is often served with a dollop of whipped cream. Vla is considered quite a simple and everyday dessert, some people really eat it every day after dinner, others only at the weekends or not at all, but it is not considered to be a special dessert to serve with special occasions.
The vla you buy in the shop usually doesn’t contain any eggs and uses thickeners instead of the traditional corn starch to get the right viscosity, but I prefer the mouth feel and taste of a vla made with egg yolks, corn starch and no artificial flavourings, so I usually make my own. Luckily, this is very easy!
Ena Scheerstra has a lifelong love for food and cooking, starting to collect cookbooks at age 10. She spends most of her free time on cooking and everything food related. She is a strong believer of honest food, produced sustainable and sourced locally, and cultures her own vegetables on her balcony and in her small allotment. Her blog is very internationally orientated, reflecting the variety of food she cooks, but on Honest Cooking she is focusing on showing the world the wonders of Dutch food.