Rode Bessensaus

In a traditional Dutch household, as soon as dinner is over, the plates are cleared (although some families will also use their dinner plate for dessert, so as to save washing more dishes!) and the various cartons of vla, yogurt, pudding or pap make their way to the table. Very often, a variety of choices are available as each family member tends to favor one flavor of another: I for one loved hopjesvla, but could also appreciate a creamy vanillevla or chocoladevla!

Together with the dairy cartons, a smaller glass bottle will make its appearance. It contains a thick, red liquid. Now watch the people at the table. As the bottle is passed from one person to the other and makes its way around the table, those that have not yet been able to pour some of its contents on their dessert, guard it closely to make sure nobody takes more than their share, and that there is something left for them! And no wonder, because this small bottle holds Tova, a puddingsaus, also known as "toversaus", magic sauce, because of its name and its possibilities to change your dessert into something even better!

Image result for tova dessertsaus
Source: Albert Heijn
Nowadays, Tova puddingsaus is called dessertsaus, and is meant specifically for that: ice cream, vla, pap, yogurt and even pancakes. Tova has been around for almost a hundred years and is still popular today. It used to be produced by the De Betuwe fruit company from Tiel, where Flipje the mascot came from. Nowadays, Tova is produced by the international Hero company.

The sauces used to come in many flavors: strawberry, cherry, chocolate, banana.....but the most favorite sauce tended to be the red berry sauce, rode bessensaus. It was sweet and slightly acidic at the same time, perfect for cutting through sweet dairy desserts, and often specifically served with farina pudding, griesmeelpudding or buttermilk pudding, karnemelkpudding. Nowadays, Hero limits its production to strawberry, raspberry, caramel and chocolate.

Bessensaus is traditionally made from aalbessen, fresh red currants (ribes rubrum), but can also be prepared with a mixture of red currants, strawberries or raspberries, if currants are hard to come by.

4 cups freshly picked currants (about 450 grams)
1/4 cup water (60 ml)
1/4 cup sugar ( 85 grams)
1 vanilla bean (optional

Pick the stems from the currants, wash the berries and add them to a thick bottomed pan with the 1/4 cup of water, sugar and the vanilla bean. After ten minutes, remove the vanilla bean, split it down the middle and scrape the seeds out. Return the seeds to the pan, as well as the remainder of the vanilla bean. Simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes, until the berries have softened and released their juice.

Remove the vanilla bean. Pour the berries and the liquid into a sieve and use a spatula or wooden spoon to squash the berries through the sieve into a bowl. The seeds and skins remain in the sieve, and you should have a thick berry sauce in the bowl. If the sauce is too watery, return it to the pan and reduce it, or thicken it with a little bit of cornstarch. If you dip a spoon into the sauce and are able to draw a line on the back of the spoon with your finger, it is thick enough.

Taste the sauce and decide if you want it sweeter. If so, add a bit more sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. You can now freeze* the sauce, or keep it in the fridge, but no longer than ten days. With any sign of spoilage such as mold, discoloration or bubbly foam, discard the sauce immediately.

Makes approximately 2 cups (500 ml) of sauce, depending on reduction.

* I split the sauce between several small freezer jam jars and keep the sauce in the freezer. I only pull a small jar at a time and let it thaw in the fridge before using it for dessert. This will help keep your product fresh.


  1. I love red currants and have 4 bushes I harvest from. This looks delicious! Can't wait to make a batch and try it

  2. I LOVE them too, but live in So. California and cannot grow them here .(I tried) and I never ever see them in the stores here! I also want to say I have enjoyed your recipes for a long time. Thank you for all your hard work. Heel hartelijk bedankt !

  3. I'd like your help. I'm from Groningen and one of my favorite dishes is Hutspot. My parents didn't make it with klapstuck. They used a boiled slab of pork and used the liquid to cook the carrots, onions, and potatoes. Do you know of this? Can you help?7


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