Dumplings for Dessert?
Updated: Oct 24, 2022
Who doesn't love desserts? I love them ... provided they taste good enough to be 'worth the calories' 😂. Recently I shared with you the much-loved Hungarian Plum Dumplings. The base of those dessert dumplings is potatoes and flour, with the marquee star being the sweet plums. Now, let me share another favored Hungarian dessert dumpling, this one utilizing FARMER CHEESE and SEMOLINA, in Hungarian called Túrós Gombóc, or Farmer Cheese Dumplings. Farmer Cheese Dumplings are a very versatile and delicious Hungarian dessert option that is not overly sweet AND definitely 'worth the calories.' What's more, they can be served in a traditional style or with non-traditional adaptations incorporating seasonal fruit offerings.
In the photo above, I show the traditional dumpling coated in toasted breadcrumbs, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with a mixture of apricot jam and freshly whipped cream. Sometimes I serve them just simply with apricot jam or strawberry preserves. Some Hungarians like them drizzled with thinned, warm sour cream. Sometimes we don't even coat them in bread crumbs, but eat them "bald" or "naked", as shown below.
I have served these dumplings drizzled with warm fig jam alongside fresh figs when my figs were in season. Recently I served them with a pomegranate reduction sauce alongside pomegranate arils. While these are not typical accompaniments, the LIGHT and FLUFFY dumplings tasted delicious paired with the fresh seasonal fruits.
Farmer Cheese Dumpling recipe
Ingredients: (makes 12 dumplings)
50 dkg farmer cheese
zest of 1 lemon
1 pkg vanilla sugar
pinch of salt
2 whole eggs
7.5 dkg semolina
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup plain bread crumbs
Place the farmer cheese into a large bowl and break it down with an electric hand mixer. It is important to break it down into its tiny curds to increase its surface area, allowing it to better incorporate the semolina and prevent the dumpling from falling apart when cooking.
Once the cheese is broken down, add the zest of a whole lemon, a packet of vanilla sugar, and a pinch of salt. Add the whole eggs. Mix together with a wooden spoon. Add the semolina and mix, again, to incorporate. Then, cover with foil and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a frying pan and brown some plain breadcrumbs on low heat. Mix frequently so it doesn't burn.
After one hour of rest in the refrigerator, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat DOWN to a SIMMER. (Put a small separate bowl of tap water on the counter with which to wet hands intermittently while working with and shaping the dough, so it doesn't stick to your hands.)
Remove the dough from the fridge. Wet hands a bit and spoon segments of dough into your palm and shape them into small balls. Place them into the simmering water. They will initially sink to the bottom of the pot. COVER the pot with a lid and let them simmer on low for about 20 minutes. When done, they will rise to the top, swell in size and have a soft spongy feel. Fill a new 'reserve' bowl with clean HOT tap water. Transfer the done dumplings one at a time to the 'reserve' bowl. This process "cools them" slightly before serving.
Remove the dumplings from the 'reserve' bowl one at a time with a slotted spoon and let them DRAIN WELL. You now have a couple of preparation options. You can either prepare them in the more traditional Hungarian fashion rolled in the toasted breadcrumbs, OR you can leave them naked. Both are described below. In either case, dust them with some powdered sugar prior to serving.
Traditional Cheese Dumpling Preparation:
Place the well-drained dumplings into the toasted bread crumbs and roll them around to coat. Transfer to a serving dish or directly to plates. Can drizzle with thinned, warm sour cream and dust with powdered sugar. Or, can dust with powdered sugar and then serve with jam, a mixture of jam and whipped cream, or fruit.
"Naked" Cheese Dumpling Preparation:
Place the well-drained dumplings into a serving dish, without rolling them in the bread crumbs. Can prepare a mixture of jam (apricot or strawberry) mixed with whipped cream. Spoon some of this mixture onto a plate. Place a dumpling onto the jam-cream mixture. Sprinkle lightly with the toasted bread crumbs and dust with powdered sugar.
Few tips -
Dumplings taste BEST when served immediately for a light, fluffy texture.
If you don't use all your dough at once, you can cover the dough, place it back in the fridge, and make some FRESH dumplings the next day.
If you are making a double batch, then do not overcrowd the pot by placing too many dumplings into the boiling water at once. Limit it to 8-10.
It's important to use the RIGHT type of CHEESE!
So, what is Farmer Cheese?
Farmer cheese, sometimes called Baker's Cheese, is a pressed, dry, crumbly cheese. It is fresh, unaged cheese made by pressing most of the moisture, or whey, from cottage cheese. This results in compact tiny curds. Hence, it is not wet like cottage cheese, nor creamy like quark or cream cheese. Historically, farmer cheese was commonly produced on farms and a staple of central European cuisine, but today few commercial cheesemakers produce it. Therefore, while the above recipe is very straightforward, perhaps the most challenging part of it may be finding the right type of cheese. Interestingly, farmer cheese was brought to the USA by European Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants. Hence, grocers catering to European, International, or Jewish populations, may be a good place to look. The farmer cheese brand that I use and have had the most success with is 'Friendship.'
In summary, this is a simple and fabulous dessert option. I particularly love that the dumplings are not too sweet, have a light and fluffy texture, and can be served in many varied ways. If you can get your hands on some farmer cheese, then DEFINITELY give this tasty Hungarian dessert recipe a try!