‘No, thanks’- said no Hungarian ever, when offered the dessert I brought to you today.
So what is this thing? It translates to quark dumpling. Yes, it is a dessert made of fresh cheese curd. Some people for some reason find cheese + sweet gross interesting, but excusez-moi… cheesecake? You like THAT, don’t you! Anyway, bear with me on this one.
We have quite an extensive dumpling culture in Hungary which means of course there is no universal recipe: everyone uses a very own ‘the real deal’ method. Basic ingredients include quark cheese, flour and eggs. You boil them in water and toss them in buttery, golden breadcrumbs.
I am a huge fan of it, but I admittedly don’t eat túrógombóc anywhere else but home. The reason? Others’ are simply never to my taste. Too hard, too floury, not sweet enough. I’ll share my go-to, and leave the decision up to you.
The recipe my family is sticking to was acquired a long-long time ago from an old lady living in my grandmother’s Balaton Highlands village and immediately made all the rest look like a bad joke. The only change my mother made was swapping some of the granulated sugar for vanilla sugar (had it not been a luxury then, I am sure the old lady would have used it too).
Never had a túrógombóc anything like this anywhere else and all the friends who try ours (being suspicious at first as they were) are very pleasantly surprised. And now I’ll let you in on the secret and you are absolutely welcome to pass it on! Prepare for a jiggly, dreamy-creamy, soft and sweet on the inside and crispy on the outside treat you won’t want to live without.
Update: You live and you learn! Turns out my beloved family túrógombóc is actually an Austrian topfennockerl. No wonder, as the old lady the recipe is from was Schwab (a german-speaking ethnic group of people).
Topfennockerl - Quark Dumplings
Light and sweet Austrian dessert made from quark cheese. Makes 10 dumplings.
For the dumplings:
250 g unsalted quark (fresh curd cheese)
15 g vanilla sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 medium egg
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/8 tsp salt
40 g AP flour
40 g semolina
For the breadcrumbs:
75 g breadcrumbs
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp granulated sugar
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine all ingredients for the dumplings.
- While ‘batter’ is resting, make the breadcrumbs: in a pan on medium-high heat brown breadcrumbs on butter. Turn heat off, add sugar. Set aside.
- In a medium pot, boil water with a pinch of salt.
- Using 2 tablespoons, form dumplings from batter and gently put in boiling water. Carefully stir so dumplings don’t stick to bottom.
- Dumplings are ready as soon as they emerge to the surface: using a slotted spoon, transfer them to pan and gently toss to cover in breadcrumbs. Serve warm. Enjoy!
Don’t use low-fat cottage cheese, it will make for ‘dry’ dumplings.
Some recipes call for pressing quark through a sieve and you can totally do that for a smoother result, but I prefer a rustic texture with visible cheese crumbs so I save myself the trouble.
Be careful not to add sugar to browned breadcrumbs too soon, you don’t want it caramelizing.
If you don’t feel comfortable shaping the dumplings with spoons, you can make them with wet hands.
Start with boiling a test-dumpling to see if batter holds. If it falls apart, the batter probably didn’t have enough time to rest or the egg was a bittoo big. Add more semolina (a tsp at a time).
Don’t put more than 4-5 dumplings in the water at a time.
We eat them plain, but feel free to pour sour cream on, sprinkle with cinnamon and/or powdered sugar, add jam, compote, poppy seeds or whatever floats your boat.