‘No, thanks’- said no Hungarian ever, when offered the dessert I brought to you today. On the other hand, not one of my foreign friends who even bothered to try it (in restaurants, that is) was convinced. This is shaping up to be a controversial post and to make matters worse, what follows will definitely raise some eyebrows among my fellow countrymen and women as well. I warned you!
So what is this unpronounceable thing then? Well, it translates to cottage cheese dumpling. Yes, it is a dessert made of fresh cheese curd, and yes, it’s sweet. Some people for some reason find that gross interesting, but excusez-moi… cheesecake? You like THAT, don’t you! Anyway, all I ask of you is be daring enough and bear with me on this one, because your tummy will not be let down.
We have quite an extensive dumpling culture in Hungary which means of course there is no universal recipe: everyone uses a very own ‘the one and only true’ method. Basic ingredients include cottage cheese, flour, egg and breadcrumbs but as you’d expect, there may be additions and instructions, as well as proportions do sometimes differ significantly.
Anyone who says is a bigger fan of these than I am is a liar, but I admittedly don’t eat túrógombóc anywhere else but home anymore. The reason? They are simply never to my taste. Too hard, too floury, not sweet enough, the list goes on and on… so I decided to share my take on the subject. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, some of you will see the light too! 🙂
The recipe my family is sticking to was acquired a long-long time ago from an old lady in my grandmother’s 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. Never had a túrógombóc anything like this and all who tried ours, being suspicious at first as they were, was 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.
The Not-Your-Average Cottage Cheese Dumpling:
250 g unsalted cottage cheese
15 g vanilla sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 medium-size egg, whole
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/8 tsp salt
40 g all-purpose flour
40 g semolina (grits)
75 g breadcrumbs
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp granulated sugar
In a medium-sized bowl, mix all ingredients well and let sit.
Meanwhile, in a pan on medium-high heat brown breadcrumbs on butter, add sugar, set aside.
Put water on the stove, add a pinch of salt. Make dumplings, about 4 cm in diameter from batter and gently put in boiling water. Carefully stir so dumplings don’t stick to bottom. They are ready as soon as they emerge to the surface: using a slotted spoon, transfer them to pan and roll to cover in breadcrumbs.
Best served fresh. Makes about 10 dumplings. Recipe can (and should!) be doubled, just as you can see on the image of ingredients. Enjoy as dessert or as second course after hearty soups.
And my experience-based advice to go along the recipe: I’m pro health&fitness and all, but don’t use low-fat cottage cheese this time. I never pound my cheese because I like a rustic texture with visible crumbs. Be careful not to add sugar to browned breadcrumbs too soon, you don’t want it caramelizing. While you can totally make the dumplings with wet hands, I prefer keeping mine clean and use a tablespoon to shape them (safer to put them in boiling water too). Start with a test-dumpling to see if batter holds. If it falls apart, add some more semolina. Don’t put more than 4-5 dumplings in water at a time to avoid overcooking. We eat them plain, but feel free to pour sour cream on, sprinkle with cinnamon and/or powdered sugar, add jam, poppy seed or whatever floats your boat.
Do yourself a favor and try this whether you are local or not. As your self-elected Túrógombóc Ambassador, I can’t wait to hear about the experience!
Good luck & Jó étvágyat (Bon Appetit)!