This should be the last dumpling post … for a while, anyway.
There are as many recipes for making these sweet cheese dumplings as there are Hungarian grandmothers (nagyanya, nagymama).
Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration but, net surfing, even just on Hungarian web sites, will reveal lots of variations. In some, you separate your eggs and beat the whites to hard peaks before you fold them into the sweetened egg yolks along with the rest of the ingredients. Lemon zest or no lemon zest. And then there’s the addition of raisins. Cinnamon or no cinnamon with the sugar at the end? There are even recipes where the only sugar added is in the bread crumb coating.
Since this dish wasn’t served in my Romanian home, I feel that I can pick and choose the ingredients that best appeal to me. The recipe below is a combination of those recipes, with options for personalizing the dumplings to your taste.
I made my own ‘farmer’s or dry curd cheese’, or as close as I can get, which is my paneer cheese.
Here’s a picture of the tester dumpling.
Sweet Hungarian Farmer’s Cheese Dumplings (Turogomboc) – makes 32-34 dumplings, enough to serve 6 to 8 people
For the dumplings:
1 lb/454 gm farmer’s or dry curd or paneer cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 oz/113 gm semolina
1 pinch salt
Optional additions to the dumpling mixture:
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp of raisins
2 tbsp granulated sugar
For the sauce:
2 tbsp unsalted butter, or vegetable oil
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
To serve: sour cream, your favourite jam or powdered sugar
If using commercially purchased farmer’s cheese, use a wooden spoon to press the farmer’s cheese through a medium sieve into a large bowl. For freshly made farmer’s cheese or paneer, as I used, a regular fork should allow you to break up the cheese into even crumbles.
Add the egg, the semolina, and the pinch of salt. (If using, this is the point at which you would add the lemon zest, sugar and raisins.). Mix with the spoon until the dumpling dough reaches a uniformly stiff consistency. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Fill a large pot with water, bring to the boil, and add a teaspoon or so of salt.
Combine the granulated sugar with the cinnamon, if using.
While the dough chills, prepare the toasted breadcrumbs. Melt the butter in a nonstick or cast iron pan. Add the bread crumbs, stirring and tossing until you get a golden brown colour. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. You can add the sugar (and cinnamon) at this point.
Reduce the heat so the water is not boiling furiously.
With a soup spoon, scoop out enough dough to form dumplings about one inch in diameter. Shape them roughly into balls and drop gently into the water. Do not crowd the dumplings in the water so only use half the dough at a time.
Give your dumplings a gentle stir to make sure they don’t rest on the bottom of the pot and stick. When the dumplings float to the surface they are done. (Test by removing one of the dumplings and cutting it in half. The interior should be uniform in colour. If the center appears paler, continue cooking for another minute or two.)
Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked dumplings to the pan of sweetened bread crumbs.
Roll the dumplings around until they’re well coated.
Serve immediately with some powdered sugar or sour cream, thinned a bit with milk. Or your favourite jam.