Túrógombóc (Sweet Cottage Cheese Dumplings)

apricot crostata

Cheese plays an important role in Hungarian gastronomy — dairy is just part of the culture. And one of the most important dairy products is the sweet cheese called túró. It’s basically the cottage cheese of Hungary, but with finer curds and a lot less whey. Túró makes it into many recipes, sweet and savory. One of my favorite savory recipes is túrós csusza, a noodle dish with bacon I grew up eating and still enjoy to this day. You can see my recipe and video on it here. But, of course, túró also makes it into many sweet dishes like cakes, strudels, and pastries all made with túró, but one of the most popular is túrógombóc.

Imagine this fluffy ball or dumpling of sweet cheese that’s boiled and then rolled in breadcrumbs. It’s so versatile that it can work as either a main course or a dessert. It’s sweet, filling, and very satisfying — and the best (or worst) part is that once you start eating them, you can’t stop. In my family, we ate túrógombóc as a dessert with jam. My favorite way to enjoy them was with either sour cherry jam or apricot jam. Either of these tart preserves makes the perfect pairing because they cut through the richness of the túró.

So for this recipe, I’m presenting to you my mom’s túrógombóc recipe served with a unique apricot jam that’s flavored with lavender and honey. I first discovered this combination a few years ago when I purchased some homemade apricot jam from a lady in Budapest’s Great Market Hall. I’ve always been a fan of apricot jam since it was a specialty of my Grandma Annuska and my mom’s best friend Eva. Both made the tastiest, runniest apricot jam, that I loved eating on everything from toast to waffles.

But this more fragrant version of that apricot jam is so different with just a hint of floral lavender and the sweet, spicy taste of linden honey. I love the play on flavors. And to keep the uniqueness going, I add toasted chopped almonds to the breadcrumb coating, so it's not just any plain breadcrumbs. This interplay of flavors makes this túrógombóc recipe even more appealing than the typical version. I think you'll agree!

Túrógombóc (Sweet Cottage Cheese Dumplings)

16 ounces túró
3 eggs separated
1/3 cup softened butter
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon salt plus 1 tablespoon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup cream of wheat or farina
Almond-Breadcrumb Coating, recipe follows
powdered sugar, for serving
Apricot Jam with Lavender and Honey, recipe follows

Using a pastry blender/cutter, mash the curds of the túró until they are nice and smooth, so they resemble ricotta.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until semi-stiff peaks form. Remove the beaten egg whites to a bowl.

Change the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment. Add the butter and sugar, and beat until pale and fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon salt, vanilla, and egg yolks, and continue beating until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl at least once.

Add the túró to the bowl of the mixer, and beat until incorporated. With the machine on low, add the cream of wheat, a little at a time, and mix until fully incorporated.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the egg whites in two additions.

Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, form the dumplings and place them onto a tray lined with parchment paper.

Let the balls of sweet cheese rest for about an hour at room temperature so that the cream of wheat has a chance to absorb the moisture from the túró.

Meanwhile, prepare the almond-breadcrumb coating and the apricot jam, both recipes follow.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season with 1 tablespoon salt. Once the water has reached a boil, add the dumplings about five or six at a time.

Once the dumplings float to the top, about 5 to 6 minutes, transfer them to the breadcrumb mixture, and roll to coat. Then transfer them to a serving plate or platter. Repeat until you’ve boiled all the dumplings.

Serve the dumplings with the remaining almond-breadcrumb coating, powdered sugar, and the apricot jam. Yield: Approximately 20 dumplings.

Apricot Jam with Lavender and Honey

1 pound apricots, pitted and cut into eighths
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon culinary lavender buds
1/4 cup linden honey

Add the apricot pieces to a saucepan with the lemon juice, sugar, and lavender buds. Bring to a boil, and lower to a simmer. Let the fruit cook down to a soft consistency, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the apricot jam from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Add the honey, and mix to incorporate. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to use.

Almond-Breadcrumb Coating

1/4 cup chopped blanched, slivered almonds
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

In a skillet set over medium heat, toast the chopped almonds until light brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the butter, and let it melt and foam slightly. Add the breadcrumbs, mixing to incorporate.

Let the breadcrumbs toast a bit without stirring, about 1 to 2 minutes, and then stir. Repeat until you get a nice medium brown color.

Transfer the breadcrumb mixture to a large plate or platter for rolling the dumplings.


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