Túrógombóc combines two culinary traditions: Hungary’s fondness for túró, a fresh curd cheese appearing in many dishes, and the Czech and German preference for knödels/dumplings. It’s one of those foods that amount to more than the sum of their parts, especially when kept light with only a minimal amount of flour or semolina. The sour cream and powdered sugar toppings drive home the signature sweet-tart flavor of the dumplings.
Yield: makes 12-14 dumplings or 4-5 servings; Total time: 20 minutes cooking time plus 2 hours resting time
For the dumplings
500 grams (2 ¼ cups) Hungarian túró or crumbly cottage cheese, mashed with a fork to a paste
3 medium eggs, well beaten
90 grams (½ cup) semolina flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (using 1 medium lemon)
Pinch of salt
For the fried breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
120 grams (1 cup) breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
50 grams (½ cup) powdered sugar
200 grams (¾ cup) sour cream, not too cold
Step 1: Using a spatula and a mixing bowl, stir all ingredients together for the dumplings: túró (cottage cheese), beaten eggs, semolina, powdered sugar, grated lemon zest, and salt. Melt the butter in a skillet (or in a microwave) over medium heat until it starts to foam, then pour it over the túró mixture.
Step 2: Stir the mixture until smooth. Put aside, and let it rest for two hours in the fridge so that the semolina can absorb moisture and give structure to the dumplings.
Step 3: Bring 3 liters (3.2 quarts) of salted water to a low simmer in a large pot. With wet hands, form 12 or so round dumplings from the túró mixture and slide them into the water. Be sure the water is only at a bare simmer else the dumplings might disintegrate.
Step 4: In the meantime, heat butter in a pan and add the breadcrumbs when butter has started to foam. Toast on medium heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes (stir constantly as the breadcrumbs burn easily). Add sugar and cinnamon to the breadcrumbs, mix well, then turn off the heat.
Step 5: Scoop out the túró dumplings from the pot with a strainer or slotted spoon a minute after they appear on the surface, about 8 minutes in total, then roll them in the breadcrumbs. Transfer the túró dumplings to a plate, add a few dollops of sour cream and a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar on top and serve immediately.
Words of advice
To ensure the right consistency, you can start by cooking only a single dumpling and see how it turns out. If it’s too crumbly or falls apart, add a bit more semolina to the dough; if it’s too hard, increase the amount of túró.
I created these recipes with the help of nearly a dozen historical Hungarian cookbooks, adjusting ingredients, cooking times, and methods to reflect my own preferences and tastes of the current day.