The cookbook challenge is coming to an end, this is the last one – for now at least. This is going back to the basics and my Austrian roots with the Plachutta “My Viennese Kitchen” cookbook. Plachutta is one of my favourite restaurants in Vienna and they are famous for their beef dishes. “The Good Kitchen”, one of my top 3 favourite cookbooks of all time, was co-written by Mr. Plachutta as well. So a few years ago, my dad got me a signed copy of his newest book. Finding something in there I hadn’t made before was surely going to be a big challenge. Adding to that Mick’s special request of “traditional, but different”, I knew it wasn’t going to be all that easy.
Eventually, I went for Quark Dumplings. I had made the dough before but made the dumplings with plums in the middle, not just plain ones. For them you need something fruity to go with it, so I decided to be experimental there. Traditionally you eat them with a plum sauce or apple sauce, but I decided to use cowberries, which I got in a jar as a whole with sauce around them. Not as saucy as a jam. For the twist, I just decided to add Whisky.
Quark Dumplings with Cranberry Whisky Sauce
For the dough:
350g quark (sometimes referred to as curd cheese but that is produced differently)
50g butter100g breadcrumbs
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons icing sugar
Zest of half a lemon
For the icing:
For the sauce:
Cranberries or cowberries in a jar, whole with sauce
For the dough you simply mix all the ingredients together. Make sure the butter is soft so you won’t have clumps in the dough later which will then make holes in the dumpling. Once the dough is thoroughly mixed through, put it in the fridge to rest for about an hour.
Once the dough has rested, put on a big pot of water and bring it to the boil. Whilst that is heating up, start forming the dumplings out of the dough. They should have a diameter of about 4 cm, and I admit I also prefer them rather small. Make sure your hands are thoroughly covered in flour because it’s a very sticky dough. Then cover the dumplings in a thin layer of flour before you put them in the boiling water. The dumplings need about 10 minutes in the boiling water. Many dumplings are ready when they rise to the surface of the water. Those will rise to the surface quite soon though, so don’t take them out just yet.
In the meantime, prepare the breadcrumbs to coat the dumplings. Since it’s the last challenge, I will admit that Austrian cuisine wouldn’t work without breadcrumbs. In case you were wondering. In the original recipe, the breadcrumbs just get roasted in a ton of butter. Since that’s not how my granny made it – here’s how it really goes.
Put a big knob of butter in a hot pan and melt it. Then pour in breadcrumbs, I reckon about 100g. I always rather have too much breadcrumbs. Stir it and add castor sugar- I’d say about a third the amount of the breadcrumbs. The goal here is to get the sugar melted, caramelised and have the breadcrumbs nice and golden brown. You have to stir it often so it won’t burn or stick to the pan. Also when you’re finished and it’s cooling down you need to make sure you still occasionally stir it because otherwise it will get quite solid when the caramel hardens.
In a small pot, put in two big tablespoon full of the cranberries. Add a shot of whisky and bring it to the boil whilst steering it. Then put the pot aside to let it cool down.
When the dumplings are ready, take them out of the water and drain them of any excess water. Then roll them in the breadcrumbs until they are fully covered. Add some more breadcrumbs to the plate, sprinkle some icing sugar over the top and add the cranberry sauce. Finished!
Like I said, I had made that dough before for plum dumplings, which are some of my favourite. You can also stick a strawberry, an apricot or a piece of chocolate in the middle. Then you usually don’t need the fruity sauce anymore. Some also recommend making those dumplings with a potato dough, but I find it too heavy for a desert which is already so sweet. The quark dumplings turned out extremely light though, so that worked very well. I always like a spot of fruit with my dessert, so I wouldn’t have made them without the sauce. Adding the Whisky to the sauce gave it an extra zing which was much appreciated. My only problem is that I keep forgetting how filling they are and after the third dumpling I was completely stuffed. But the good kind of stuffed. If anyone’s wondering – yes, I’ll totally make them again!