Apricots and I have never seen eye to eye nor formed a tight and trusting bond. However more recently they have replaced the strawberries in my fruit baskets, which by itself isn’t such a big thing – both fruits are in season right now. What does make it special is that I’m one of those people who have serious issues with fruits that come with odd textures, especially fruits that may be mealy. Plums, pears and apricots are on top of my Eew-list and as soon as I stumble upon a seriously mealy sample, this entire species will be disregarded for a long time. In hindsight apricots have fooled me the most. Little suckers. First they finagle themselves into your shopping basket with a radiant and extremely appealing orange-red look, just to disappoint on a first bite: mealy, too sour, or what not.
A spontaneous trip to our friends Erika and Georg in Vienna helped to jump-start that broken trust and allowed me to reconnect with what the Austrians call Marille – we ate plenty of them wrapped in Palatschinken (stuffed pancakes), hidden in cakes or drank their juice. Maybe I should have considered alternative ways to prepare apricots sooner, rethink the way I use them in my kitchen?
I’m usually hesitant to process fresh seasonal fruits (simply love them sliced over yogurt or salads), with apricots it has become a must for me – in the land of baked or boiled apricots my aversion against its possibly mealy texture dissolves (pun intended) into thin air. Last week not only did I bake apricot crisps and cakes, we enjoyed a enormous bowl of apricot sorbet and over a dozen jars filled with apricot jam are waiting on a pantry shelf to sweeten colder times. My can’t-touch-it-favorite out of all of these?
Marillenknödel - delicious dumplings filled with apricots, rolled in butter-roasted breadcrumbs. Probably the best that could happen to this fruit, at any rate for a dumpling lover like me. Maybe forming these may be considered a bit tricky (the curd cheese/semolina dough is almost as sticky as this one and the fruits need to be covered tightly), but the results are well worth the fiddling and cursing – you’ll get more advanced with every fruit you wrap. Apricots aren’t your thing or out of season? Try cherries, plums, damson plums or even grapes, they all make a worthy substitute!
Strain the curd cheese in a fine mesh sieve, an hour is great, but 15 minutes are enough if you’re in a hurry though. Wash the lemon and rub dry, then zest it with a grater, you’ll need about 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Wash the apricots and pad them dry, then cut them open along their seams (only halfway!) and remove their pits. Fill with either one piece of cube sugar or half a teaspoon of brown sugar (e.g. Demerara).
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a generous pinch of salt and reduce the temperature until the water bubbles just very lightly.
In a big bowl cream together the strained curd cheese, butter, egg yolk, semolina, vanilla sugar, salt and lemon zest using a wooden spoon or similar. Lastly add the flour and mix in only long enough until you can form the dough into a thick log (if the dough is still very sticky, you may add more flour by the tablespoon, but then your dumplings will turn out firmer in the end).
Cut the log into into 6 equally sized slices. Slightly flour your hands and form little discs, then place a sugar filled apricot on top of each and wrap it tightly with the dough. Form a neat little dumpling (re-flour your hands as necessary) and double check that the apricots are completely covered by the dough.
Bring the pot of water to a boil and carefully slip the dumplings into the water, stir every now and then to make sure none got stuck to the bottom of the pot, then let them simmer at low heat for 12 to 14 minutes.
Meanwhile melt some butter in a pan over medium heat and roast the breadcrumbs (amounts to your liking, ratio about 1:2), add sugar if desired. Remove the dumplings with a skimmer, then roll them in the pan with the buttered breadcrumbs until evenly covered. Serve hot and finish with powdered or cinnamon sugar. An elegant and visually stunning alternative: Roll the hot dumplings in ground pistachios.
Curd cheese dumplings filled with apricots (Marillenknödel)
Recipe source: own creation
Prep time: ~30 minutes, cooking: 12-14 min.
Ingredients (yields about 6 dumplings):
250g curd (20%)
1/2 tsp zest of an untreated lemon
6 small apricots
6 pieces of cube sugar (or 3 tsp of brown sugar)
25g soft butter
1 egg yolk (medium)
1-2 tbsp vanilla sugar
a pinch of salt
50g all-purpose flour (type 405), plus additional for forming
powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar