Sweet dumplings made with cottage cheese and semolina and coated with sugary breadcrumbs – Romanian papanasi fierti.
Last week I introduced you to one of my favorite Romanian desserts, one of the best known desserts in Romania: Cheese Doughnuts or papanasi. Papanasi prajiti to be exact, which means Fried Cheese Doughnuts. Today I will give you the recipe for another version of papanasi – papanasi fierti, which means that the papanasi are cooked and not fried. So, this would be the healthier version as well!
Although they are both called papanasi in Romanian, I could not call today’s papanasi doughnuts in English and I could not call last week’s papanasi dumplings. Same Romanian name, pretty much the same ingredients, though the end result is something very different in my opinion. Last week’s papanasi were decadent, calorie-laden, fried doughnuts oozing with jam and smetana/ crème fraiche, while today’s papanasi are light, delicate dumplings (a bit like gnocchi), sweetened only by the sugary breadcrumb coating.
I could not say which of these papanasi I like best. When I eat the fried ones, I like the fried ones better, (although there is always this guilty feeling involved – I can never eat something fried with an easy conscience). And when I make the cooked dumplings (which is actually a more frequent affair) then I like the cooked dumplings more. My son and husband love both versions and my daughter would only eat the dumplings. So, make both versions and decide which one you like best! 🙂
As I cannot buy the typical branza de vaci used to make the Romanian Cheese Dumplings and the Romanian Cheese Doughnuts in Germany, I used cottage cheese again. Just make sure to drain the cheese for a while before you make the dough and add a little bit more flour if necessary to obtain a manageable dough. Don’t overdo it though, too much flour will result in tougher dumplings, which taste well as well, but are not so airy and light as they are supposed to be.
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz/ 1⅛ cups cottage cheese
- 1 medium egg
- 50 g/ 1.7 oz/ ¼ cup semolina
- 50 g/ 1.7 oz/ 1.3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 regular level tablespoons vanilla sugar (not American measuring spoons)
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 75 g/ 2.6 oz/ ¾ cup dry breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons sugar or more to taste
- more flour for the working surface
- Give the cottage cheese to a fine mesh sieve and drain thoroughly.
- Start by preparing the breadcrumbs. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the breadcrumbs and stir for a few minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden. Transfer to a large bowl and let get cool. When cold, add the sugar and mix well.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt.
- In the meantime mix the drained cottage cheese, egg and vanilla sugar in a bowl. With the immersion blender, blend the ingredients until you obtain a rough paste. Add the semolina and the flour and mix with a spoon. The dough should be soft and a little bit sticky, but still manageable.
- Sprinkle the working surface generously with flour. Turn the dough onto the flour and form a ball. If the dough is too soft and you cannot really work with it, gradually add a little more flour. Don't overdo it or the dumplings will turn out too tough. The dough should be very soft and it is ok if it is still a bit sticky.
- Flour your hands and form a sausage, about 3-4 cm/ 1.1 – 1.5 inches in diameter. Cut the sausage into about 20 pieces. With floured hands roll each piece into a ball. Turn this ball very lightly through the flour on the working surface (only if it's extremely sticky), shake to remove the excess flour and press into a disc. With a floured finger press a small dent in the middle of the dumpling.
- When the water is boiling, turn the heat down to medium low. Give all the dumplings to the pot. They will sink to the bottom of the pan, so take a slotted spoon and go under the dumplings to prevent them sticking to the pot. After a few minutes the dumplings will come up. Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the dumplings in the hot water for another 5 minutes.
- Remove with a slotted spoon, drain shortly in a sieve and roll each dumpling in the breadcrumb mixture. Serve warm as they are or topped with some runny jam.
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