Cottage cheese dumplings with semolina, coated in 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: Romanian Cheese Doughnuts with Jam - 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!
Cottage Cheese Dumplings
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. 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 of these Romanian desserts and decide which one you like best! 🙂
How to make?
- Start with frying the dried breadcrumbs until golden brown as they will need a little time to cool. Once they are completely cooled stir in the sugar. I normally add about 2 heaped tablespoons granulated sugar, you can add more if you want your cottage cheese dumplings to be sweeter.
- However, keep in mind that you will probably serve this Romanian dessert with jam, which is also sweet.
- As I cannot buy the typical branza de vaci used to make the Romanian cottage cheese dumplings and the Romanian Cheese Doughnuts with Jam in Germany, I used cottage cheese again.
- As the typical Romanian fresh cheese called branza de vaci or cow's cheese is dryer than the regular cottage cheese, 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 good but are not so airy and light as they are supposed to be.
- The Romanian fresh cheese is also slightly finer than regular cottage cheese. To obtain a similar consistency, you should blend the cottage cheese shortly, give it a finer structure, but don't turn it into a paste.
Form the cottage cheese dumplings:
- Once you have mixed the ingredients needed for this Romanian cottage cheese dumplings, you will have to form the papanasi.
- You will need a little more flour for forming the papanasi, but please, don't add too much or the papanasi will become very chewy. The dough should remain very soft and it is OK if it is still a bit sticky.
- Form a ball on the floured working surface and roll it into a sausage about 3 - 4 cm/ 1.1 - 1.5 inches thick. Cut the sausage into 20 pieces. Flour your hands and roll each piece into a ball. Turn these balls through the flour onto the working surface so that they are lightly coated in flour and pat them gently to remove the excess flour.
- Flatten the ball to form a disk and press a dent into the middle of the disk with your floured finger.
- While you form the dumplings bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and carefully give the Romanian dumplings to the pot. They will sink to the bottom of the pot.
- Take a slotted spoon and run it under the dumplings to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Cover the pan and simmer the cheese dumplings for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the papanasi stand in the hot water for another 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain in a sieve.
- Roll the wet dumplings into the breadcrumb and sugar mixture and serve immediately as they are best served warm. Serve as they are or topped with any kind of runny jam or even topped with more regular or vanilla sugar.
Other Romanian desserts:
Romanian Cottage Cheese Dumplings – Papanasi fierti
- 250 g cottage cheese 8.8 oz/ 1 ⅛ cups
- 1 medium egg
- 50 g semolina 1.7 oz/ ¼ cup
- 50 g all-purpose flour 1.7 oz/ 1.3 cup
- 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 75 g dry breadcrumbs 2.6 oz/ ¾ cup
- 2 tablespoons sugar or more to taste
- more flour for the working surface
- Drain: Place the cottage cheese into a fine-mesh sieve and drain thoroughly.
- Toast breadcrumbs: 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 them get cool. When cold, add the sugar and mix well.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt.
- Combine: 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.
- Dough: 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.
- Make dumplings: 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 highly 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.
- Cook dumplings: When the water is boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low. Place all the dumplings into the pot. They will sink to the bottom of the pan, so take a slotted spoon and go under the dumplings to prevent them from sticking to the pot. After a few minutes, the dumplings will come up. Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and let the dumplings in hot water for another 5 minutes.
- Coat with breadcrumbs: Remove dumplings with a slotted spoon, drain them in a sieve and roll each dumpling in the breadcrumb mixture. Serve warm as they are or topped with some runny jam.