Ricotta Dumplings ((Topfenknoederln auf Erdbeersauce))
This very Austrian dessert combines ricotta dumplings with strawberries. Three golf ball-sized dumplings, each rolled in cinnamon toasted bread crumbs, make one dessert. Sour cream is used to create the starburst designs on the plates instead of crème anglaise or whipping cream; it adds a little tang. Vanilla sugar is granulated sugar in which a split vanilla bean pod has been stored; substitute 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract if necessary. If the eggs you are using are rather small, use two whole eggs instead of the 1 egg - 1 yolk called for below.
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons, at room temperature
- Confectioner's Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1/2 orange
- Pinch of salt
- Egg - 1 large
- Egg yolk - 1
- Ricotta cheese - 1 pound, at room temperature
- Bread Crumbs - 1/3 cup
- Cake flour - 1/3 cup
- Bread Crumb Topping
- Fine Bread Crumbs - 2 cups
- Unsalted Butter - 1/4 cup
- Confectioner's Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Vanilla Sugar - 1 tablespoon
- Cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon
- Strawberries - 10, large
- Strawberry Puree - 1-1/2 cups, strained
- Sour Cream - 1/2 cup
To make the dumplings: With a hand mixer, beat the butter in a bowl until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until dissolved. Add the zests and salt, then whip in the egg and egg yolk. Beat in the ricotta, then beat until completely combined. By hand, fold in the bread crumbs and cake flour. Cover with plastic wrap; chill at least 1 hour. The batter may be made up to one day in advance.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Shape the dumplings by hand to make 12 balls. Put the dumplings in the hot water and cook 17 to 20 minutes. Do not let the water boil during the cooking time, as the water action could cause the dumplings to break apart. Remove with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on towels.
To make the topping: Combine the bread crumbs and butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly until the crumbs are completely coated with the butter and develop a golden brown color. Stir in the confectioner's sugar, vanilla sugar, and cinnamon and stir to combine. Set aside off the heat.
To serve: Cut six of the strawberries in half lengthwise; set aside. Pool strawberry puree in the bottom of each dessert plate, reserving a little of the puree. Put the sour cream in a squeeze bottle with a narrow tip and make three concentric rings of sour cream around the outer portion of the puree on each plate. Using a toothpick or the point of a sharp knife, pull through the sour cream rings from the center of the puree outwards at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock. Do the same thing half way between each pull. Reverse the direction, pulling from the outside in, and pull through the sour cream between each of the previous pulls. Roll the dumplings in the browned crumbs and place 3 dumplings in the center of each prepared plate. For each plate, dip 3 strawberry halves in the remaining puree and place between the dumplings; dip 1 whole strawberry in the puree and place on top of the dumplings.