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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Grandma Zsoka's Gomboc Dessert Dumplings (Szilvas Gomboc)

When I was a little boy I used to go with my mother to Masury, Ohio during each summer and stay with Grandma and Grandpa Zsoka for a few weeks. Grandma’s house always smelled of freshly baked bread and Hungarian pastries which she kept covered with crisp, white linens.
She made a particular dessert, which at the time, I believed was called “Gumboat.” I have recently learned that its correct name is “Gomboc” and it is essentially the Hungarian, dessert version, of an Italian gnocchi. It is stuffed with either a sweetened whole prune or prune filling (lekvar). I loved this dessert and whenever we visited with Grandma Zsoka or she visited us in New Jersey she would make it for us. It can be eaten with a knife and fork, or held in the hand and eaten like an apple.

Ingredients:
One small can of prune filling (lekvar)
4 medium sized potatoes
1 large egg or two small, beaten
4 level cups of sifted flour (through a strainer is fine)
1 tsp salt
½ cup butter
1 cup of bread crumbs
½ cup of sugar
2 tsp of cinnamon

Directions:
Toast breadcrumbs in the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. With a spatula or tongs, continually turn them over until they turn a medium brown color. Do not over toast or they will get bitter. Mix the browned bread crumbs and the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and put aside.

Peel potatoes, cut up and cook in salted water until tender, then drain and mash them. In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes while warm to the sifted flour and salt. Add the beaten egg and mix all until a dough like consistency is reached. Place the ball of dough on a floured board and roll out to a thickness between ¼ and ½ inch. Cut the dough into 4” squares.

Place a teaspoon of prune filling (lekvar) in the center of each square and turn into a ball by doing the following: Connect two corners in center over lekvar and pinch together. Connect other two corners in same manner. Now bring four resulting corners in and pinch them as close to the center as you can. As you are doing this, you are working your way toward a round shape. Keep pinching any seam that does not seem closed. Once all seams are sealed by pinching, roll the ball between your palms, bottom palm facing upward. Once all the dough has been turned into gumboc balls (you should get 20 to 24 balls) do the following.

Drop four or five gumboc balls at a time into boiling water. Let cook for 10 minutes and adjust heat so that water boils but not too violently. Early during the boiling time you may need to separate each ball from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Lift each batch of gumbocs from the boiling water with a slotted spoon or ladle and while the next batch is cooking do the following.

Roll each gumboc in the bowl of breadcrumb-sugar-cinnamon mixture until thoroughly coated and place on a buttered cookie tray in the oven (200 degrees) to keep warm. Repeat this with each batch.

Gumbocs can be served as is or with a dollop of sour cream on a dish. They can also be frozen, after cooking, until needed. Let thaw completely at room temperature (don’t use the microwave) and re-heat in oven until warm.

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