Cherry Vareniki (Cherry Dumplings)
In all the years that I have been married (not that it’s that many, but nevertheless) I have never made vareniki from scratch. I have an amazing grandpa who, after my grandma died 3 years ago took over her hobby and started making vareniki and pel’meni for our whole family. We all love it! But one day, realizing that I have never done it myself I dug up my recipe book, that I as a 14-year-old that just came to America decided to put together, rewriting recipes from my mom’s recipe book, and found a recipe called “Lyuba’s Pelmeni Recipe”. I still remember how my mom raved about this recipe and how excited she was that her friend shared it with her.
To those unfamiliar with the terms, vareniki (vuh-reh-nee-ky) and pelmeni (pehl’-meh-nee), they are Ukrainian stuffed pasta, just like ravioli or Chinese dumplings (dim sum). Vareniki can be stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheese, sauerkraut, cheese, cherries, strawberries, blueberries or anything else you can think of. Pelmeni on the other side, are always stuffed with meat (of any kind).
The reason that I mentioned both in this post is because both can be made with the same dough. You make one dough, divide it and make it with different fillings of your choice .
Make them savory for dinner or lunch, or sweet for a dessert. No one complains in our house when we have dessert for dinner. How could they? These taste amazing!
Many people go cherry picking in the summer, and preserve the cherries just so that they can make cherry vareniki, all year round.
Vareniki or pelmeni make a great fast food because if you have some of these in your freezer, and they freeze well, you can have vareniki in probably 15 minutes (10 minutes to bring water to boil, 5 minutes to cook).
In fact, a lot of expecting moms stuff their freezers with vareniki, so that when the newborn’s hectic schedule interferes with your inner gourmet soul, you can still eat delicious food, without having to order takeout.
This recipe makes about 120-140 pieces, which is probably enough for up to 10 people. If you don’t need that many, just freeze the rest, you will be glad you did, later.
Here’s how you make vareniki…
Cherry Dumplings (Cherry ‘Vareniki’)
Homemade dough filled with a sweet cherry filling, boiled and tossed in butter. A classic Ukrainian dessert dish.
- Tart Cherries canned
In a bowl of a mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine 2 cups milk, 1 egg, 1 stick butter/margarine, 1 tsp salt, and 3 cups of flour. Mix at low speeds until thoroughly combined. Add 2 more cups of flour and knead until a smooth dough, that doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl forms.
Let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour, at room temperature.
Drain the cherries from the liquid over a colander.
Dust a couple of rimmed baking sheets with flour. Set aside.
Once the dough has rested, divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them into balls.
Working with one dough ball at a time, roll it out with a rolling-pin until about 2 mm thin, dusting the surface with flour, to keep the dough from sticking to the table. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out circles, as close to each other as possible. Collect all the pieces around the circles and add them to the rest of the dough (keep the dough balls covered between use).
Place 2 cherries in the middle of each circle. Working with one circle at a time, fold it in half, keeping the cherries from moistening the edges (this will keep them from forming a seal), and press the two edges together to form a half circle shaped dumpling. Place it onto the dusted baking sheet. Keep working with the rest of the dough circles and then move onto the next dough ball, until all dough and cherries are used.
In a large pot, over high heat, bring 4 quarts of water to boil. Working with about 30 vareniki at a time, drop them into the water, one at a time and mix with a spoon. Bring to a boil again and lower the heat to medium. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, after they float to the top or until soft and cooked though. Place 1-2 tablespoons butter into a serving dish. Remove vareniki from the water with a colander and into bowl with the butter. Shake the bowl to coat all vareniki with the butter and to keep them from sticking to each other. Let them sit for about 3-5 minutes, to cool slightly.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of sugar.
If this makes more then you can use at a time, freeze the rest on a flour dusted baking sheet, then put the vareniki in a ziplock bag, until next time.
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