Sweet Cheese Dumplings

Chef Stefan Hierzer
Restaurant: Hotel Imperial
Vienna, Austria

Stefan Hierzer pipes a beautiful swirled chocolate design on the plates, then fills the large spaces in the swirl with strawberry pureé, before he even starts adding the dumplings. These cheese dumplings are boiled in rum-scented water, then rolled in crunchy butter-sautéed breadcrumbs and dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Serves 4

Strawberry Pureé
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup dried fine breadcrumbs
1/4 cup sugar

2 cups fresh bread cubes
1¼ cup sweet (farmer's) cheese (substitute: ricotta)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 vanilla bean
1 egg
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup rum

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 to 16 blueberries
4 strawberries, halved
12 to 16 raspberries
4 mint leaves
confectioners' sugar for dusting

To make the pureé: Combine the strawberries and sugar in a food processor or blender and pureé. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and set aside.

To make the coating: Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan and stir in the breadcrumbs and sugar. Sauté until golden and crispy. Set aside in a shallow bowl or plate.

To make the dumplings: In a large bowl, mix the bread cubes, cheese and zests. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the tiny seeds into the mixture; discard the pod (or place in granulated sugar to make vanilla sugar). With a wooden spoon, stir in the egg, pinch of salt and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1/2 cup rum. Form the dumpling mixture into 2-inch balls. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water and cook 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on towels.

To serve: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Put into a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain tip, or put into a small plastic bag and snip a tiny hole in one corner. Pipe a design on each of four dessert plates, incorporating two large circles in the design. Let set for 1 minute. With the tip of a spoon, fill the circles with strawberry pureé. Roll the dumplings in the coating mixture and place two or three dumplings on each plate. Garnish each plate with a few blueberries, one split strawberry and a few raspberries, topped with a mint leaf. Dust the dumplings with confectioners' sugar.

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