What is Marillenknödel?
Marillenknödel is a deliciously sweet apricot dumpling from Austria. (Marillen is the Austrian-German word for apricots while knödel means dumpling.) They’re made by wrapping dough around ripe apricots then simmering them in lightly salted water. Once cooked, the dumplings are rolled in toasted breadcrumbs before being served with icing sugar or warm honey butter.
You’d be forgiven if you thought these sweet, luscious, fruit pastries are a dessert, but in Austria, they are most often served at lunch, as the main course.
The Best Marillenknödel are Made With Apricots from the Wachau Valley
A few years ago, I sailed the Danube River through Central Europe with Viking River Cruises. The itinerary offered a surprising number of food-driven experiences and excursions – some included and others optional.
One of my favorites was an apricot dumpling workshop that took place at a scenic monastery, high above the clouds in the Wachau Valley, near Krems, Austria. Gottweig Abbey is a living, breathing monastery where Benedictine monks have worshipped, worked, and cooked for over 900 years.
The marillenknodel workshop took place inside the abbey’s intimate attic kitchen where the pastry chef demonstrated how to prepare delicious marillenknödel using local fruit harvested from the monastery’s own apricot trees.
If you’ll be in Austria in December, don’t miss my comprehensive guide to the Vienna Christmas Markets!
The experience was super local and pure magic. Not only did I get a glimpse inside a grand abbey’s kitchen, but I also got to taste those delightfully different fruit-filled pastries. And more importantly, I learned the monks’ secret recipe for the most heavenly, traditional marillenknödel.
Now I’m sharing that recipe with you.
Chef: Ureka Gabler
Makes: 7 Dumplings
- 7 frozen apricots, pitted
- 250 g (1 cup) creamy farmers cheese or quark
- 150 g (1 cup) plain flour
- 2 tablespoons semolina flour
- 1 egg
- 70 g (3 1/2 tbsp) butter
- 150 g (1 cup) white bread crumbs (fine)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 50 g (3 tablespoons) butter
- 100 g (1/2 cup) clarified butter
- 50 g (3 tablespoons) honey
Gently wash fresh apricots. Slice them in half and remove the pits. Insert a sugar cube inside each apricot, where the pit was, and squeeze the halves back together. Place in an airtight plastic bag and freeze for up to three months.
To make the dumplings, mix all the ingredients to a smooth dough and let it rest for at least 12 hours in the fridge.
Wrap the apricot with the dough and form a nice round dumpling. Simmer the dumpling in salted (1 teaspoon) water for 15 – 20 minutes. It ready when it starts to float.
Roast white bread crumbs with butter, sugar, and vanilla sugar until golden brown. Flavor with cinnamon. Allow to cool before rolling the boiled dumplings in the crumbs to coat.
To make the topping, melt the butter and mix it with the honey. Spoon the honey butter sauce over the dumplings and serve.
- Fresh apricots can be used instead of frozen, assuming they are in season where you live.
- A half-cup of ricotta cheese plus a half-cup of plain Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute for the farmers cheese/quark.
- If you don’t have vanilla sugar on hand, you can substitute with vanilla powder or vanilla extract.
- Feel free to add ground almonds to the bread crumbs.
- Use clarified butter for the honey butter topping.(See Julia Child’s method for clarifying butter.)
- The dumplings can be made ahead of time and frozen on a tray then simmered from frozen.
- Warm up any leftovers in a steamer basket.
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