The perfect mixture of savory and sweet — Sour Cherry Varenikis! Serve with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy this traditional Ukrainian treat.
Just about every culture has their version of a filled dumpling. Whether you call them pierogi, gyoza, or even ravioli, we all seem to love them.
The origin of sour cherry varenikis is a bit vague, as several different Eastern European countries claim to have invented them.
Wherever they came from, I’m thankful for these fruit-filled dumplings.
You might think that being cherry-filled designates these as a dessert, but that’s certainly not how I eat them!
When served with a big dollop of sour cream, they take on a savory quality that is undeniably delicious.
Varenikis are absolutely perfect for an appetizer, or as part of a larger spread of dishes.
I’m pretty sure this is the first Ukrainian recipe I’ve shared on the blog.
I don’t want to lie to you; making vareniki can be a bit of a pain.
The dough is easy to make, but rolling it out and forming each of the individual varenikis takes some time.
When it comes to dough, I’m a stickler for consistency. I always buy the same flour so I can count on my recipes to turn out the same each time. My flour of choice is Bob’s Red Mill’s Organic All-Purpose Flour.
I’ve been working with Bob’s Red Mill for nearly three years now, and I’m always happy to spread the word about their exceptional products.
I use their organic all-purpose flour for just about everything. It might be controversial, but I even use it to bake many of my favorite bread recipes. I love making Honey & Herb French Bread and Rustic Olive Bread, especially during the holidays.
Not going to lie, sometimes my dinner is nothing but bread dipped in oil and vinegar.
Along with the flour, my vareniki dough calls for an egg, salt, baking powder, and kefir. If you’re not familiar with kefir, it’s a fermented milk product that is popular across Eastern and Northern Europe.
I buy mine at my local Kroger, but if you have a hard time finding it you can substitute with a mixture of buttermilk and sour cream. Kefir is a bit thicker and tangier than buttermilk, so I would use a ratio of two parts buttermilk to one part sour cream.
As with most “traditional” recipes, everyone and their grandmother (literally) has their own way to make it.
I love the way these vareniki turn out – the dough has a tangy quality to it and is thick enough to make the vareniki feel like a substantial dish.
I’ve heard that some people sprinkle the tart cherries with sugar before stuffing the varenikis, but I like to sweeten the dish by serving it with cherry sauce. It adds a pop of color to the plate for a very pretty presentation.
The one thing that appears to be universally mandatory is serving the vareniki with sour cream. Don’t skip it!
Here’s the Recipe!
Sour Cherry Varenikis Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup kefir
- 1 large egg
- 1 14-ounce can sour cherries
- 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup sour cream for serving
- Place two cups of the flour in a large mixing bowl along with the sea salt and baking soda.
- Whisk the kefir and egg together in a small bowl. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the kefir mix. Gently knead together the dough, adding more flour one tablespoon at a time, until the dough stops sticking to your fingers. Form the dough in a ball, cover the bowl with a damp towel, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, prepare the sour cherry sauce: Pour the can of cherries through a sieve into a medium bowl. Set aside one cup of the strained cherries to use as filling. Place the liquid from the can along with the remaining cherries into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and cornstarch; cook over medium heat until thickened. Set aside.
- When the dough is done resting, dust a clean surface with flour and roll the dough into a long log. Dust the log with flour and cut it into 20 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a disc, then use a floured rolling pin to roll each piece into 3" circles.
- Place 2 or 3 cherries into the center of each circle. Fold the dough into a half-circle to enclose the cherries; pinch or pleat together to seal. The dough will be very elastic, so you may need to re-stretch the pieces a little bit as you form the varenikis.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Set out a large mixing bowl and place the butter in the bottom. Place one completed vareniki into the water and boil for 60 seconds. Remove the vareniki with a slotted spoon and test to ensure the dough is cooked through.
- Cook the remaining vareniki in batches, straining them from the pot and placing them in the bowl to toss with butter. To serve, place the cooked vareniki on a platter and top with cherry sauce and dollops of sour cream.
Special thanks to the wonderful people over at Bob’s Red Mill who were kind enough to sponsor this recipe!
Please note that these are sometimes spelled Varenikas or Varenikes.
We usually do pierogi for Christmas Eve, made from my grandmother’s recipe. Unlike most Polish pierogi we fill ours with fruits, cheese, and sauerkraut. These remind me of them so much. We eat our with melted butter and salt, love the idea of sour cream!
Its like you read my mind! It has been on my list to figure out how to make these things!!! Have you been to Katchka in inner SE Portland yet? It was voted best restaurant of the year last year and got the official stamp of approval from my husband’s Russian family. Their cherry dumplings are out of this world, Sooo damn good!
Yes! Dimitry and I went there a few months ago and we loved the dumplings. And the vodka. So other than the dumplings I don’t remember much of the experience 😉