Chocolate-Cream “Dumplings”

Somlói Galuska

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    12

    servings

Appears in

Peter, my Hungarian translator, had met me at a neighborhood café near my hotel and was taking me on a personal tour of the café’s glass dessert case, giving his picks and pans of the display. When he arrived at a bowl filled with scooped cake “dumplings,” layered with vanilla cream and topped with chocolate sauce and whipped-cream rosettes, he paused in reverence. It was Somlói Galuska (“Somló Dumplings”), named for a wine town near Lake Balaton, but a big-city dessert that is on the top of almost every Buda-pester’s short list of favorites.

This extravaganza originated at Gundel, the famous restaurant, but it isn’t difficult to prepare at home. A restaurant pastry chef would have a battery of baking pans to easily bake the three required layers, dividing a basic biscuit dough into thirds and flavoring one part with ground walnuts and one with cocoa. I do not assume that a home cook will have three baking pans, so this recipes bakes them separately one after the other in the same pan. The layers are thin, so they bake and cool quickly, and the other components are quick to prepare. Make the cake at least eight hours ahead so the layers have time to soak.

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Ingredients

Plain Layer

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • cup sugar
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • pinch of salt

Walnut Layer

  • cup cake flour
  • cup finely chopped walnuts
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • cup sugar

Cocoa Layer

  • cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • cup sugar

Rum Syrup

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • One 3-inch strip of orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
  • One 3-inch strip of lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
  • cup golden rum

Pastry Cream

  • 4 cups milk, divided
  • cup cornstarch
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • cup sugar
  • teaspoons vanilla extract

Assembly

Method

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F. Lightly butter the bottom only of a 13 X 9-inch baking pan, and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper.
  2. To make the plain layer: Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer or a stainless-steel medium bowl. Fit into a medium saucepan of simmering water (the water should not touch the bowl) on medium heat. Whisk constantly until the eggs are warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Using the whisk attachment or a handheld electric mixer on high speed, beat until the mixture is tripled in volume, about 3 minutes. Combine the flour and salt. In two additions, sift the flour into the egg mixture, and fold in. Spread evenly in the pan, using an offset metal spatula to fill the corners.
  3. Bake until the center springs back when pressed lightly with a finger, about 12 minutes. Cool for 3 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to release. Cover the pan with a sheet of wax or parchment paper, then with a baking sheet. Invert the cake, and carefully peel off the top paper. (The bottom layer of paper will help transport the cooled cake layer.) Cool the baking pan before making the other layers, then repeat the buttering and lining process.
  4. To make the walnut layer: Process the flour, walnuts, and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until the walnuts are chopped into a fine powder. Following the procedure and baking time for the plain layer, make the walnut layer, substituting the walnut mixture for the cake flour and salt, but fold the walnut mixture into the eggs without sifting (the nuts will not pass through the sieve).
  5. To make the cocoa layer: Sift the flour, cocoa, and salt together. Following the procedure and baking time for the plain layer, make the cocoa layer, substituting the cocoa mixture for the cake flour and salt.
  6. To make the rum syrup: Stir the sugar, water, and the orange and lemon zests in a small saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Boil without stirring until the syrup has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Stir in the rum, and remove the zests.
  7. To make the pastry cream: In a saucepan or a microwave oven, heat 3 cups of the milk until simmering. Pour the remaining 1 cup milk into a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the cold milk and whisk until dissolved. Add the yolks and sugar and whisk until combined. Gradually whisk in the hot milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until the mixture comes to a full boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a medium bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water. Let stand until cooled, stirring occasionally.
  8. To assemble: Mix the raisins and walnuts in a bowl. Bring the preserves to a boil over medium heat, stirring often; keep warm.
  9. Place the walnut layer in a 13 X 9-inch baking or serving dish. Brush with one third of the syrup, spread with the apricot preserves, then spread with one third of the pastry cream. Sprinkle half of the raisin-walnut mixture on top. Top with the cocoa layer, brush with half of the remaining syrup, and spread with half of the remaining pastry cream. Sprinkle with the remaining raisin-walnut mixture. Add the plain layer, brush with the remaining syrup, and spread with the remaining pastry cream. Sift the cocoa over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  10. For each serving, using a 2-inch diameter ice-cream scoop or large dessert spoon, scoop 2 or 3 “dumplings” from the cake and stack in a soup bowl or on a plate. Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a 9/16-inch-wide open-star tip, such as Ateco Number 825. Pipe whipped cream rosettes on top, and drizzle the rum chocolate sauce over all. Serve chilled.

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