This Ukrainian sweet varenyky recipe with summer berries and sour cream makes delicious boiled dumplings filled with farmers cheese and berries served with a sweet sauce of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and red currants, and sour cream. Also eaten in Russia, where they’re called vareniki, and in Poland called pierogi, varenyky are thought to have originated in Ukraine.
Summer may still be a way off but you can make this Ukrainian sweet varenyky recipe with summer berries and sour cream with fresh spring fruits such as cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and mulberries.
You can also use frozen summer berries, which are fantastic for this sweet varenyky recipe as you’re going to stew the summer fruits for a few minutes to create a sweet syrupy fruit sauce to drizzle on the dumplings.
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Sweet Varenyky Recipe for Dumplings with Summer Berries and Sour Cream
For our Sunday family meals and holiday feasts, my grandmother mainly made savoury dumplings – Russian pelmeni filled with ground beef and pork and onion, mashed potato and caramelised onion vareniki that are much loved in both Russia and Ukraine, and the cabbage varenyky of Ukraine.
Come spring and the arrival of cherry season, when baboushka would fill big glass bowls with the freshly washed cherries and leave them on the dining table for us all to help ourselves, baba would make batches of cherry compote, cheesecake that dripped with stewed cherries, and sweet varenyky swimming in a sea of the stewed stone fruit.
As soon as the summer berries came into season – raspberries, mulberries, blueberries, strawberries, whatever she should get her hands on – baboushka would make this sweet varenyky recipe with mixed summer berries, with which she’d both fill the dumplings, along with cream cheese, and drizzle over them, and serve with dollops of sour cream. It was soooo good.
But you don’t need to wait until summer – or even spring if you’re in the southern hemisphere – as frozen summer berries are fantastic for this sweet varenyky recipe. We live in Cambodia where we can’t get any of these berries fresh so we keep a bag of frozen summer berries in the freezer. Just a few more tips to making this sweet varenyky recipe.
Tips to Making this Ukrainian Sweet Varenyky Recipe for Dumplings with Summer Berries and Sour Cream
I only have a few tips to making this sweet varenyky recipe with summer berries and sour cream, as it’s probably the easiest of all the Russian and Ukrainian dumplings to make.
Look for tvorog or farmer’s cheese at your nearest deli that specialises in Russian, Ukrainian or Eastern European products or a farmer’s market. If you can’t find farmer’s cheese, you could try combining two or three fresh white cheeses, such as a firm cream cheese, paneer, Mexican queso blanco, the French cheese Neufchâtel, goat’s cheese, havarti, ricotta, cottage cheese, or quark.
As I mentioned above, if you can get hold of fresh stone fruit or berries, lucky you. But if you can’t, I find the frozen mixed summer berries to be brilliant for this recipe. If you’re making this sweet varenyky recipe for more than four people and you need to stretch the sauce out, then I have a tip: add a tablespoon or two of raspberry jam or your other favourite berry jam.
While Russians and Ukrainians love their sweet varenyky with sour cream or smetana, you could certainly use whipped cream or even creamy Greek yoghurt. Vanilla ice cream would also be delish.
This recipe makes 48 dumplings, which will feed four people if you’re dishing out 12 varenyky to a plate, or six people if you’re serving eight dumplings to a plate. If this dessert is coming at the end of a big family style traditional feast, six dumplings is probably plenty.
The leftover dumplings will re-heat well and can even be fried. See this fried dumplings recipe for tips.
Ukrainian Sweet Varenyky Recipe for Dumplings with Summer Berries and Sour Cream
- 500 g all purpose flour - sifted
- 200 ml water
- 1 tsp salt
- 200 g farmers cheese – or 100 g cream cheese and 100 g Danish white cheese or paneer - ricotta, cottage cheese
- 200 g mixed summer berries – strawberries - mulberries, raspberries, blue berries etc
- 100 ml water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp raspberry jam – optional
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice – optional
- 250 ml Sour Cream
- Make the dough by pouring the flour into a large mixing bowl. Poke a large hole in the centre, add the salt, then gradually pour 100 ml of water into the hole, stir with a fork to combine, then gradually add more water until you have a shaggy consistency. Use your hands to combine and form into a rough ball of dough then transfer to a floured work surface.
- Knead the dough for 5 minutes or so. If it’s too dry, add a little more of the water; if too wet, add a little more flour. Don’t over-knead. Return it back to the bowl, cover with a damp clean cotton tea towel, and set aside to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- While the dough is resting make the varenyky filling: in a small mixing bowl gently combine the farmers cheese with 100 g of the mixed summer berries. Stir enough to ensure the berries are evenly distributed but take care not to mash them in too much as you want some whole berries in there. Refrigerate until needed.
- Make the fruit sauce: to a small fry pan over low heat, transfer 100 g of the mixed summer berries, 100 ml of water and 2 teaspoons of white sugar, mash a quarter of the berries a little – or add a tablespoon of berry jam if you prefer to keep the berries whole – stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Taste. If too sweet, add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. When the sauce thickens, turn off the heat and set aside.
- Put a big stock pot of water onto the stove to boil and throw in a pinch of salt.
- To make the varenyky casings, sprinkle a little flour onto your work surface, split the dough into quarters, and keep the dough you’re not using in the bowl under a damp clean cotton tea towel.
- Use a rolling pin to roll the ball of dough out into a large oval shape around 2mm thick. Don’t turn it over; the exterior can be dusted in flour, not the interior. Use a 7cm diameter cookie-cutter (or rim of a glass) to create the dumpling rounds. Begin at the top edge and work your way around and into the centre, leaving no space between rounds. (If using a glass, twist the rim back and forth a few times to cut through the dough.) Once you’re done, pull the dough scraps away, roll them into a ball and pop under the cloth with the other dough.
- To create the varenyky, hold a round of dough flat in the palm of one hand and use a teaspoon to scoop out 5-6 g of the farmers cheese and berry mixture. Place it at the centre of the casing, fold one half over, and starting at one end, pinch the edges together, working your way to the other end until firmly sealed. If it doesn’t seal easily, rub a little water along the interior edge then press the rims together with your fingertips. Lay the half-moon shaped dumpling on a tray lightly dusted with flour.
- Repeat until you’ve finished filling the casings. You should end up with a dozen dumplings. Set those aside and repeat the 2 steps above until you’ve made dumplings from the remaining balls of dough. When you’re finished, you should have 48-50 dumplings.
- To boil the dumplings: if needed, turn the heat down a little to a gentle boil (so as not to tear the casings apart), then either carefully slide the dumplings into the water or drop the dumpling in individually, then turn up the heat a little to maintain the boil.
- When the dumplings rise to the surface, give them 2-3 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to scoop them out and transfer them to a casserole dish with a generous chunk of quality butter. When they’re all in, gently shake the casserole dish from side to side to ensure the varenyky are covered in butter. Repeat until you’ve boiled all the dumplings.
- To plate the varenyky, scoop out some sweet fruit sauce (not the berries) and drizzle onto each plate; distribute the varenyky between the plates, scoop out the berries and scatter evenly across the dumplings and drizzle the rest of the sauce on top, then plop a generous dollop of sour cream onto each plate and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make my Ukrainian sweet varenyky recipe with summer berries and sour cream, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.