These are amazing and delicious! And they are really something special because the Italian Prune Plums that these are made with are only available (in most areas of the United States) in late August and early September. I have a flavor memory that includes these dumplings which I have been craving for years.
I am fortunate to have been blessed with a bonus family when my mother remarried. My bonus family is of Polish and Czech heritage and I have one memory of my Mom, my Aunt and my Gramma working in late summer to fill, form, boil and freeze what seemed like 100 plum dumplings. I only remember it happening once, which my mom says is because after that one time, she and my Aunt decided they never wanted to do it again. It IS a process, but it’s really not that difficult. Perhaps the quantity was daunting? She also said that many of the dumplings broke apart in the boiling process, but I did not have that problem.
In the years that followed, my Gramma took care of the production. She made and froze the dumplings in September to enjoy on Christmas Eve. Our feast included Pierogies of all types with caramelized onions in browned butter and plum dumplings served with browned butter and rolled in graham cracker crumbs with cinnamon and sugar. I wonder how many pounds of butter we consumed during those large dinners! And, of course, there were a million cookies, but that’s another story. Here is my Gramma’s recipe:
Makes 24 dumplings
2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tablespoon melted butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup lukewarm milk
24 Italian Prune Plums (or Apricots)
For serving: 1 stick of browned butter and 1/4 cup of graham crackers crushed with a 1/2 teaspoon each of sugar and cinnamon.
Wash fruit and let dry on kitchen towels.
Mix flour, butter, egg yolks, salt and milk, adding more flour to make a soft dough.
Add more flour as needed so that dough pulls but isn’t sticky.
Cover and let rest for a 1/2 hour.
Roll dough out thinly on a floured board, then cut into 4″ squares and wrap a plum in each to make a ball. Some recipes encourage you to remove the pit, but my Gramma never did. This helps keep the plums intact. You can easily eat around the pit when it’s time, just remember to warn everyone of their existence!
Cook in boiling water for about 10 minutes (longer if plums are large).
Cooked dumplings will float to the top. Use a spider to fish out the dumplings and drain.
You can serve them at this point warm with browned butter and a sprinkling of the graham cracker mix or you can lay them flat on a waxed paper lined sheet pan and freeze them for Christmas Eve. Once they are frozen transfer the dumplings to freezer bags.