Russian Season


Russian, Eastern European and international cuisine brought to you by a mother and a daughter

Sour Cherry Vareniki

Sour Cherry Vareniki

We’ve been running this blog for a year and a half and still haven’t posted anything on such a staple of Eastern European cuisine as Vareniki. Strange, isn’t it? One of the reasons for this might be that Vareniki are pretty laborious to make (to my mind, that is). I guess both me and my Mom are bad at repeating the same thing for 50-60 times. The success of our favourite dishes relies on generous quantities of soul-warming ingredients like eggs, whipping cream, or butter (alternatively, mushrooms, cheese… butter again) , and on the simplicity at which these components can be merged into something yummy. Rolling out several batches of dough, cutting it into uniform shapes, filling and sealing each item? That’s something we are  incapable of doing more often than once in a month. Preferably two months.

But on the other hand, who doesn’t like Vareniki? Slippery from melted butter, dipped into thick sour cream, hot filling oozing out of the centre… unhealthy? Come on, they’re not fried at least! (although that can be done too).

There’re various ways of making dough for Vareniki, I would like to try the one with Kefir next time. This time we used a variation which I think is pretty classic. And of course I chose sour cherries as a filling - my favourite! I added a pinch of ground nutmeg, just because I love it with cherries. And a pinch of cinnamon to jazz them up even more. Everything else is very simple. Flour, warm water, milk, an egg. A dash of vegetable oil to make the dough more plastic. Half a teaspoon salt to pull out the flavour of the dough. Sugar to sweeten the sour cherries.  And of course some patience. Here we go!

Sour Cherry Vareniki

- Dough:
3 cups AP flour
1/3 cup lukewarm milk
1/3 cup warm water
1 egg
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Filling:
2 cups thawed frozen sour cherries (firmly packed)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
+ 1 tsp salt for boiling
+ more flour for rolling and sealing


Makes about 60 Vareniki


Sift flour into a large bowl and make a depression in the middle. Crack the egg into the deepening, and pour milk and water. Sprinkle with salt and knead the dough until it can be formed into a smooth ball. Adjust flour if necessary.
Place the dough into the bowl and cover with a damp cloth or with a plastic wrap. Leave the dough to rest for 40 minutes.

Gently squeeze out the cherries to get rid of excess liquid (otherwise the Vareniki will be soggy or the filling will leak out). Mix cherries with sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Divide dough in two parts. On a floured surface, roll each part as thin as possible without the dough tearing. Using a glass with sharp edges, cut uniform circles (ours were about 7cm in diameter). Collect remaining dough, roll it out again and cut out more circles. Repeat with remaining dough if possible.

Dough for vareniki

Fill each Varenik with sour cherries (3 cherries per each on average). Double-seal each Varenik.

Sealing Vareniki

In a large saucepan, bring to a boil approximately 1 1/2 liters water. Add 1 tsp salt.

Divide the Vareniki into 4 batches (to prevent sticking together). Drop each batch into the boiling water one by one.

Carefully stir with a wooden spoon so that they don’t stick to the bottom. Cook in boiling water for 3 minutes. Ready Vareniki will float to the surface.

Repeat with remaining Vareniki. Add more water if necessary.

Serve with butter and sour cream.

Sour Cherry Vareniki With Sour Cream

Sour Cherry Vareniki

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Category: Ukrainian



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52 Responses

    • Alina says:

      Thank you Miriam!

      • Yasr says:

        October 28, 2012 ****I would never recommend this rsanaurett to anyone.**** Waitresses never smile. They had impressions at their faces like they cannot stand visitors, and they hate this job. My family went there for a dinner (one man, 3 women (one of them grandmother), 9 years old child, and 3 teenagers age 14-17.) We made an order. While we were sitting and enjoying our family conversations, nearby us was a table of drunk young people 3 men and their girlfriends. One of the young man’s chair was attached to my son’s chair. That man was so drunk that his head time by time failed on my son’s shoulder. I nicely ask young lady who seemed to me was the most responsible at that moment if that young man was okay, if he needs any help. He didn’t look ok at all. She meanly answered:” Yes!!! , and after moment without any reason started insulting my mother who was sitting by her and call her abusive names. My mother is an elementary school teacher. She hasn’t heard anything like that before. I tried to ask a waiter for a help or a manager. He was just staying there and watching. My mom started crying. The sleeping-drunk man waked up and with his friends started to attack my family. I started to dial police phone#. It took a while for the manager to show-up. I asked my family to leave this rsanaurett immediately. Instead of helping us and resolve a conflict the manager asked the security guy to keep us in the rsanaurett till we pay in full for the food and drinks which we haven’t even been served. Police wasn’t been helpful because they asked me for my phone # and I just bought the phone and didn’t remember it. I tolled on the phone where we were located at; however, the police was not interested in the address of incidence. Only after I paid in full for the food which we haven’t even seen, the security guy, the waiter, and the manager who is also was an owner of the rsanaurett let us go. It was the worst, worst Ukrainian experience I have ever had. It is still in my mind after so many months.

      • Real brain power on display. Thanks for that answer!

  1. Interesting, is this considered a sweet or savoury? The vereniki I am familiar with has mashed potatoes (Russian version?)

    • Alina says:

      Three-Cookies, Vareniki can be both sweet or savoury, with mashed potatoes, meat, mushrooms, cottage cheese, fruit or berries etc inside.

  2. Mary says:

    These look incredibly good. I love sour cherry fillings and know I would love these. You have such a beautiful blog. It is always a pleasure to visit. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

    P.S. The butterscotch molten lava cakes are delicious. I suspect you’d really enjoy them. Be sure to visit Cookie Madness to see the original peanut butter version. Anna is incredible.

    • Alina says:

      Oh thank you Mary! I’d love someone to make those molten lava cakes for me :D because I just don’t have the energy to bake them myself at the moment :D

  3. Amanda says:

    Every culture has its own version of dumplings, isn’t that so true? I must try your varenikis… someday in the future, when I have the time and patience. Like you, I can not stand these lengthy projects. When I make Chinese dumplings with my grandmother, I give up after the 5th or 6th one. Too much labor, but the results are worth it though!

    • Alina says:

      Oh I can only imagine how time-consuming Chinese dumplings must be - I’ve never tried making them at home, but in restaurants they’re always so neat and the dough is so super-thin and translucent. Yes, dumplings are a very cross-cultural food! I should also post a recipe for Pelmeni - they are derived from Chinese dumplings!

  4. Carmel says:

    I make dumplings of all sorts quite often. I got a Hunky Bill’s perogie maker to make my life easier, but you could also get a ravioli cutter. Basically it’s a round frame on which you lay your rolled dough. Drop fillings into the depressions and cover with another layer of rolled dough. then roll the top and voila! they all pop out the bottom! a big hint is to make sure the bottom layer and the frame are dusted with flour to prevent sticking…
    makes it all heaps easier cos you can do about a dozen at a time - i have two frames so you can imagine how quick it is!!

  5. Carmel says:

    and sorry i forgot to mention, the maker is use is the round one and it makes two dozen at a time - i have two of them and often make four to five frames of perogies a session. we freeze the extras and then just boil them frozen and fry to cook them later!

    • Alina says:

      Thank you so much for the hint Carmel! I have seen pierogi makers but somehow I’ve never thought of buying one… why?! :D I should really get one. I love all sorts of filled dumplings, and yes, once you make and freeze a few dozens you can save so much time! Thank you once again, you really opened my eyes :)

  6. I love your posts and your photography is awesome! I also have a Russian/Ukrainian food blog. I have a recipe posted similar to this except it’s sweet bing cherries instead of sour cherries. I want some now!! I freeze cherries and they work pretty well in winter :). I’d like to add you to my blogroll since we write about similar items. Would you be interested in doing a link exchange?

    • Alina says:

      Yaaay Natasha nice to meet you :) Sure I’d love to exchange links, I’ll add your blog to my “Friends” list soon! You have a beautiful blog and a beautiful family! I’m going to read your recipes carefully tonight :) I should really learn to cook more Ukrainian dishes by the way.

  7. Aubrey says:

    Oh my goodness, these looks ridiculously delicious. I want to eat them all!

  8. oh, these look so plump!

    the reason i’ve never attempted vareniki is because…i can’t bloody source sour cherries! ok, perhaps, I haven’t tried hard enough, but honestly - zilch in London supermarkets.

    • Alina says:

      Really?.. do you have sweet cherries then?.. that’s pretty weird! but you do have fresh sour cherries in summer, do you?
      I haven’t done a lot of grocery shopping in London, but one thing I miss a lot is rose-scented tea. I have never bought such perfect tea anywhere else. It was so mildly scented and not too dark, just the way I love! Ahh…

  9. yeah, you can buy cherries in London, but very sweet and gigantic. Im sure I could find dehydrated sour cherries in Italian delis, just need to look harder…

    as for rose-scented tea - do you remember where you bought it in London? maybe we could do an exchange project - you send me sour cherries and I mail you some tea??:)

    • Alina says:

      :-( no I can’t remember the brand… just remember it was a pretty large (maybe 100g?) paper pack with a pink ribbon printed on it… I think the package was beige or yellowish or something like that… or maybe not :-/ somewhere in Oxford Street I bought it… haha I’m not sure I could mail you sour cherries, they would leak! Any other requests? :)

  10. I love the name. In the states, cottage cheese is savory and is tiny curds of cheese. I have not heard of anyting similar, but they look very cool! :)

    • Alina says:

      Hi Jenny! Hmm and what about farmer’s cheese then? Is it savoury too? Yeah aren’t filled dumplings always cool? I should get myself that pierogi maker and start making Vareniki more often :)

  11. all my requests are rather leaky I’m afraid:) oh well, next time I’m in Riga

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