Quarkbällchen is a traditional German treat that is similar to a donut, but much tastier. The name translates as “little Quark balls,” with the first word “Quark” (pronounced kvark) referring to a yogurt-like fresh cheese. Each of these golfball-sized Quarkbällchen originates from a batter blended with Quark for extra moisture and milky flavor, is deep fried, and then rolled in sugar, either granulated or powdered. Fluffy, soft, and light, these sweet sugared balls melt in your mouth. They are great hot or at room temperature.
So what exactly is Quark, a cheese unfamiliar to many Americans? Quark is a silky, fresh (unaged) cow’s milk cheese. Usually categorized as a curd or cottage cheese, it has a low fat and salt content, and a texture similar to that of Greek yogurt or sour cream. Quark is often used in baking and serves as a base for many desserts, especially cheesecake.
When I lived in Germany, I just ate it plain with multi-grain crackers. Others treated it much as one would yogurt; topped with granola or mixed with fruit, especially berries. It also adds low fat luxury to mashed potatoes, and when blended with chives, it becomes a flavorsome cream for baked potatoes.
Vermont Creamery, one of the few producers of Quark in the U.S., boasts an entire page of recipes for Quark, including Crème Fraîche Potatoes au Gratin, Lemon Quark Muffins, Curried Apple and Walnut Salad, Cold Quark & Cucumber Soup, and various interesting dips. (Recipes at Vermont Creamery.)
Vermont Creamery’s Quark is Kof-K kosher. Quark Balls are interesting for Chanukah because they combine the oil story with the Judith cheese story, all in one ball!
Although the bakery where the Quark Balls were purchased is not kosher, they can easily be made at home.
Here is a recipe for Quarkbällchen:
For the dough:
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 package vanilla sugar
1 cup Quark (a Vermont Creamery container is 8 oz.)
2 ¼ – 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Oil for deep frying
Powdered or granulated sugar
1. Combine the dough ingredients.
2. Form dough into balls.
3. Heat the oil in a large pot or deep fryer. Fry each Quarkbällchen for 8-10 minutes, turning to make sure all sides brown nicely.
4. Place fried Quarkbällchen on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Allow to cool.
5. Dust the finished Quarkbällchen with powdered sugar, or roll them in granulated sugar.
The Cheese Mistress