Monday, November 26, 2012

The quark

The quark and the famous Hungarian quark-dessert “Túró Rudi”:

Is it harder in Finland to make a cookie containing quark?

A bejegyzés magyarul itt olvasható.

One of the most important commodities of Hungarian cuisine is quark or cottage cheese, which is used more often by Hungarians, then other nationalities. It occurs in buns or in yeast cakes, which are eaten for breakfast (like yeast bag filled with quark and “bird’s eye”), but we can find it in salted dessert (like quark-scones) or in main dishes, too.

What is THE quark? It is a special milk product, which was made first in the old Hungarian country-folk times. In that time women let the milk fix in the hot kitchen (the first product was the curds and whey), than it was heated on the cooking-range. This heating induces the coagulation of quark, which separated from the whey. Originally this process takes longer time (approx 1 week), so this practice nowadays is different and faster in the milk factories. Today the lactic acid strains are added to the milk, which make the fixing in the previously pasteurized milk. The point is that quark is the prime of the milk, because half kg quark was made from 3 liter milk. It contains low fat and high value mineral salts, so if someone would like to live healthy (or if you are on diet), you can eat it!

The story of Hungarian “Pöttyös Túró Rudi” (Dots) started in 1954, when 3 dairy specialists visited USSR (Soviet Union) and they found there the forebear of our quark dessert. The manufacturing of Dots began in Elisabeth-town of Budapest at 1968.  The success of Dots is undimished, all Hungarian adults and children love it! We have a box, filled with Dots, here in Finland in the fridge, because no Hungarian can live without Dots!

Production of Dots in the 1960's.

But what is THIS Dots? Virtually no other, than a quark rot spiced with vanilla, sugar, lemon and super secret ingredients, which is covered with dark chocolate. The Dots has many versions, it can be covered with milk chocolate or it can be filled with strawberry and peach jam, too. Why do I write this information to you? I do it, because this dessert is well-known in Hungary, but nobody knows it outside our country. You can’t find this kind of dessert in the States, or in the UK. There is a similar dessert in Estonia, which I tasted, because my Estonian neighbor. We can find similar dessert in Austria, and in Japan.

Hungarian Dots in Finland: they're sleeping in our refridgerator 

There is difference not just in the presence or absence of quark desserts in European (and world’s) countries, but also in the quality of quark and commodities. The Finnish quark is totally different from its Hungarian relative. While the Hungarian milk product has strong aroma, bigger coagulated milk pieces and it’s hardly lubricated than the Finnish quark is creamy and soft, it has mild aroma and easily lubricated. Additionally, you can buy here cream-quark, which is super-creamy and extra mild and it looks like cream cheeses. Cream-quark is not so common in Hungary; we usually make it at home using mashed quark and sour cream. It can be bought as a sweet milk product dessert, which is really delicious!! Based on these information, it is easy to understand, that it is impossible (or hard) to make a real traditional Hungarian “túrós tészta” (quark noodle dish)  here, because quark has different qualities and there is no Hungarian smokedbacon, too.

Furthermore, the quark desserts are not so common and well-known here, but my cheese cake spiced with quark had a huge success among Finnish people. So the task would be OK, but somehow they don’t use it. The most popular cakes and desserts are the cheese cakes here in many different versions. (I promise, you can read here a post about these cakes.)

The Finnish quark: mild and soft.
Aaaaaand what a HUNGARIAN can do in this situation? The quark is liquid and quark desserts are not so popular…. Shall I be despaired??? NEVER!!! There is no impossible thing, there are only powerless people - my father said it many times in my childhood -, so we have to figure out something, new ideas or whatever!

If the quark is too fluid, we can use a little starch (250 g quark needs 1-2 tablespoons starch) or we can use same quantity semolina. If we would like to make cream, which can be used to fill cakes and sponges, it is better to use gelatin (200 g quark needs 10g). In case of whipped cream mixed with quark, we can use gelatin or “whipped cream fixing powder”. It is a Hungarian specialty, also missing in Finland. This powder is based on starch, so this commodity can be used instead of this powder. The most commonly used thing here for fixing whipped cream is the vanilla cream powder (vaniljakreemijauhe), which can be used in the same way.

Here is more additional information about this vanilla cream powder: the most important thing is that it is really delicious! This product is commonly used here fixing whipped cream, but my opinion is, that the fixing power is very low of this powder. The whipped cream, which is made with this special cream powder, will be very soft and creamy and it will be delicious, because of this vanilla aroma. If we would like to make icing cream based on whipped cream and we use this vanilla cream powder, than we don’t need to add more additional sugar to the cream. 3 dl cream needs 1-3 tablespoons of powder, and our cream will be perfect. The truth is that we can’t use this whipped cream for cake decoration, because it will be soft and creamy, but this cream is perfect to fill or cover a cake. You can read more about the vanilla cream powder in Finnish language here.

Vanilla powder.

Since I have already written a few words about fixing a whipped cream, I would like to share another method with you. Recently I learned the method using white chocolate. You should put 100 g of white chocolate to a huge bowl then top it with 60-80°C cream. The chocolate will melt in the cream, than it has to be cooled to 5-8°C in a fridge for a night. The whipped cream, which will be stabile, can be used for cake decoration, and it doesn’t contain any unhealthy ingredients, just chocolate. I found this method on the blog of Vilmos Farkas, who is a famous Hungarian confectioner working in Zila Coffehouse, Budapest. It is worth looking his page you can learn lots of good recipes and secrets!  

In summary, if your cream is too soft, or you have problems with whipped cream, there is always a solution for this kind of problem! You have to go to the shop and check the selves at the cooking section, you can find there everything! You must NOT forget: gelatin, cream powder, fixing powder or simply starch can help us to solve our problems! You never have to be desperate, because there is a solution for everything! J

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