Forgotten Russian dessert: ‘Varenets’ with lingonberry (RECIPE)

Famous writer Leo Tolstoy himself loved to eat varenets.

Famous writer Leo Tolstoy himself loved to eat varenets.

Restaurant Uhvat
This Russian milk dish was adjacent to cakes and other exquisite sweets at 19th-century imperial receptions.

Two hundred years ago, varenets was a treat for special guests. It was even served at imperial receptions, although all that was needed to make it was an oven and dairy products.

In 1822, Maria Feodorovna, widow of Russian Emperor Paul I, gave a reception for officers at the Pavlovsky Palace (located in the suburbs of St. Petersburg). “Tables were laid out in the gallery,” wrote a contemporary, “stacked with many dishes with all kinds of cookies, ‘baba’, cakes, varenets, cakes, oranges, candies and other sweets.”

According to an 1834 dictionary, varenets is “milk baked over with foam and then fermented with sour cream”.

In the cookbook ‘Lunch for Leo’ by Sophia Tolstaya, Leo Tolstoy’s wife, there are recipes for plain and fermented varenets.

“When the varenets has cooled down to the warmth of fresh milk,” Sophia Tolstaya describes fermented varenets, “take, depending on the quantity of varenets, one or two spoons of fresh sour cream, put it into the varenets and, having stirred it, put it in a warm place for several hours, and, when the varenets sits, take it to the cellar and put it on ice.”

The low simmering temperature gives the varenets a creamy color and delicate texture. We share a recipe from Victor Beley, chef of the restaurant ‘Uhvat’ in Moscow. In his serving, the cream with apple puree and lingonberries give the dish an additional sourness.

Ingredients for 4 servings:


  • Baked milk - 2 l
  • Sour cream - 300 g
  • Sugar - 200 g

Apple cream:

  • Apples - 1 kg
  • 33% cream - 200 ml
  • Water - 100 ml
  • Honey - 100 g

Soaked lingonberries:

  • Sugar - 100 g
  • Frozen lingonberries - 200 g
  • Red wine - 200 ml 


1. Add sour cream to 1 liter of milk and sugar to the second liter of milk. Place them in an oven or stove for 12 hours at a temperature of 100-120°C. After that, sieve the milk for 3 to 4 hours to remove excess moisture. Beat each type of milk into a homogeneous mass in a separate container.

2. Apple puree: Peel green apples, mix with water and honey, and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 160°C. Crush the apples into mash with a fork and cool to room temperature.

3. Soaked lingonberries: Melt the sugar in a pan, add red wine, stir until the sugar has dissolved, then add lingonberries.

4. Whip the cream and stir in the apple puree. To serve it in a restaurant, the chef passes the resulting mass through a siphon in liquid nitrogen to obtain a sphere. At home, you can carefully combine the cream with apple puree with a wooden or silicone spatula and then put it in the center of the plate (2 tablespoons), around - varenets (2-3 tablespoons) and sprinkle with dried lingonberries to taste.

READ MORE: Russian Empress Catherine the Great enjoyed this round pie (RECIPE)

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