The classic, old-country version of sweet cheese blintzes uses farmer's cheese and sour cream for the filling. Traditionally eaten on the holiday of Shavuot, which features dairy foods, these blintzes are wonderful with fresh berries or jam.
Stuffed with the famer's cheese, a humble, crumbly cheese of the people, fried in butter, blintzes are rightly stars of the Shavuot table, when it's traditional to eat dairy foods. Also known as, to those of us who would mostly rather be vegetarians, the best holiday meal of the year. Full disclosure: at our house, blintzes are a year-around food group. However, break out the farmer's cheese and it becomes a party. Read on for more on farmer's cheese.
Key ingredient: farmer's cheese
Farmer's cheese is a simple, plain, crumbly cheese, with a texture between goat cheese and feta but a flavor more like cottage cheese. It can usually be found lurking in one of the refrigerators at chain supermarkets (usually Friendship brand), and always at kosher or Eastern European markets, like Russian or Polish. It tends to be on the pricier side, maybe because it's a quasi-specialty item. It's also absolutely easy (and cheaper) to make yourself from regular supermarket milk. I have a walk-through post about making farmer's cheese here.
There is usually another kind of creamy white cheese added to the filling; cream cheese seems to be popular and you could use softened cream cheese here, but I went with sour cream because there was no cream cheese back in the shtetl, you know?
Making batter for blintzes
Because they're folksy and not even a smidge haute, unlike their snooty cousins the crêpes, blintzes don't need to rest in the fridge, be perfectly smooth, or any other hand-holding. Just blitz the batter away in a food processor, or whisk it by hand (a few lumps never killed anybody). Then throw it around a hot pan. You don't need a special pan, any large nonstick skillet will do.
For these special Shavuot blintzes, we'll be making an eggier, milkier, generally more luxurious and thinner blintz. (For most of my blintzes, I use my base recipe, found here in my post about Israeli-style sweet cheese blintzes, which are similar to these but with their own charm.)
To cook blintzes, you need a lightweight pan, so a cast iron wouldn't work here. In order to swirl the batter around the pan to form the blintz, you need to be able to pick up the pan quickly with one hand. I like to use a large nonstick skillet, ungreased. Adding oil or butter doesn't allow the blintz to stick at the rims and cook in a thin enough layer.
To form the blintz, you pour about ¼ cup of batter onto the center of the hot pan, about medium heat, and swirl it around. The edges will be thinner than the rest of the blintz and cook almost immediately. The flicking of the pan maneuver is easier to do than to explain; you can see a short video of me making a blintz here. For filled blintzes like the ones we're making here, you want to cook them until the bottom is browned and the top is set (just barely tacky to the touch). Use a flexible turner to gently peel the blintz off the pan—it should oblige you after a good nudge—and pile them up, cooked side up, on a plate, where they'll await filling.
Filling cheese blintzes
Once you've got all the blintzes made and cooled enough to work with, dollop 2-3 tablespoons of sweet cheese filling just below the midline of the blintz. Fold the top up, then the sides in. Finally, roll, tucking firmly. The outside should be just tacky enough to adhere easily to itself.
If you've been following my robust program of blintz research, you may recall that for filled blintzes, I preferred to cook them on one side (no flipping) and then place the filling on the uncooked side (i.e., the side of the blintz that was not in contact with the pan). Well, further data sets yielded the conclusion that I also like the other way: filling the cooked side (the side that was in contact with the hot pan), then frying the uncooked side. I especially like that method when making traditional sweet cheese blintzes, because they get extra crispy. So that's what we'll be doing here.
The denouement of a traditional blintz is to get fried up in plenty of butter (or oil, but obviously, since we're in dairy territory, butter is better). Use the same skillet you used to cook the blintz wrappers, heat it up over a medium flame, and place your little packets of Ashkenazi delight in the pan for a final waltz. Just a minute or so on each side will make them crispy and warm the filling through.
Traditional Sweet Cheese Filled Blintzes (dairy)
- Food processor or blender
- Large non-stick or carbon steel skillet
For the blintz wrappers:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar - 25 g
- 1 Tbs butter, melted, or oil - 15 ml
- 1 tsp vanilla - or 1 packet vanilla sugar, optional
- pinch salt
- 1 cup milk
For the filling:
- 1 package farmer's cheese - about 8 oz / 225 g
- 2 Tbsp sour cream - or softened cream cheese
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar - 25 g
- 1 egg yolk - 100g
- zest of 1 lemon
Prepare the filling:
- In a small mixing bowl, crumble the farmer's cheese. Add in the sour cream, sugar, egg yolk, and lemon zest. Stir well to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill.
Make the batter:
- To a food processor or blender, add the flour, eggs, sugar, butter/oil, and vanilla. Pulse to combine into a thick, smooth batter. Add the milk and process until thin and well combined.
Cook the blintz wrappers:
- Place a large, ungreased, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour or ladle about ¼ cup of the batter into the pan. Lift and tilt the pan in a circular motion to evenly coat the bottom with a thin layer of batter.
- Cook until the edges are dry and the top is just set, with a few bubbles. (Do not flip.) Carefully remove from the pan using a flexible spatula and set aside to cool. Repeat with remaining batter until all the leaves have been formed.
Filling and finishing the blintzes:
- When the blintzes have cooled slightly, working on at a time, scoop about 2 Tbsp of filling onto the cooked side of the blintz (the one that was in contact with the frying pan). You'll want to place the filling just below the midline of the round blintz leaf. Fold the bottom of the blintz up over the filling, then fold in the sides, like making an envelope. Tucking firmly as you roll, roll up the blintzes and set aside, seam-side down.
- Heat a small amount of butter or oil in the same frying pan. Return the filled blintzes to the hot pan and fry on both sides until crisp, about 1-2 minutes per side. Allow to cool slightly before serving with honey, jam, or fresh fruit.