Growing up in the middle of Alabama did not encourage too much cross-cultural eating. On the weekends, my mother served country ham biscuits, breakfast casserole, and cheesy stone-ground grits (sometimes all at the same time!). Back then I'd never heard of migas or scrapple, congee or crêpes. I'd certainly never heard of a blintz, and boy was this Southern girl missing out!
The blintz (which is only one name for it) originated in central Europe -- around Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia -- however, countless renditions of stuffed and folded "pancakes" have been eaten around the world for centuries. And after you taste them, it's easy to see why. What's not to like: a paper thin blanket of flour and eggs wrapped around a silky vanilla-ricotta filling, which are then baked or fried, and finally dusted with powdered sugar and a drizzle of fresh fruit syrup.
Of course there are countless different fillings that can be used, from sweet to savory and everything in between. I've seen blintz recipes containing cottage cheese, farmer's cheese, mascarpone, cream cheese, and creme fraiche. You can top them with lingonberry jam, mixed berry compote, or nothing at all. Of course, I've taken some liberties with this version that I think you'll enjoy. (I know I did.) Tender "crepes," vanilla bean-spiked ricotta, and a fresh cherry glaze just might make it worth getting out of bed on the weekends.
If you grew up eating blintzes, I'd love to know how yours were made. Do share!
Ricotta Blintzes with Fresh Cherry Sauce
For the crêpes:
4 large eggs
1 cup (4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup whole or 2% milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
For the filling:
1 (15 ounce) container low-fat or whole milk ricotta
1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 heaping tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
Pinch of kosher salt
For the sauce:
1 pound (16 ounces) stemmed, pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Pinch of kosher salt
Confectioners' sugar, to serve
To make the crêpes, combine the eggs, flour, milk, sugar, baking powder, vanilla, and salt in a blender and process until the batter is smooth and slightly foamy, 10-15 seconds. Set aside for 30 minutes to an hour, or refrigerate overnight. Strain the batter through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl and whisk in the melted butter.
Lightly coat a medium (8- to 10-inch) nonstick skillet or crêpe pan with unsalted butter and set over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, pour 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet. Swirl the pan to evenly coat the bottom and sides, continuing to rotate until the batter is no longer runny. Set the pan back on the stovetop and cook until the bottom of the crêpe is light golden brown, about one minute. Using a silicone spatula, flip the crêpe and continue to cook until done, about 15-30 seconds more. Continue with the remaining batter. (Makes 8 crêpes.)
For the filling, pre-heat oven to 350°F. Combine the ricotta, cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (or using an electric hand mixer) and cream until well combined.
Spread 2-3 tablespoons of filling down the center of a crêpe. Fold in two opposite ends, then fold in edges to make a neat package. Place seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and continue filling remaining crêpes. Bake blintzes until filling is hot, about 20 minutes. (The blintzes can also be sautéed in butter or deep-fried in oil.)
For the sauce, combine the cherries, water, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for another 5-8 minutes until desired thickness is reached. Pour sauce over crêpes and top each with a generous amount of confectioners' sugar.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)