Once a year my normally diet-conscious family gathers on Shavuot, the harvest holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah, for a calorie-defying blintz debauch. This version of those cheese-filled crêpes is from my mother’s friend Sheila, whose blintzes are the world’s best. My contributions are a technique for finishing the blintzes in the oven, which makes serving them for a gathering easy (see the Tip), and a filling variation featuring strawberries or blueberries. Passed with a variety of accompaniments, these are heavenly.
1 pound unsalted farmer’s cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (optional)
1 cup wheat germ (optional)
1 recipe crêpes
1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil, plus more, if needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more, if needed
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
Sour cream, maple syrup and/or fresh fruit, such as berries or sliced peaches, for serving
1. Place a colander in a sink. Place the farmer’s cheese in the colander and let drain for 15 minutes. Double a large sheet of paper towels, turn the cheese onto it, enclose it in the towels, and press it to extract more liquid.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the farmer’s cheese, cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla, and zest and wheat germ, if using. Beat until the mixture is fairly smooth.
3. Place a crêpe, darker side up, on a work surface. Place 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center. To form the blintz, fold the nearest side over to cover the filling, fold the sides toward the center, then fold again to “close” the blintz. Transfer to a dish, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining crêpes and filling.
4. In a medium skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium until the butter stops foaming. Working in batches, and adding more oil and butter if needed, fry the blintzes seam side down until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn and repeat on the second side. Transfer the blintzes to paper towels as they’re cooked. (You can keep them warm in the oven, if necessary.)
5. Transfer the blintzes to serving plates. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using, and serve with the accompaniment(s) of choice.
To make these for a crowd, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and brush with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Place the formed blintzes on it seam side down, and brush the tops with 2 more tablespoons of melted butter. Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven until golden, about 10 minutes.
For strawberry or blueberry blintzes, make the filling without the sugar.
In a glass measuring cup, melt 1/2 cup strawberry or blueberry jam in the microwave for 30 seconds. Alternatively, melt it in a small saucepan over low heat. Let the jam cool before mixing into the filling. For a sweeter filling, add sugar by teaspoons to taste. Form the blintzes and proceed as above.