Cheese Blintzes

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With every season change, I go through recipes that I have saved since I was very young. It started when I would cut up recipes from McCall’s magazine and glue them on large index cards for my mother. Then I started doing it for myself.
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As I just turned 60 years old, you can only guess at how old many of these recipes are!

Recently I came across this old McCall’s recipe for blintzes. It gave me the idea to make blintzes for when I have overnight company soon.
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Blintzes can be made the day before and re-heated gently the next morning. Plus, the little blintz packages are so pretty – much prettier than some breakfast casserole.

You need three parts to make blintzes. You need the crêpes, filling and sauce.

Cheese Blintzes with Strawberry Coulis

Sauce:
12 ounces fresh strawberries
1/3 cup sugar or to taste
2 tablespoons orange liqueur or orange juice

Filling:
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
Few drops of orange oil or 1 teaspoon orange zest, optional
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Melted butter, optional
Cinnamon sugar, optional

Crêpes; make a quadruple recipe.

To make the sauce, place the three ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 30 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then blend with an immersion blender. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away.
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To make the filling, place the cottage cheese in a food processor jar and process until smooth.

Scrape down the sides, then add the remaining ingredients and process until all combined.

Taste the filling. Personally, I prefer the sauce sweeter than the filling; you don’t want a sweet filling and a sweet sauce because this is not dessert. Also, the cinnamon should be fairly strong because it pairs so nicely with the fruit. If you can’t taste it, add some more. There are different grades and potencies of cinnamon.

Cover and refrigerate the filling if you’re not using it right away.

When you are ready to prepare the blintzes, have the crêpes at your work station either just cooked and still slightly warm, or at room temperature, if you made them the day before. If they are too chilled they will break instead of fold. Also have the filling on your work station.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter two baking pans to hold the blintzes in one layer.

Place about one heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of a crêpe.

First fold over the front of the crêpe over the filling, then the left and right sides over the filling, then roll the whole thing over the remaining flap.

Gently pick up the blintz and place in the pan with the folded sides down. Continue with the remaining crêpes and filling.
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If you like, brush the tops of the crêpes with melted butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or just until golden. They will be puffy, but unfortunately they will unpuff within minutes. That’s ok – they’re still really good.
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Serve with the warm or room temperature strawberry coulis.

If you like, serve with a few fresh berries.

note: Some blintzes are sautéed in butter in a pan instead of baked. Those are also fabulous!
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Strawberry Vanilla Neufchâtel

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A while back I posted on making your own Chocolate Neufchâtel – a chocolate cream cheese spread. My initial reason for making the chocolate version from scratch many years ago was because the chocolate neufchatel I purchased once was terribly expensive.
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I haven’t seen it around anymore, although I spotted a variety on IGourmet.com this morning. It’s made by Westfield Farm, and it’s purely a chocolate-flavored goat cheese. Pure bliss!
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In any case, chocolate neufchâtel is wonderful to serve for something slightly sweet on a table of hors d’oeuvres, as is this strawberry version. I use the name neufchâtel only because it sounds nicer than cream cheese. They’re both firm and creamy, although American cream cheese also contains cream; the taste difference is negligible.


I had a little leftover jam from when I used my new jam and jelly maker last week, and decided to use it to make the strawberry cream cheese. I could have also added some goat cheese for a little zing, like I did with my chocolate version, but today’s will be only cream cheese.
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Besides being delicious, strawberry cream cheese/neufchâtel is very pretty, especially in the spring and summer for parties and showers. You can make a very similar strawberry cream cheese with sweetened fresh strawberries, but today I’m simply using the jam I made, a strawberry vanilla jam. It’s so simple.
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Strawberry Vanilla Neufchâtel

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup strawberry jam

Place the cream cheese and butter in a medium-sized bowl and add the jam.

Blend the ingredients together until they’re smooth.

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Today I’m going to make the cream cheese into a log form, so I let the mixture chill for about 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Place a piece of plastic wrap on a counter, and plop the strawberry cream cheese onto the plastic. Working carefully, with your fingers underneath the plastic wrap, carefully form the cream cheese into a log shape, wrapping it in the plastic at the same time. If it’s not working properly, you probably need to chill the cheese more.


When ready to serve, unwrap the cheese and place on a serving platter. The plastic should come off easily; the butter helps with that step.

Let the log warm to room temperature before actually serving. Serve with water crackers or crisps or bread.
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As you can see, it’s very spreadable.


You could sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top, toasted walnuts, candied pecans, or pearl sugar. Or, if you wish, you could also add a little more of the jam on top.

But I really like it as is, with just the slight sweetness of the strawberries!

note: Taste the cream cheese when you’re making it, because the flavor of the resulting spread, no matter what shape you form it in, will taste the same. If you want more sweetness, add some sieved powdered sugar. Don’t go crazy with adding the jam; in fact, I wouldn’t use any more of the jam to cream cheese and butter ratio than I did. Otherwise you run the risk of the cream cheese not firming up. Jam doesn’t firm up – cream cheese and butter do!

Chocolate Cashew Truffle Balls

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There is really no great name for these little treats, because they’re a cross between truffles and rum balls. So I call them truffle balls. I love to make up recipes for these bite-sized treats because just about everything works. Real chocolate truffles aren’t difficult to make, but they’re more delicate in nature. These “balls” are sturdier, with a cookie crumb base, mixed with chocolate and spices and sometimes rum or other liqueurs.

I posted on one such rum ball, namely ginger spice truffles, made with a base of gingersnap cookies, spiced with cinnamon and ginger. I created that recipe for a holiday charity event many years ago, because the ingredients are inexpensive, but the individual truffle balls are great for serving hundreds of people. But it’s really easy to only make a couple of dozen truffle balls, too.

For a dinner party, something like truffle balls are a generous treat with espresso or sherry, without being an overbearing dessert like a huge slice of cake that one feels obligated to eat.

At the bottom of this post is a guideline for creating your own truffle ball recipe. For now, here’s my most recent creation that I made for my cashew-loving husband.

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Chocolate Cashew Truffle Balls
makes about 2 dozen

8 ounces chocolate, I used semi-sweet
4 ounces or 1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup or 6 ounces cashew butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces, or approximately 6 graham cracker squares
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa
2 heaping tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

In the top of a double boiler, place the broken up chocolate, butter, cashew butter, and vanilla extract. Slowly, over medium heat, let the water heat up and allow the chocolate and butter to begin melting. At a certain point, if you’re worried that the water is close to a boil, reduce the heat. The melting will continue.
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Using a spatula, stir occasionally. Remember, you’re not trying to cook these ingredients, simply melt them.
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At the point the ingredients have blended smoothly together, remove the pan from atop the pot and set aside for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, then place in a large bowl.


Pour the chocolate mixture into the graham crackers and begin to stir.
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Make sure the chocolate and graham crackers are uniformly combined. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

When you’re ready to make the balls, sift together the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
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Scoop out the “dough” using a teaspoon or cookie scoop.

Roll them into similarly-sized balls, and then place them in the cocoa-confectioners’ sugar mixture. After you’ve made 4 or 5, toss them in the coating, then place them in a serving bowl, or a plastic bag. If you’re not serving immediately, they store very well in a sealable bag. In fact, they freeze well this way.

Right before serving, take them out of the freezer or refrigerator and let warm slightly. They are not as sensitive to melting as real truffles, but I wouldn’t put these out hours before a party, either. The texture should be firm, yet melt in your mouth.

I’m very pleased with this recipe. The cashew flavor is mild, so I’m glad I didn’t include a liqueur.

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Because of the cashew butter, there is a slight grainy texture to these truffle balls, which I don’t mind. If you prefer, simply use chopped cashews in the chocolate and butter mixture. There are so many choices.

If you want to create your own recipe for truffle balls, here are some guidelines:

1. Pick a cookie, either a flavored cookie (like gingersnaps) or a plain one (like shortbread). Make it seasonal!

2. Pick a chocolate – the sweetness of the chocolate depends on the other ingredients.

3. Pick a liqueur. Because these truffle balls are not cooked, don’t go overboard.

4. Butter is a must because it helps firm up the balls and add richness.

5. Extraneous ingredients can include nuts, crystallized ginger, chocolate chips, broken candies, dried fruits, or in this case, cashew butter. Plus, there’s coffee or orange juice concentrate. Even rosewater.

6. Seasoning, if desired, can be cinnamon, nutmeg, espresso powder, etc.

7. Pick a coating. Truffle balls need something to fancy them up a little, which can be melted chocolate into which they’re dipped, or a combination of cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar, like I used. Adjust the ratio depending on how sweet you want the coating; just cocoa, or even cocoa mix will work just as well. I prefer my truffle balls not cloyingly sweet.

Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

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By definition, truffles, the chocolate kind not the fungus, are made of chocolate and cream only. These I call truffle balls, which are a throwback to the rum and bourbon balls of the 1950’s.

I actually prefer making this kind of truffle, because for one thing they’re way easier than real truffles. You have to have patience to make truffles, for one thing. And, this kind also are more “stable” and less temperamental than real truffles. I usually make a batch or two, freeze them, and then whip them out for when I have company during the holidays. You can’t do that with real truffles.

This truffle recipe I actually came up with when I was doing the food for a charity event benefiting our local SPCA. So many people loved these things and fortunately I kind of remembered what I’d done, and thus, a recipe was born. And, I’m now sharing it.

Ginger Spice Truffles

6 ounces gingersnap cookies
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons spiced rum
2 tablespoons strong coffee*
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

Run the cookies though the food processor until fine crumbs. Place them in a large bowl and set aside.

In the top of a double boiler, place the chocolate, butter, coffee, and rum. Over gently simmering water, melt the ingredients completely. Stir in the cinnamon and ginger. Remove from over the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Then pour the chocolate mixture over the cookie crumbs. Using a rubber spatula, combine the chocolate and the crumbs completely. Cover the bowl with foil, then place the bowl in the refrigerator for about four hours.

When you are ready to make the truffles, get the bowl out of the refrigerator. In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar well. Have a small spoon and a re-sealable bag handy.

Using the spoon, grab a little chocolate and rub it with both of your hand in a circular motion to make a ball. It shouldn’t be larger than 1″ in diameter. The chocolate will be hard, but that’s good. Then roll the truffle in the coating and place it in the bag. Continue with the remaining chocolate-cookie mixture. You can pour the remaining coating mixture into the bag if you wish. Refrigerate the truffles or freeze them. If you freeze them, thaw in the refrigerator first, then put them in a bowl about 30 minutes or so to warm up before serving.

* My mother taught me that whenever she makes pretty much anything chocolate, she adds some coffee to it. She always added it to chocolate mousse, and hers was the best ever. So I do it, too. You can use freshly brewed coffee, or some powdered Espresso, dissolved in water. Just don’t overdo the coffee – it should be drinkable, unless otherwise stated.