Mama Min’s “Cheesecake” Blintzes
Ellen Gray’s recipe for cheese-stuffed blintzes served with sour cherry sauce is inspired by the summers in Florida spent with her grandma, aka her Mama Min. Hefty blintzes filled with farmer’s cheese, cream cheese, a dash of sugar, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of zest, all topped with a sour cherry sauce fortified with vanilla bean and lemon rind. Sour cherry season is fleeting, so if you can’t get your hands on fresh sour cherries, canned sour cherries work just as well here. We used canned cherries in the photos , and have made them 4 times since the shoot. In other words, you can’t go wrong with this recipe.
Ellen is a professional pie whisperer, lover of pocket foods, a half-Marathon runner and former restauranteur. Read more about her at No More Mr. Nice Pie and follow her on Instagram @nomoremrnicepie for pretty pictures, puns and pie-kus.
Mama Min’s Cherry “Cheesecake” Blintzes
Blintz Cheese Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
12 ounces farmer’s cheese, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons sugar, depending upon your sweet tooth
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Blintz Pancake Shell
¾ cup sifted flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon salad oil
1 generous tablespoon of sour cream
Sour Cherry Compote Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1½ cups water
½ vanilla bean
2 slices of lemon peel
1 quart sour cherries, rinsed, stemmed, and pitted
Blintz Pancake Directions
Add the salt to the sifted flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salad oil and sour cream. Gradually add the flour/salt to the egg mixture, about 1 tablespoon at a time so the batter is smooth and without lumps. (If specks of flour peek out from the batter, pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl.) Cover the batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Clarify butter for frying (melt 6 tablespoons butter, skim off foam, leave sediment behind; you should have about 2-3 tablespoons of clarified butter)
Retrieve the batter from the fridge and give it a stir. Heat a heavy 6” or 7” skillet; brush with some of the clarified butter. Pour about 2-3 tablespoons of the batter into the hot skillet, immediately tilting the pan from side to side to cover the bottom. Cook just until the pancake blisters, then use an offset spatula to flip the pancake to the other side, cooking it for about 30 seconds, just to cook the raw batter. Ease the pancake onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue with the remaining batter, brushing the skillet in between pancakes with just enough butter to prevent sticking. Set the pancakes aside while you prepare the filling.
Blintz Filling Directions
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese with the farmer cheese, beating until smooth. Add the egg yolk, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and vanilla, making sure the mixture is thoroughly combined.
Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of cheese filling along one side of the pancake. Tuck in the opposite sides and roll up like a jelly roll. Continue filling and rolling each blintz.
The blintzes can be arranged in a buttered baking dish and warmed in a 400 degree oven, just until browned. If you don’t feel like turning on the oven, the blintzes can be browned in a little bit of butter in a skillet on top of the stove. Use a pancake turner or an offset spatula to carefully turn the blintzes so they are golden on both sides. Serve with Sour Cherry Compote and a dollop of sour cream.
Sour Cherry Compote Directions
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, water, vanilla bean, and lemon peel. Bring to a rolling boil then reduce the heat, cooking the mixture for about 5 minutes, until it thickens slightly. Add the cherries and cook over low heat for an additional 10 minutes, until the cherries soften but do not break down. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cherries, placing them in a heat-proof bowl. Cook the remaining liquid, vanilla bean, and lemon peel over low heat until it becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely before pouring it over the cooked cherries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.