Blame it on bad luck, but for most of my life I didn’t understand the appeal of blintzes. I’d only known them as eggy crêpes stuffed with gritty, sweetened cheese and topped with a cloying fruit sauce. But after a recent trip to New York City, our executive food editor Bryan Roof couldn’t stop talking about the beautiful blintzes he’d eaten (check out tasting notes and photos from that trip).
Improving Cheese Blintzes
The reasons so few people make blintzes were revealed by the existing recipes I found. They called for hard-to-find specialty pans and for flipping the giant crêpes halfway through cooking, which I found really tricky. And each recipe produced a gritty, not creamy, filling. I had work to do.
First I’d tackle the filling. I wanted it smooth, creamy, and just sweet enough. While blintzes are often made with farmer’s cheese—a mild fresh cheese with a lovely flavor but a tendency toward grittiness—I found that ricotta made a much smoother filling. A little cream cheese added tanginess, and confectioners’ sugar gave it just enough sweetness and body.
For the crêpes, I started with the test kitchen’s favorite recipe, a simple batter that produces light, pliable crêpes about 6 inches in diameter. But because I’d eventually be folding these into rectangular packets stuffed with cheese filling, I needed them to be bigger than usual. I made a few alterations to the ingredient amounts and, rather than reach for a small crêpe pan, grabbed a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Scooping 1/3 cup of the batter into my hot, lightly buttered pan, I slowly swirled it to cover the surface and cooked it for about 1 minute, until it was lightly golden on the bottom.
While regular crêpes must be flipped at this point to achieve a lovely browned color on both sides, crêpes for blintzes need to cook through only long enough to firm up for filling and folding; after all, one side is invisible on the plate. I could simply remove the crêpes one by one as they cooked and pile them onto a plate. I was happy to find that they didn’t stick to each other.
Once filled, these blintzes would make a second visit to the skillet to brown and warm through. To guard against any filling oozing out into the skillet, I had to fold them up very carefully. Here’s how: After spooning the filling onto each crêpe, I folded over the bottom edge and then the sides. I finished rolling the crêpe around the filling to form a neat, tidy blintz. I could nestle six of these blintzes at a time into my skillet to finish off.
Bonus: I found that if I wrapped up the blintzes, I could hold them in the freezer overnight (or for up to a month) before browning them in the skillet, right from the freezer, when I was ready to serve.
A bright, quick-cooking sauce of tart raspberries balanced the rich, lightly sweetened blintz filling. My bad blintz memories were banished.