Hello ricotta, my old friend
Have you ever sat down to a eat a powdered-sugar-dusted crepe and thought it would be a lot better if it were smeared with cream cheese? It’s a common neurological occurrence, really. Your brain is simply telling you to make blintzes. Blintzes (also known as Palatschinke or palachinka) are thin crepes rolled into a burrito-like tube and filled with a sweet, creamy cheese mixture common in Central and Eastern Europe. These blintzes are then pan-fried in butter (hold your salivation), drizzled with sweet sauce, and topped with fresh fruit. Blintzes can also go savory, filled with a smooth potato or tangy cheese mixture. A batch of the crepes and their cheese filling can easily be made the night before a big brunch so that the next morning, rolling out an army of warm blintzes will take less than 20 minutes. Like cream cheese frosting-covered cupcakes (minus that pesky cake), cheese blintzes are the right way to do sweet breakfast.
Crack 4 eggs into a blender and pour in 1 cup whole milk and ¼ cup water. Blend the mixture on low just to combine. Blend in ½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, and 1¼ cups all-purpose flour until well combined, scraping down the sides and reblending to ensure the mixture is smooth. With the blender running, pour in 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter. To avoid rubbery crepes, let the mixture stand for at least 30 minutes before frying.
While the batter rests, make the cheese filling. In a food processor or with a sturdy whisk, mix ½ cup cream cheese with 1½ cups ricotta or cottage cheese, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and zest from 1 lemon or ½ a large orange until well-combined.
For savory blintzes, place ½ cup feta cheese and 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese in a food processor and mix until well combined. Fold in ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and ¼ cup sautéed spinach and mushrooms.
After the batter has rested, heat an 8 or 9-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush the skillet with melted butter, then pour in about ¼ cup batter. Swirl the batter around to thinly coat the pan, then let the crepe cook for about a minute. Flip the crepe using a flat or rubber spatula to help turn the pancake. Cook the second side for 30-40 seconds, or until just barely brown.
Slide the crepe onto a plate and repeat with remaining batter.
To assemble a blintz, take a crepe from the pile and place it on a clean surface. Plop 3 tablespoons of your preferred cheese filling into the bottom center of a crepe, leaving a bit of border. Fold the exposed border over the filling, then fold the right and left sides of the crepe towards the center of the blintz, but not quite all the way. Roll the tube shape away from you and place the blintz seam-side down. Repeat this process for the other blintzes.
After you’ve made several blintzes, drop 2 tablespoons of butter into a pan over medium heat. Pan-fry the blintzes, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides.
Serve sweet blintzes with a handful of fresh fruit and a drizzle of glaze made from ½ cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or orange juice. Alternatively, sauté 2 cups of your favorite fruit with 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice (blueberries and blackberries work nicely). Savory blintzes need not much more than a sprinkling of chopped chives.