Pumpkin Cheese Blintzes
Thanksgivnukkah is just around the corner!
And the internets are abuzz with culinary strategies for celebrating this mash-up of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (which won’t happen for another 70,000 years!).
Buzzfeed Food posted the first collection of Thanksgivukkah recipes to come across my radar. (Yes, everyone seems to spell it “Thanksgivukkah,” but I prefer to spell it with an “n” in the middle: ThanksgivNukkah! Trust me, this is aesthetically better; I’m practically a full-fledged linguist.)
The food sites Food52 and Serious Eats had a Thanksgivukkah recipes face-off. And plenty of food blogs have posted their own Thanksgivnukkah recipe concoctions. (I’ve really been enjoying the Thanksgivnukkah daydreams-made-reality over at my name is yeh; among the amazing recipes that Molly Yeh has brought to life: pumpkin pie with a latke crust.)
My own humble contributions (this recipe, and one next *MONDAY*—because no one’s going to be reading food blogs next Thursday, *on* Thanksgivnukkah!) were both dreamed up by my younger sister, after I called her for Hanukkah food ideas.
Somehow I ended up being a Jew who was unclear on exactly what Jews eat for Hanukkah. I mean, other than latkes (potato pancakes), served with sour cream and applesauce, and the Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) I enjoyed eating as a child, I wasn’t sure which other Hanukkah foods were traditional.
My parents occasionally have small Hanukkah dinner parties—usually overlapping with Christmas rather than Thanksgiving!—where they serve a main course, like brisket or salmon, alongside plenty of potato latkes, all accompanied by a green vegetable side dish or two, Thanksgiving-style. But it wasn’t until I called my sister and her fiancé (who know infinitely more about these things than I do) that I learned that anything fried in oil could count as Hanukkah fare.
Dishes with dairy products are also traditional for Hanukkah. So what could be more perfect than sweet cheese blintzes: a dish with dairy, fried in oil. (And I just learned this now, at age 32.) If only I could go back in time and petition my parents to add cheese blintzes to our yearly Hanukkah menu… Needless to say, I am a fan.
I have lovely—though somewhat fuzzy and distant—memories of visiting my grandparents in New Jersey as a kid, and driving through the Lincoln Tunnel into the city to eat blintzes at Christine’s Polish restaurant on the lower east side of Manhattan. I’d often order both cheese and blueberry blintzes, relishing the rare chance to get away with eating dessert for dinner.
For this recipe, I Thanksgivingified the more traditional cheese-filled blintzes with puréed pumpkin and a smattering of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves (also known as pumpkin pie spice).
I originally considered whipping up a batch of pumpkin pie filling for the blintzes, but pumpkin pie is far too liquidy before baking, and I wanted something firmer to wrap the crepes around. I also considered a straight-up pumpkin cheesecake filling (exactly what my sister had in mind, too; we think alike!) but I think that would have been too messy, too.
I compromised with a firmer ricotta mixed with cream cheese, for a little cheesecake-esque decadence. The filling turned out perfectly: a subtly sweet balance of cheese, pumpkin, and spices.
I used a crepe batter recipe (now the third of its kind to appear on my blog!) from Alice Medrich’s “caramelized crepes filled with fresh cheese” in her cookbook Pure Dessert. This is an egg-ier crepe batter, to make the blintz wrappers more sturdy and flexible. (But as long as your mini crepes are flexible enough to be folded up tight around the pumpkin-cheese filling without allowing any pumpkin-cheese to poke its way out anywhere, then basically any crepe recipe will do.) To keep the crepes even more pliable, they are cooked only on one side, then they are stacked between wax paper and chilled. Folding up the blintzes around the filling brings the sticky uncooked side of each crepe together on the seam side, and helps seal them shut.
One more tip I stole from Alice Medrich’s recipe: fry the blintzes in melted butter with sugar sprinkled over it, so they develop a crispy browned and caramelized surface.
I used an egg in the filling to keep things firmer; I then baked the blintzes for a few minutes after frying them just to make sure the egg was cooked. If you’re feeding a crowd, you might want to transfer sautéed blintzes to the oven anyway, to keep them warm (but if you want to avoid that step, you could also just fry them for a little longer, or leave out the egg and reduce the pumpkin by just a bit).
Then enjoy them for a Thanksgivnukkah / Thanksgivukkah dessert! Or eat your dessert for breakfast, brunch, or dinner. It’s allowed; after all, it’s a (2-in-1) holiday.
Remember to check back next Monday (not Thursday) for my second Thanksgivnukkah recipe.
And meanwhile, if you’re looking for more traditional Thanksgiving recipes to adorn your table next Thursday, I will leave you with a little selection:
|Japanese Pumpkin Soup with Leeks
|Roasted Delicata Squash with Chickpeas, Potatoes, and Kale||Whole Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Root Vegetables||Pumpkin Puree and Pumpkin Ginger Cookies with Walnuts|
|Lemon Roasted Broccoli with Pine Nuts||Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Hazelnuts||Homemade Ciabatta||Pear Brown Butter Buckle|
|Pomegranate Rosemary Focaccia||Skillet Cranberry Apple Crisp (Gluten-Free)||Citrusy Kale and Avocado Salad||Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Rosemary Butter|
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Pumpkin Cheese Blintzes
(Adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich)
(Makes about 20 small blintzes, serves 4-5)
Active time: 1½ hours; Total time: 3½ hours (or 2½ hours and overnight)
Crepe Batter Ingredients:
~ 1 cup all-purpose flour
~ ⅛ tsp. salt
~ 3 eggs
~ 1½ cup milk (or almond milk)
~ ¼ cup water
~ ½ tsp. vanilla extract
~ 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
~ additional butter for cooking the crepes (2-3 Tbsp. total)
~ 5 oz. (⅔ cup) whole milk ricotta (or farmer’s cheese)
~ 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
~ ¼ cup sugar
~ ½ tsp. cinnamon
~ ¼ tsp. cardamom
~ dash of ground nutmeg
~ dash of ground cloves
~ ⅔ cup pumpkin purée
~ 1 egg
Ingredients for frying blintzes:
~ butter and/or vegetable oil (about 5-6 Tbsp. total)
~ sugar (about 5-6 tsp. total)
Special equipment needed:
~ pastry brush
~ 5-6” non-stick skillet or omelette pan
~ wax paper
How to make it:
1. Make the crepe batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, then set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the 3 eggs with a whisk, then mix in the milk, water, vanilla, and melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix well with an electric hand mixer. (Or place dry ingredients in a blender and gradually pour the wet ingredients in while the blender is running.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
2. Make the crepe filling: In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, sugar, and spices, and blend with an electric hand mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the pumpkin purée, then the egg. Cover and chill while cooking the crepes (or for 15-20 minutes, if you’ve already made the crepes ahead of time).
3. Cook the crepes: Heat a small (5-6″) non-stick omelette pan over medium-high heat, and add a tiny dab of butter to the pan. Use a pastry brush to spread the butter evenly across the bottom of the pan, then pour in 2 Tbsp. (⅛ cup) of crepe batter and lift and swirl the pan immediately to spread the batter out evenly. Cook for 1 minute (on one side only), then use a spatula to carefully flip the crepe onto a piece of wax paper: cooked side up. Repeat for each crepe, stacking them between new sheets of wax paper. (If making crepes ahead of time, cover the stack of crepes tightly with plastic wrap and chill for up to 2 days.)
4. Assemble the blintzes: Place a rounded tablespoon of filling near the bottom of the cooked side of a crepe. Roll the bottom of the crepe up over the filling and past the center, then fold the two edges in over the sides, like an envelope; finish rolling up the top of the crepe, and place the blintz folded seams-side down on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining crepes (you may end up with up to 1 cup extra filling, if your crepes are fragile and you fill them somewhat sparsely, but better too much than too little!). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
5. Cook the blintzes: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of butter or vegetable oil (or half butter, half oil) over medium-high heat. Optionally sprinkle about 1 tsp. of sugar over the butter/oil before adding the blintzes. Fry blintzes for 1½-2 minutes on each side until blintzes are browned, then transfer to an oven-safe baking dish (folded sides down); Fry the blintzes in batches of only 3 or 4 at a time (adding more butter/oil and sugar in between batches), so that you have plenty of room to maneuver a spatula around them and flip them gently without letting them spill open. (I did this using two spatulas at once, to cradle a blintz from each side and lean it from one spatula to the other, and I didn’t have a single one break open or spill out any pumpkin-cheese.) Once all of the blintzes have been fried and placed in the baking dish, transfer to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until blintzes are crispy.
Serve warm with powdered sugar, sour cream, or maple syrup.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
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|Crepes with Homemade Applesauce||Pumpkin Pancakes||Baked Brie with Fig Jam in Phyllo Dough||Gingerbread Pancakes with Cinnamon Coffee Whipped Cream|