Saturday, May 26, 2012

Baked Lemon Ricotta Blintzes with a Fresh Blackberry Sauce

Practically every week, on one of my hubby's days off, he makes my crepe recipe and a ricotta (or cottage cheese) and cream cheese filling. I used to be the crepe maker in the family, but one day I just couldn't get to it as fast as he wanted them done so I gave him the recipe and taught him how to do it. Now he makes them more than I do. One of these days I will post that recipe on here, but not today. Today I'm doing basically one big crepe that you can cut into individual servings. I guess if you fill a crepe with a cheese filling it is more like a blintze than a crepe, hence this recipe is called baked blintzes and not baked crepes - but they are pretty much the same thing.
   I don't know if it's because my amazing hubby has been gone for days on a fire and I'm just missing him, or I'm missing the crepes that I don't have to make myself (probably both), but I wanted an easy way to have my cheese filled crepes with out having to stand at the stove and make individual crepes. I got this idea from Ina Garten's recipe on the food network. She made hers with a blueberry sauce, but I had fresh blackberries on hand so that was my choice. I followed the basics of her recipe, but I changed enough to call it my own. It gives the same flavors as my crepes, but the kids said that they still prefer the thin delicate crepes that we usually make instead. My craving was squashed so my goal was met. I got my crepe fix, now if I could only get one of those rare calls from my better half and I could have my hubby fix too! Oh, the life of a wildland firefighter's wife. Sorry . . . tangent.
   Back on topic - these baked blintzes are very yummy, and I WILL be making these again! They take longer to make than a batch of my crepes, because this filling has eggs and it needs to bake for 40 minutes, but it's taking care of itself in the oven. I don't need to be babysitting it; so I can go about my life and get some other things accomplished. So, it's easier and sometimes ease wins out over time - certainly today. :)

  Enough chatting, let me show you what I did.

I started with the batter. It's most easily done in a blender, but I wanted to use my blender for dinner (I'm making Corn Pasta, and will post the recipe soon.). I didn't want to wash my blender twice in one day, so I just mixed the batter by hand today. It's really hard to get out all the lumps this way, but it worked out o.k.

I started with the wet ingredients. - If you are doing this in your blender, just dump everything in at once. Blend. Scrape down the edges and blend again until smooth. If you're doing this by hand, like me, start with the wet ingredients.
1 1/4 cups milk

2 Tbsp sour cream

1/4 melted butter (salted)

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

2 Tablespoons of sugar

1 1/3 cups flour, sifted then measured. Slowly add the flour while whisking to get out the lumps.

1 Tbsp baking powder - still whisking. (This is something that you would never put in traditional blintzes or crepes, because you don't want them to puff. You want almost paper thin delicate disks of deliciousness. But, since we are making two, thicker layers of this batter, you need the little puff to keep the light feel. Otherwise it would be hard and dense.

Pour half of the batter into a greased 9x13 baking dish.

Spread out the batter to evenly coat the bottom of the dish. It goes into a preheated 350F oven for about 10 minutes until just set.

While that bakes, it's time for the filling.
2 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese and 8 oz of cream cheese go into a large mixing bowl. (I nuked the cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds so that it will whisk smooth.)

1/3 cup of sugar goes in (this is to taste)

the zest of 2 lemons (about 2 tsp)

and the juice of those lemons (about 2 Tbsp)

1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla (if you wish)

At this point, mix everything together and taste the filling. If you want more sugar, lemon or salt, now is the time to add it. When it tastes the way you like, then add 2 eggs.

Whisk until smooth. The first layer of the blintze is now done, so take that out the oven and then pour all of the filling on top.

Then the second half of the batter gets gently poured/drizzled on top of the cheese filling. (I used a cup measure to better control my pour. If you pour too fast, or too much, the batter will sink down under the cheese filling. You want to just drizzle it over the top in an even layer.)

The whole dish goes in the 350F oven to bake for 40 minutes.
While that baked, I did my blackberry sauce. I made just enough sauce to have a light coating on top of the blintzes. I think blintzes should be all about the cheese. But, if you like a more equal ratio of cheese to fruit then double the sauce recipe.

I put 1 package (6 oz) of washed blackberries into a pan.

I added the zest of a small lemon (about 1/2 tsp)

and it's juice (about 1 Tbsp)

Then I added 2 Tbsp of powdered sugar. (If you want it sweeter, you can add more, but I would add just granulated sugar. The powdered sugar will thicken the sauce and if you add too much the sauce will be more of a jam than a sauce.)

Turn the heat on medium, and mash the berries with a potato masher.

Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Turn off and your sauce is done!  (You can also add a smidge of cinnamon if that is a flavor you like. - Smidge is a technical term. It means a tiny bit, an 1/8 tsp at most, probably more like 1/16 tsp.)

When the baked blintzes are done, let them sit for 10-15 minutes. Then just cut and serve. You can serve the sauce over each piece like this:

Or, just spread the sauce over the whole dish. (I think this is easier, and everyone gets the same amount. You don't have to worry about running out of sauce if someone serves too much. - or you can just make more sauce.)

It was at this point that I thought the dish looked a little plane and needing some dressing up. A dusting of powdered sugar always does the trick.
- Don't mind that pieces keep disappearing and ending up on my plate, and consequently, in my mouth.  Just pretend it's a complete dish. 

There. Nice and pretty. Tastes just like my cheese filled crepes, without standing at the stove babysitting the crepes.  Hubby would like them . . . wish he were here.
Here's the recipe:

Baked Lemon Ricotta Blintzes with a Fresh Blackberry Sauce

1 1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup (salted) butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder

2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, softened 
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar (to taste)
Zest of two lemons (about 2 tsp grated lemon zest)
2 Tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of two lemons)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional) 
1/2 tsp salt

Fresh Blackberry Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.

For the batter, place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend, then scrape down the sides and blend again until smooth. If  whisking by hand, put milk, sour cream, butter, vanilla, eggs and sugar into a mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Slowly add the sifted flour and baking powder, while whisking to prevent lumps. When the batter is smooth, pour half the batter into the prepared dish and bake for about10 minutes, until set.

   Meanwhile, for the filling, whisk together the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and juice, salt and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined and taste to see if you want to add more sugar, lemon, etc. When it tastes good, add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Spread the cheese filling over the baked bottom layer. Carefully spoon/drizzle the remaining batter to cover the cheese filling.

Return the pan to the oven and continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and the filling is almost set (still a little jiggly when you move the pan.) Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the blintzes in squares and serve warm with the fresh blueberry sauce.

Fresh Blueberry Sauce:  

6 oz blackberries
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest (zest of one small lemon)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Put all the ingredients into a small to medium sauce pan on the stove. Turn the heat to medium and mash the berries with a potato masher. When the mixture boils, cook for one minute and turn the heat off.  Spread the sauce over the cooked and cooled blintzes.

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