Blintzes with Blueberry Sauce

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I got married to a pretty awesome guy six years ago yesterday, and despite what the wedding industry will try to tell you, our story did not end there. Our wedding day was a great day, but there have been a zillion more great days for us since then, and we've accomplished way more as a team outside of that day than we accomplished on it.*

But this week also marks NINE years since Judson and I met and started dating, which we're both pretty proud of. We've officially been together for over ¼ of my life and nearly ¼ of Judson's AND for half of that time, we've lived in Scotland. From here on out, more of our relationship will have taken place in Edinburgh than in the US, and I'm pretty thrilled to have hit that milestone. To celebrate six years of wedded bliss (and sometimes less than bliss but still pretty great times), I made us blintzes. These have been on my radar for ages, but since they involve three separate recipes (wrappers, filling, topping), I figured I'd wait until we had a special occasion. And then I waited through like three special occasions because there are a lot of ingredients to make these and, well, I was busy.

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But when you're married to a man who is indifferent to dessert and hates frosting AND you've already made the two fanciest meals you can think of for anniversaries number 4 and 5, it's time to get creative. I made these for dessert, but if you're really into difficult-but-luxurious breakfasts, they would also make an amazing weekend celebration breakfast for your next birthday, mother's/father's day or anniversary. Either way, swallow the hesitation I know is coming when you see how much dairy this recipe requires and make these soon, because they are delightful.

If you've never had a blintz, think fluffier crepes, bursting with a sweet danish-like filling and topped with a barely sweetened fruit compote. If you can get your hands on peaches, try making a peach topping in lieu of blueberries, or to make the whole recipe a little easier, swap the fruit compote for whatever your favourite flavour of pie filling is (cherry would be phenomenal here). We've made (slightly more controversial) blintzes in the Recipe Box Kitchen before, but these are the ones to which I'll return because, come on, who needs a diet blintz?

*Also like 90% of the time the weather is better than it was that day so that's also nice.

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. Worth the effort, and I think you'll agree.

One year ago: Mocha Cake with Caramel Frosting
two years ago: Walnut Butter Cookies
three years ago: 3-ingredient easy bread

the recipe:

Blintzes with Blueberry Sauce

the directions:
blintzes:

At least one hour before cooking, make the blintz batter: combine egg, milk, flour, sugar and salt, beating until very smooth.
Refrigerate while you prepare the filling and topping.

 

 

Filling:

Whisk together cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and cottage cheese until smooth, then set aside.

 


Topping:

Combine sugar and cornflour in a small saucepan and break up any lumps of cornflour before heating.
Heat over low until mixture is clear and thickened slightly.
Add water or orange juice and continue stirring.
Fold in blueberries over low heat, stirring gently.
Add lemon juice and stir once more to combine.

Assembly:

When ready to make blintzes, use the butter to lightly grease a small pan and heat over medium-low heat.
Pour about 2 tbsp of batter into pan and quickly rotate pan so batter spreads evenly over the bottom.
Brown lightly on underside, then turn out WITHOUT cooking the top of blintz.
When all of batter is used, spoon about 1 ½ tbsp of batter into the centre of the COOKED side of the blintz.
Fold left and right edges of blintz over filling and roll up starting from the bottom.
Melt remaining butter in pan and brown filled blintzes, a few at a time, turning as needed to ensure even browning.
Serve warm with sour cream and blueberry sauce.

the ingredients:
the blintzes:

1 egg
½ c (120ml) milk
3/8 c (45g) flour
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp (42g) butter

the filling:

3 oz (80g) cream cheese
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp lemon zest
1/4 c (60g) cottage cheese, blended until smooth

the topping:

6 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp cornflour (cornstarch in the US)
¼ c (60ml) water or orange juice
5 oz (140g) fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ c (60ml) sour cream

Victoria Swiss Roll, A Blogiversary Dessert

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This week marks three years since I started this blog, which means it's been three years of learning lessons the hard way (ALWAYS the hard way), three years of getting the side-eye from Judson on the weirder recipes even as he supports every dish I attempt to make, and three years of actively avoiding the recipes for swiss rolls sprinkled throughout the Recipe Box. But I've picked up a lot of skills in the last three years, and finally decided it was time to tackle a proper swiss roll in the style of a Victoria Sandwich. It was a 2018 goal of mine to learn to make a decent swiss roll, so in honour of the third anniversary of The Recipe Box Project, here we are!

I still make a lot of American and Americanesque recipes these days; a solid chunk of recipes in the box are probably identifiably American, and in a pinch without other plans to the contrary, I'll probably always fall back on the recipes I grew up with. But I'm always trying to broaden my kitchen repertoire and become more experienced with British and especially Scottish dishes. So to combine my roots with my adopted culture, here's a swiss roll made in the style of a Victoria Sandwich- the most quintessential of British desserts.

Loads of tiny bubbles, so make sure you tap that batter before you cook it!

Loads of tiny bubbles, so make sure you tap that batter before you cook it!

See that filling oozing out? That's why you add extra powdered sugar if it's too thin!

See that filling oozing out? That's why you add extra powdered sugar if it's too thin!

A Victoria Sandwich is made of two layers of vanilla cake sandwiched with a filling of jam and a simple buttercream or whipped cream, the whole thing dusted with powdered sugar. I hate a Victoria Sandwich because I am a baptised member of the Church of All Possible Frosting, but using the flavours of a Victoria Sandwich in a swiss roll means you get all the necessary flavours but at a ratio of ¾ cake to ¼ frosting (this is the holy ratio when it comes to cakes, as far as I am concerned). What I'm saying is: this swiss roll is the perfect cake. A combination of British flavour and American techniques, beautifully presentable to your pals, your colleagues or anyone you need to impress, and you don't have to pipe or smooth any frosting!

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Swiss rolls aren't really a thing in the US these days; before making this, I had never even had a swiss roll before, much less made one. I haven't quite perfected my own technique yet- if Mary Berry was invited over for tea, she'd point out that my swirl could be an awful lot tighter*- but I was still pretty stoked at how this one came out (a big improvement over the first time I tried to make one back in 2016... the whole thing fell apart into a pile of messy crumbs before I even got it out of the pan). Then a Scottish friend asked me what I've been cooking lately and I humble-bragged about how I had finally made a successful swiss roll and I guess she didn't realise that I was proud of it and had never made one before, so she rolled her eyes and told me a story about learning to make an amazing swiss roll way back when she was in primary school and how years later as a teenager, her home economics class was such a joke because they did nothing but make swiss rolls every day for weeks and it was the easiest class she's ever taken.

A few words of advice: if there was ever a recipe worth getting your mise-en-place done before you even start, it's this one. Make sure you've read through the recipe and have your pan prepared, your oven preheated and your dishtowel set aside and ready to be used. This isn't a difficult cake to make (and your frosting doesn't have to look stellar!), but you should be prepared for every step of the process before you begin or you'll end up with a cooled cake that won't roll properly. You can fill this cake with anything you want; a chocolate ganache with cherry jam would be amazing, or a citrusy fruit curd. I used raspberry jam and an almond-infused whipped cream cheese frosting to mimic a Victoria Sponge, and I have no regrets.

*No she wouldn't, because Mary Berry is a gem of a person and would never be so rude. But Paul Hollywood totally would.

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. Besides being delicious, this cake is versatile, beautiful, not too heavy and a perfect complement to afternoon tea, a birthday party, or your next dinner party.

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This version of cream cheese frosting makes a glaze, not a frosting, so I updated it below. Don't try to use this one! 

This version of cream cheese frosting makes a glaze, not a frosting, so I updated it below. Don't try to use this one! 

one year ago: mocha cake with caramel frosting
two years ago: swiss chocolate cake
three years ago (new!): old-time chocolate cake with fudge frosting

The recipe:

Victoria Swiss Roll

the directions:
cake:

Preheat oven to 190C/375F.
Grease a 10x15 shallow-sided pan, then line the bottom with greased parchment paper and set aside.
Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt, then set aside.
On medium-high speed, beat eggs until thick and pale yellow (approx. 3 minutes).
Lower speed to medium-low and gradually beat in sugar for approx. 1 minute.
At same speed, add water and vanilla all at once.
Beat in flour mixture all at once.
At same speed, continue beating until very smooth and well-blended.
Pour into prepared pan, then drop pan three times onto counter from a height of a few inches to knock out any air bubbles.
Bake 11-13 minutes until just done.
While cake is in the oven, lay a dishtowel on the counter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Make sure powdered sugar is in a thin, even coat covering the entire dishtowel.
AS SOON AS CAKE COMES OUT OF OVEN, run a knife around the edge of the pan, then turn out onto prepared dishtowel.
Gently peel off parchment paper, then, using the dishtowel as leverage, quickly roll the entire cake into a spiral with the dishtowel, starting with the short end.
Set aside and allow to cool while you make the filling.

Filling:

Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and uniform.
Add salt and almond or vanilla extract, then 3 cups of powdered sugar.
Beat until smooth, then add ½ c (60g) powdered sugar at a time if needed to reach a soft but spreadable consistency.
Once cake is mostly cool (at least 30 minutes, carefully unroll it from the dishtowel and spread with a thin layer of raspberry jam.
On top of jam, spread or pipe cream cheese frosting in a thick layer.
Starting from the same edge as before, gently but tightly roll the cake into a spiral.
Rotate the cake so that the seam is down and place on a serving plate, then sift powdered sugar over the whole thing.

the ingredients:
the cake:

1 c cake flour (or 1 c MINUS 2 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch)
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 c (200g) sugar
5 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
Approx. ¼ c (30g) powdered sugar for sprinkling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the filling:

¾ c (170g) butter, softened
¼ c (55g) cream cheese
3-4 c (375-500g) powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
¼ c (80g) raspberry jam

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies

Well, I knew it would happen eventually.

Remember way back when this project first started and I was making one cheesecake every month?

That was a long 12 months.

I thought I ran out of cheesecakes and while I definitely ran out of cheesecakes proper, I did find this recipe only a few days ago for ‘Philly Marble Squares.’ And let’s be real: these are chocolate chip cheesecake brownies. So I wasn't super thrilled to find the recipe... because I'm still recovering from the cheesecake saga of 2015-2016.

Do you ever set kitchen goals for yourself? Like, ‘I’m going to learn how to make macarons’ or ‘I’m going to learn and master the difference between Swiss and Italian meringue buttercream’ or ‘I’m going to teach myself to frost cakes’ or whatever? No? Just me? Well, if so, I think it’s important to note that I’ve conquered macarons and buttercreams and frosting techniques are next on my list.

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Well, one of my cooking goals has been to get better about mise-en-place, or prepping for a recipe before I actually dive in to cooking it. It seems silly, but getting all the ingredients together, measured, and set aside would save me a shedload of dishes (no dishwasher, remember?) and probably drastically improve the results of my more sensitive baking endeavours. The unexpected bonus of cooking in this way is that it makes me feel like Julia Child hosting a cooking show when I have pre-measured glass prep bowls filled with ingredients I can just pour gracefully into the mixing bowl instead of faffing around looking for a measuring cup while my whipped cream overwhips itself into butter or my meringue falls flat before I have a chance to stir in my almonds. (Can you tell I’ve been on a macaron kick over here?)

I was on the fence about how much prepping for a recipe before actually cooking it could really help make the process go smoothly, but I gave it a try on this recipe and now I’m never going back. It’s an easy recipe, but it does require several steps that need to be taken fairly simultaneously, so I’ve listed the steps below such that you won’t get stuck halfway through realising that your chocolate isn’t melted or your cream cheese mixture isn’t… mixed. Doing it this way gives you ample time at the beginning to be interrupted if, say, your puppy needs a sudden walk while you’re still in the middle of sifting the flour and somehow makes the actual ‘active cooking’ part shrink to take up almost no time at all.

I thought these would be just a slightly softer, richer brownie when I read the recipe, and honestly was afraid they might come out too firm to really be enjoyable but not only was I wrong, I was thrilled to be wrong. I haven’t made brownies this good in awhile, and I make a lot of brownies. The ‘brownie’ part is less dense and fudgy than a normal brownie and verges closer to a really soft sour cream pound cake; top that with a barely-sweetened cream cheese mixture and stud the whole thing with chocolate chips and you’re in business. A dessert that tastes as good chilled from the fridge as it does at room temperature, doesn’t leave your fingers a sticky mess and involves no ‘wait for cake to cool, then frost’ steps is a win in my book. This passed the test of someone who doesn’t love cheesecake but does love chocolate (me) and someone who doesn’t love cake but does love cheesecake (Judson). Bonus? When I presented them to a group, they were gone in less than a minute.

The verdict:

4 spoons out of five, but ONLY because they rose unevenly so the top of the dish of brownies looked rippled. But I think it's important to note that this is a spoon demotion purely for cosmetic reasons, not flavour.

One year ago: One-Egg Cake with Creamy chocolate frosting
two years ago: Brioche

the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies

the directions:

Grease and flour a 10x15-inch jelly roll pan (I think this would work just as well in a cake pan of a similar size).
Preheat oven to 185C/375F.
Combine flour, 2 c sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Combine 2 eggs and sour cream, stir well and set aside.
Combine cream cheese and remaining 1/3 c sugar, stirring until smooth.
Add remaining egg to cream cheese mixture, stir until smooth and set aside.
Combine butter, water & unsweetened chocolate in a pot and melt over medium heat. Bring to a boil then immediately remove from heat.
Stir in flour mixture to melted butter mixture until thick and pulling away from sides of bowl.
Add sour cream mixture and stir until uniform.
Pour into prepared jelly roll pan.
Pour cream cheese mixture over chocolate mixture, trying to pour uniformly across the entire surface.
Drag a knifepoint through the mixture in swirly designs to create a marble effect.
Sprinkle with chocolate chips, then bake 20-30 minutes until pan jiggles just slightly in the middle and a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

the ingredients:

2 c flour
2 1/3 c sugar, divided
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 eggs, 2 for base and 1 for topping
½ c sour cream
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
½ c butter
¾ c water
1 ½ oz unsweetened chocolate
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips