July 15, 2013
« lollipops » de fromage blanc
What do you give a chocoholic for Christmas? In 1981, I selected a chocolate Easter bunny for the occasion. It worked. Three years later we were married. But I’m getting ahead of the story.
Earlier in the year, I start jogging three times week with a group at the local YMCA. The woman that gathered us all together at 6:30 those mornings had a cheese shop in the next town. Her friend had a chocolate shop in the same building in the space behind the cheese shop. This will make sense in a while.
On October 2nd of that year, the jogging group held a potluck dinner. One of my fellow early‑rising fools brought along his wife, her sister, and a friend of the sister. The friend got bored and left early. The guy, wife, and sister came to my apartment after dinner for tea. I started dating the sister a week or so later.
In December, I decided to buy the sister, who I had now dated almost two months, a Christmas gift. I was talking to the chocolate maker—the one whose shop was behind the cheese shop—about some sort of molded, hollow chocolate sculpture. I didn’t like most of the molds until she pulled out the one for a large Easter bunny. It was well over a foot tall. She said that it would be expensive because it would take a lot of chocolate. I gave her the go ahead anyway.
Late in the next week, I picked up the long‑eared, large‑footed gift. EB—all bunnies need a nickname—was sporting a festive ribbon around its neck. It was wrapped in a large piece of cellophane tied with a matching ribbon. The store was crowded with Christmas shoppers. When I explained to some of the other customers why I was buying an Easter bunny at Christmas, a number of them wanted one, too.
The gift was a hit. Although my future wife started nibbling on EB at Christmas, the last morsel wasn’t finished until Easter. Now, let’s backup a bit.
The woman with the cheese shop in front of the chocolate shop, the one who had organized the potluck, had a son who trained daily as a swimmer. One day she came to class all excited because she was able to make roll‑up sandwiches for the swim team. It seems that the large sheets of soft lavosh had recently become available, and the team members liked the novelty sandwiches. She filled the sandwiches, which could be eaten like a burrito, with cheese and cold cuts from her store. See also started selling the same sandwiches in her shop. Everybody liked them. She even brought some to the potluck.
Moving forward thirty‑one years to a few weeks ago, I was at my local Persian⁄Iranian market perusing the aisles for something interesting. I found some lamb testicles—the butcher said that they carry them all the time—which may become an amuse‑bouche later. They also had a large rack of rectangular packages of soft lavosh. I must have stood in front of the rack for 5 minutes trying to decide if I wanted to buy a package. I had an amuse‑bouche in mind based on those rolled‑up sandwiches, but in the end I figured that one package would make more than a hundred servings. Before I left, I did purchase a package of dried fenugreek leaves.
So home I came with an idea but no lavosh. It couldn’t be that difficult to make? I checked out a slew of recipes on the Internet. Most seemed to be for crackers, not the soft lavosh I was looking for. Finally I found a yeast‑based recipe from a gentleman who identified himself as Persian. I figured how to make only a fifth of his recipe. The results turned out tasty, but tough and stiff. Hmm, maybe it was time to shelve the idea?
As my thought processes often work, I woke the next morning with a solution: Crepes made with buckwheat flower. I’ve made many buckwheat crepes over the years since I wrote an article
on the subject early in the life of my website. With a few minor modifications, a suitable crepe could be made.
The real brainstorm came when I was in the kitchen preparing to make the batter. I started to get my round crepe pan from the drawer, thinking about how much of the crepe would be wasted to make the rectangular piece required for the amuse‑bouche.
Then I remembered my makiyakinabe,
the rectangular omelet pan I used for the Japanese tomagoyaki
. This would make a crepe that was approximately 11.5 cm by 16 cm (41
in by 61
in), an almost perfect size. Although I reduced the recipe quite a bit, I still ended up with nine crepes. Each crepe makes about six servings. That means that one order of crepe batter will produce enough for more than 50 servings.
I took the extra crepes and interleaved them with parchment paper. The whole stack was then vacuum packed and frozen.
30 g (1 oz)
40 g (11⁄3 oz)
150 ml (5⁄8 c)
neutral vegetable oil
30 g (1 oz)
fresh fromage blanc
finely ground, dried fenugreek leaves
1. Place the flours and salt in a deep bowl. Add the egg, and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until the egg is incorporated. Add half the milk, and incorporate. Add the remaining milk, and beat until smooth and the lumps are gone. Mix in the oil, and set the batter aside to rest for at least an hour.
2. Mix the cheese and fenugreek until smooth. Let rest at room temperature.
3. Heat the makiyakinabe over medium heat. Coat the surface with a light film of oil. Using a 30‑ml (2‑T or 1‑oz) ladle, add the batter to the hot pan, and swirl gently until the entire bottom is coated. When the edges of the crepe brown a little and the top no longer appears totally raw, flip the crepe to brown what was the top side.
4. When a crepe is completed, stack it with the others on a plate. Again, lightly oil the bottom of the pan and proceed with the next crepe in the pan.
5. To make the crepe rolls, lay a fully cooled crepe on a flat surface. Spread the cheese filling in a thin layer leaving one long end clear for about a centimeter (3⁄8 in). Place the crepe on a piece of plastic wrap, and using the plastic as an aid, tightly roll the crepe with the cheese towards the clear edge. Make sure that the clear edge overlaps the cylinder and lies flat. Wrap the cylinder tightly in the plastic wrap, and twist the free ends gently to compress the cylinder towards its center. Thoroughly chill the cylinder.
6. Just before serving, leaving the plastic in place, trim the ends of the cylinder. Then cut it into six equal portions. Remove the plastic from each piece. Gently insert a cardboard lollipop stick though the side of each piece.
7. If you wish, decorate the lollipops for serving.
Notes: Instead of cardboard lollipop sticks, the pieces can be served on wooden picks or simply as cylinders on a plate. Any soft, easily spreadable cheese can be substituted for the fromage blanc, which may be too tangy for some tastes. Likewise, other flavorings can be substituted for the fenugreek.
As the crepes are cooked, the pan will get progressively hotter. Be prepared to lower the heat slightly after each one is cooked until the heat is stable.