It’s National Cheesecake Day, a.k.a. the thousandth time I’ve wished we had The Cheesecake Factory in Canada (yes, cheese-centric dessert is something every man, woman and child needs within waddling – er, driving distance), because you can get a slice for half-price there today.
Anyway. Cheesecake is delectable on its own, but in my opinion, it’s best served with a tart fruit topping (one of my favourites was a key lime cheesecake my dad made me for my birthday a few years ago. There was lime zest flecked in the mixture that made it look uncannily like sour cream and onion chips). For a match-made-in-heaven pairing, there’s only one fruit that fits the bill: Cherries. It’s a classic for a reason.
Cameo by my hideous mutilated cutting board
I’m pegging this entry to National Cheesecake Day, because although I can’t bake (except for a killer apple pie – does that absolve me?), I can riff on cherries and cheese like nobody’s business. Let’s talk cherry cheese pierogi, shall we?
I’ve had wonton wrappers in my fridge for a period of time that falls somewhere after embarrassing and before food poisoning. I’m pretty sure I bought them to make a decadent-looking squash ravioli in the dead of winter and probably went out for it or something equally lazy in the end. I forgot about them until two things happened on the same day: I bought both sour cherries and sweet Bing cherries from my grocery store (I feel a possessive impulse toward “my” grocery store because it’s so much more special than an average chain); and we talked about cherry cheese pierogi at work. Basically a sign from the universe, right? I know. Carry on.
I wanted to wait to make them until I had someone to share them with (okay, someone to show off for – I’m already mildly impressed with myself on average so I can just eat the same salad every day and a flimsy protein source), but it was worth it. I highly recommend the cheat version of pierogi (hell, pasta, turnovers, anything else that requires dough) with wonton wrappers if you’re short on time or baking-challenged, like me.
Here’s my attempt at a recipe:
Cherry cheese “pierogi”
(Makes about 20 with doubled-up wonton wrappers and more than a few casualties)
– Package of wonton wrappers
– 1/2-ish cup sour cherries, pitted and chopped
– 1-ish cup Bing cherries, pitted and chopped
– 1 tbsp honey
– 3/4 log of plain goat cheese
– Egg wash, for sealing
1. Start with the cherry mixture. Add your pitted, chopped cherries and honey to a small saucepan and cook on medium until they start to get soft. Add water (or more honey, if you’re feeling decadent) to the pan as needed if they’re sticking. When they’re soft, turn down the heat to low and simmer, smushing with a potato masher or wooden spoon until they reduce to a thick substance.
(Because I’m all about the cheats with this recipe, you can do exactly what I did, which was to put all that stuff in a bowl and microwave it until they were soft. I’m writing stovetop because I think it would’ve worked a bit better, but my easy way totally worked, too. Hooray, options!)
Also, preheat your oven to 350F now, because it probably takes an agonizingly long time to heat up, like mine.
2. Once cherries have reduced, take them off the heat and add the goat cheese. Mix until combined. It should look like a questionable face scrub.
3. Start filling your “pierogi” by plunking a dollop of your cherry-cheese mixture in the centre of the wonton wrappers.
Three tips here: 1. Flouring your wonton wrappers makes them easier to work with and less prone to tears – just add a bit of flour to work surface, no need to coat them or anything; 2. You may need to double up. If your wonton wrappers are particularly thin/old/moist like mine were, there’ll be teeny holes through which the mixture will keep escaping. It’s cool, just be sure to bake them longer; 3. Don’t add more than a quarter-sized amount of mixture to your wontons, they won’t seal properly. You’ll get it after a few failed attempts, like I did, regardless.
4. Brush two edges of the wrapper with egg wash, fold it over and use a fork to press down and seal.
5. Repeat 3 and 4 for what seems like forever, until you run out of mix or wonton wrappers. This recipe worked out pretty evenly for me, I think I had two or three wonton wrappers left in the end.
6. When you’ve finished filling and sealing your pierogi, put them on a tinfoil-lined (viva cheats, man, no dishes!) baking sheet with enough space that they aren’t touching ([insert weird joke about leaving room for The Holy Spirit here and then delete it because, what? You didn’t even go to a Catholic school]).
7. Bake the pierogi until the outside is light brown like a toasty marshmallow (I undercooked mine a bit, so just pretend they all look the ones at the edges of the pan in this picture). You can also boil them until they float and then fry them in a pan for outside crispiness, which would be even better. I was afraid mine would burst because of my flimsy wrap-work, so I baked them and they turned out fine just the same. Smacznego! (Google says this is the Polish-equivalent of bon appetit.)
Have you ever used wonton wrappers? I’d love to hear your cheats, cherry-cheese musings, and of course, any recipes you’d like to share in the comments below. If you have been to The Cheesecake Factory, I await a detailed description of your visit and your dessert choice. Happy National Cheesecake Day!