A signature Hanukkah dish: Sweet Cheese & Almond Dumplings
Many of the signature dishes of Hanukkah involve either cheese or frying in oil -- or both! Since I like to have it all, I created these fried sweet cheese and almond dumplings featuring both ingredients. Happily, they are easy to make and require no special equipment other than a deep fat thermometer.
Basically, these are blintzes in won ton wrappers. The filling consists of ricotta, cream cheese, an egg, sugar and spritzes of lemon and vanilla, all combined with almond paste. If anyone in your home is allergic to nuts, just leave out the almond paste.
As noted, the filling is encased in won ton wrappers, which can be found alongside the grocer's Asian produce, or in the dairy or frozen foods sections. They're a great and versatile item, but they tend to dry out quickly. Be sure to always keep them covered in plastic wrap, unwrapping only a few at a time as you stuff them. This recipe won't require a whole package of wrappers. If you carefully wrap and freeze the unused ones, they'll be good to go in a future recipe.
Shaping the wrappers into triangles is the only time-consuming part of this recipe. You want to be sure to seal the edges of each triangle tightly so the filling doesn't spill out into the hot oil. The glue is provided by the white of a single egg. If one of your triangles should happen to split as it fries, just lift it out gently, park it on the side until you've finished frying the sealed wontons, then give it another shot in the oil. Split triangles seem to reseal themselves as they rest.
As always with deep-frying, be sure that your pan is deep and filled with no more than 2 inches of oil, and that the temperature is maintained at 325 degrees. Also, don't crowd the pan with too many wontons -- it'll make the temperature dip and you'll end up with soggy triangles.
The raspberry sauce is a speedy little delight made from defrosted frozen raspberries that are crushed, then flavored with a bit of sugar. You're welcome to swap in blueberries, strawberries, finely chopped peaches, or any of your favorite fruits. If you have the time and inclination to refine this part of the recipe, you can puree the berries, then put them through a sieve to remove the seeds before adding the sugar. Whatever you do, don't skip the sauce; it provides a tart balance to the sweet wontons.
• Sara Moulton is host of public television's "Sara's Weeknight Meals." She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including "Cooking Live." Her latest cookbook is "Home Cooking 101."