Do you ever come across a food that instantly brings up a specific memory? Most things I make for Russian Bites just bring up general nostalgia mixed with excitement about eating my childhood favorites again. This time though, during my usual refrigerator check-in I noticed a package of farmers cheese (left from what was supposed to be stuffed blini, except they were devoured too quickly before I had a chance to convert them into anything else) so I decided to research what new Russian thing I could make. The second I realized I could make sirki I was instantly hit with the memory of the last time eating these. It was such a fun little trip down the memory lane!
So this memory is actually about my trip to Russia. It was during my junior year in college when I studied abroad in England. My friend, Cory, was studying abroad in Moscow that year so I thought it was the perfect time to finally go to Moscow and St. Petersburg (for those that may be confused, I’m originally from Kishinev in Moldova and our traveling within the former Soviet Union was previously limited to Moldova and Ukraine). So it was about 9 months since I had any Russian food and 21 years since I’ve had Russian food from Russia My dad arranged for one of his friends to pick me up from the airport and Cory was there to greet me as well. I got my bags, we made our way to the car and jumped into the back seat. The second the car took off, Cory dug into her purse and whipped out a chocolate covered sirok (sirki is plural, sirok is singular)… and said: “Remember these? I recently discovered them and can’t get enough. I figured you may have missed them. Eat, eat, before it melts!!”
It was the coolest treat to be greeted with! Right then and there I knew it was going to be a fantastic trip. It made me very homesick and in fact during that trip I decided that it was my destiny to one day move to Russia with a fancy finance job and marry a Russian boy. I felt this incredible sense of belonging. Maybe I just missed my mom’s cooking. [Btw, I never did move back there and my husband is very much American but I couldn’t be happier. I am happy, however, that sirki are back in my life!]
So after all this talking you hopefully want to know what these are. Sir means cheese in Russian, so these sort of translate to “little cheese bites.” They are basically tangy cheesecake bonbons covered in chocolate and are sold all over Russia in the refrigerated section (sort of like you may see a big freezer’s full of ice cream in the US, you’d see a section with sirki in Russia). The colors represent different brands and different flavors of sirki. Mmm, I want to dive into this fridge!
Luckily for you and me, they are really easy to make so we can all get our sirki fix any day of the week! The lollipop sticks are not at all traditional but I think a sirki-lollipop trend is right around the corner. I mean, what doesn’t taste better on a stick?!
Ingredients (makes approx. 20 pops):
- 12 oz farmer’s cheese
- 4 oz cream cheese (low fat worked great for me)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- zest of 2 lemons
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 12 oz chocolate, chopped (I used bittersweet – use your favorite!)
- 3 tablespoons of solid vegetable shortening
- equipment: cheesecloth
- optional: lollipop sticks
In a food processor, combine farmer’s cheese, cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks and lemon juice.
Mix in lemon zest.
Add cheese mixture to a colander lined with a cheesecloth (folded in 2 layers).
Fold cheesecloth over the cheese mixture, cover with a plate and a few heavy cans.
Place colander over a medium bowl. Refrigerate overnight to allow for the whey to strain.
The next day, take the cheese mixture out of the cheesecloth. It should be slightly hardened. Form into small balls. I like using a medium cookie scoop for this task.
In a double boiler (or medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water), melt chopped chocolate and shortening. Let cool for a few minutes.
If using lollipop sticks, insert sticks into the cheesecake balls and dip in chocolate. Place on a large cookie sheet (or serving tray) and refrigerate until the chocolate is set. If you don’t have lollipop sticks, use a toothpick for dipping, then dollop some chocolate over the toothpick hole.
Enjoy!!! I found them best served straight from the fridge. Too long out of the fridge and the cheese starts to soften (still delicious but it gets a bit messy).
What are your favorite bite-sized desserts? Any recent food experiences stirring up long forgotten moments?