Until a few days ago, I was sure Polish Pączki have something to do with Easter bread Paska because for a Russian speaking person this word looks like it should sound the same. I was wrong, and I was wrong. Apparently, Pączki are pronounced POONCH-key [ˈpɔnt͡ʂkʲi] and are similar to what I know as Ponchiki from my childhood. Only now I discovered their name came to Russian from the Polish language!
This recipe is based on me Japanese soufflé cheesecake, which is also known as “cotton” cheesecake. Very popular in Asian countries for its texture — fluffy and velvety creamy at the same time — it is getting more and more known in the U.S. Just like regular cheesecakes, this souffle cheesecake can be flavored with vegetable and fruit purees. This pumpkin cheesecake is as soft and creamy as a mousse, with delicate flavors of honey and pumpkin.
Lviv syrnyk is the most popular dessert in Western Ukraine. It is a Ukrainian cuisine treasure and existed way before its worldwide popular counterpart Japanese souffle cheesecake. Both of them belong to the same category of desserts — light, fluffy, dreamy, and amazing with hot bitter drinks like black coffee and tea. Unlike Japanese cheesecake, Lviv Syrnyk is made with real homemade cheese with high-fat content. It is flavored with fresh lemon zest and juice and glazed with chocolate.
Since the kefir culture started living in my kitchen, I have fresh kefir products (drinking, strained, and soft cheese) in my fridge all the time. When they are handy, I find more amazing culinary uses for them all the time. The moment I saw a kulich recipe where farmer’s cheese was an ingredient to add to the dough, I knew I have to try it with my kefir cheese. I also wanted to try an idea I saw a few time online (don’t know who the author is) for forming this Easter bread as a flower, sunflower or daisy. The result is amazing! There is a faint hint of cheese. The texture is so creamy, a comparison to Japanese Souflee Cheesecake came to my mind. It is still a sponge, but the sensation of crumb melting in your mouth is incredible.
Made with relatively low-moist fresh cheese, traditional syrniki don’t need a lot of flour. Less flour helps to maintain low-carb diet and appreciate the natural taste of cheese in cooked pancakes. Syrniki are light textured, soft and fluffy, with only a hint of sweetness and vanilla. Serve them hot or warm, simply with a dollop of sour or whipped cream. The more elements you add, the more exciting this dessert becomes. You can add fresh seasonal or preserved berries and fruits. On top of the cream, sprinkle syrniki with sliced and toasted nuts, or cocoa nibs, or any other crunchy crumbs to add more texture and flavor variety to the dessert.