Syrniki are a type of small Russian cheese cakes normally made with cottage cheese. Traditionally a breakfast food, these tasty morsels are sweet enough to serve as a dessert. Although the basic ingredients for syrniki are the same, small variations in ingredients, quantities, and preparations are plentiful.
A dry Russian cottage cheese, called tvorog, is usually used to make syrniki. Farmer's cheese, unripened cheese similar in consistency to cream cheese or ricotta, is usually used if tvorog is unavailable. If a wet cottage cheese is used, it can be strained through a fine sieve to give the desired consistency. Using cheese that is too wet results in runny syrniki that will not form into patties or cook correctly.
In addition to cottage cheese, sugar, eggs, flour, and salt are included in syrniki. If a sweet cottage cheese is used, however, the sugar may be omitted. The flour used may be all-purpose, wheat, or semolina and is often a combination of semolina and another type. Very little flour is used in syrniki, and some cooks recommend not using any at all. Flour is also used to coat the working surface when forming the dough into the thick discs.
Some versions may also include lemon juice and zest. Cinnamon or sour cream is also occasionally added. Raisins are added in some versions as well. Syrniki are often served with fruit jam. The jam may be included while the cheese cakes cook or after they are complete.
To make, the cheese, eggs, and sugar are usually mixed together, then the flour is stirred in to create a dough. Mixing can be done by hand or in a food processor. Any additional ingredients are added with the first three.
Once the ingredients are mixed, the dough is often chilled before shaping. Afterward, the dough can be shaped into balls or thick discs. Alternately, the batter can be dropped straight into a frying pan from a spoon and shaped with the back of the spoon. Although the mixture should not be too runny, it should not be stiff enough to roll like bread or pasta dough. If it is, too much flour has been added.
Syrniki are fried in cooking oil or butter. These cheese cakes are not, however, deep fried. Once placed in the pan, the patties are allowed to cook for a few minutes on one side before flipping and cooking on the other side. Finished syrniki are golden colored.