Asian cuisine is my comfort food. On most Friday nights, after the long work week, I am often found sitting on the couch, eating peanut curry stir-fry and cream cheese wontons. I leave work joyfully skipping not only because of the upcoming weekend, but also knowing my favorite meal is only a short morsel away.Recently, a friend told me about eating cranberry jalapeño cream cheese wontons at a local Asian fusion restaurant. I was immediately intrigued with this flavor combination. What can be wrong with mixing cream cheese with tart cranberries and jalapeño heat? Absolutely nothing! The cream cheese balances the tangy cranberries, while the warmth of the jalapeño finishes each bite. Each nibble is completely gratifying.
Thinking about the upcoming holiday gluttony, I thought this wonton recipe would add some zip to an appetizer menu. This recipe is simple to make and can be made ahead of time, or with all the dinner guests hanging out in the kitchen.
Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Wontons
Serves: About 37 wontons
1 package of cream cheese
1 cup cranberry sauce (recipe follows)
2 T. flour
40 wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten
Canola Oil for frying
Leftover cranberry sauce for dipping
In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, cranberry sauce and flour. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg.
Place 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture in the center of the wonton wrapper. Don’t try to add more cream cheese mixture, otherwise the filling will ooze out when frying. Brush the edges of the wonton with the egg mixture. Then, fold the wrapper over to form a triangle, pressing the edges together to tightly seal the wonton. Continue this process with the remaining cream cheese mixture and wonton wrappers.
Heat the oil to 350° in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Fry the wontons until golden brown, turning once, or for about 1 minute on each side. Do not fry too many wontons at once, otherwise the oil temperature will lower too much. Remove the wontons with tongs and drain on a plate covered with paper towels. Serve hot. Dip in leftover cranberry sauce.
Yields: 1 1/2 cups
1-12 oz. bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 -1 inch chunks of fresh ginger, peeled
2 Tbsp. minced jalapeños
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
Rinse and pick over the cranberries. Place cranberries, ginger, and water in a pot and simmer about 5 minutes, mashing the cranberries while simmering (the cranberries will pop once heated). After 5 minutes, add the sugar, lemon zest, orange zest and jalapeños. Simmer another 2-3 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Take off the heat and remove the ginger pieces.
Add the salt and lemon juice to the cranberry mixture. Place in the refrigerator and cool.
If you like a stronger ginger flavor, add 2 tsp. of chopped crystallized ginger to the cream cheese mixture, or grated 1 tsp. of fresh ginger into the cranberry sauce. The wontons can be made a day ahead of time. Make sure to cover the unfried wontons to prevent the wonton wrapper from drying out.
Another Appetizer Combination: baguette + goat cheese + cranberry sauce