Cooking with Alison

How to Make Danish Pastries (with Cheese, Blueberry or Apple Filling)

In Desserts, How-To, Other Desserts, Pies & Tarts on February 14, 2014 at am

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I’ve made delicious danishes from scratch twice now, and they were a huge hit.  The cheese danishes are especially good.  You could also use half cheese and half fruit for the filling.  Although you could use store bought puff pastry, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to make your own puff pastry using the shortcut in this recipe.  If you take the time to make a large batch of puff pastry, you can freeze it for future uses.

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Danish Pastry Recipe

makes 6, but this recipe doubles well

for the puff pastry:

1/4 of one batch of homemade puff pastry chilled through in the refrigerator (see recipe here) or 1 (397 g) package of store bought frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator

all purpose flour for flouring surfaces

for the cheese filling:

adapted from Ina Garten

250 grams cream cheese, softened at room temperature (Note:  I use the brand Philadelphia)

2 tablespoons ricotta cheese

1/3 cup granulated white sugar, or more to taste

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract  (Note:  I like to use Mexican vanilla extract.)

pinch of coarse Kosher sea salt

for the wild blueberry filling:

see recipe here

for the apple filling;

see recipe here

for the egg wash:

1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon of water until frothy, approximately 3 minutes of hand whisking

for the sugar wash:

Note that the sugar wash is clear, but it gives the pastry a slightly sticky sweetness that you will often find on danishes in bakeries.

1/4 cup of granulated sugar boiled with 1/4 cup water until dissolved, then cooled to room temperature

Instructions:

Make the filling(s) of your choice and set aside.  If you are making cheese danishes, beat the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until very smooth.  Then add the egg yolks, ricotta cheese, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt, and mix on the lowest speed until just combined.  Taste the filling and add more sugar or salt to taste, if desired.  Ideally, you want the filling to be subtly sweet with a hint of salty savouriness.

Flour a large work surface well.  Flour the top of the puff pastry and use a rolling pin to press down on the dough until it is somewhat flattened.  Then roll the dough out into a large rectangle that is 1/4 inch thick.  While you are rolling out the dough, be sure to pick it up and turn it 90 degrees every now and then to ensure that the dough is not sticking to your work surface.  Re-flour as necessary.  Try to work quickly to prevent the butter in the dough from heating up.  If your dough becomes too soft or sticky, chill it through in the refrigerator before rolling again.

Use a sharp knife or pizza wheel cutter to cut the dough into long strips that are 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide.  Work with one strip of dough at a time.  Hold one end of a strip of dough in each of your hands and twist the dough in opposite directions to create a spiral.  Then coil it around itself on a silpat (silicone) mat lined baking sheet.  In the middle of the coil, use your fingers to press the dough down to create a thin, sealed and flat well.  Create another spiral using a second strip of dough and wrap this around the first coil on the baking sheet.  Be sure to pinch the loose end to another piece of dough, so that the round shape will be maintained during baking.  Repeat these steps to create more danishes and place them at least 2 inches apart from each other on the lined baking sheet.

Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the middle of each of the pastries.  Chill the pastries in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Brush the tops and border of each pastry with the egg wash and bake the pastries for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the pastry is puffed up, nicely browned, and slightly crispy.  Remove the danishes from the oven and immediately brush the sugar wash over the pastry.  Allow the danishes to cool on the cookie sheet away from heat until they are firm enough to be transferred.  Transfer the danishes to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  Serve at room temperature or while still slightly warm.  These are best enjoyed the day they were baked, but they will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

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