Monday, March 9, 2009

Easy Cheese Danish

I am always in search of a good bakery. And whenever I go into a bakery, I check to see if they have cream cheese danishes (well, cream cheese anything, really). I decided I was going to venture into the pastry world by making my own cream cheese danish. After reading through a cookbook and seeing the extensive work that goes into making pastries, I had just about given up.

I happened to be thumbing through Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa at Home" when I noticed her Easy Cheese Danish recipe. The recipe called for frozen pastry sheets - the perfect solution for me! So I gathered all of the ingredients to make these danishes, and I thought they were fabulous. They have a nice hint of lemon, and I loaded the cream cheese into the pastry because that's my favorite part.

I will say that you can't really mess these up. I left the pastry sheets on the counter for close to 4 hours before getting started (even though the recommended thaw time is 40 minutes), and then I refrigerated them overnight so that I could bake them the next morning for breakfast. I was worried the pastry wouldn't puff up correctly, but I was pleasantly surprised. The recipe says to eat them warm, but I prefer them cold. Either way, they're delicious!

Easy Cheese Danish

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 T ricotta cheese (I used mascarpone)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 - 1 T grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese & sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment and cream together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold one sheet of pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10x10 inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold two opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the puff pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

Makes 8 Danish

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