Thursday, June 12, 2014

Easy cheese danishes!

Hello everyone!  Let me just start off by admitting my deep love of puff pastry.  I consider it one of the best hidden gems in a grocery store.  It is the easiest thing to use, and the results are always amazing and impressive.  Today I had a hankering for some cheese danishes, and these are so easy to make, it’s almost embarrassing.  Nowadays, I usually make it for breakfast the morning of Christmas Eve, although every time I make it, I vow to make it more often! 

Here's what you'll need:

                             2 sheets of Puff Pastry 

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/3 C of granulated sugar
2 Large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 Tbs grated lemon zest*
1 egg beaten, with 1 Tbs water, for egg wash

First, preheat the oven to 400*, so that its waiting for you when you're ready for it, instead of you waiting on it!  When I'm ready to put something in the oven, I hate having to watch those few degrees to tick up to where I need it to be...Next, take out a large cookie sheet, and cover it with parchment paper.
So, you'll want to lay your puff pastry out onto a lightly floured counter, to let it thaw out.  It should take 30-40 minutes to thaw out enough to unfold it without it tearing at the seams (although, if this happens, it'll be fine.  I do this all of the time, and I'll show you in a minute how to fix it).

Sigh.  I do this all of the time.  I get too impatient to let the puff pastry thaw out properly, and when I go to unfold it, it cracks at the seam.  But, really, it isn't a big deal.  All you need to do, is unfold it the rest of the way, and once it is pliable, just pinch the seams back together, and proceed as directed! 

My neighbor's mom keeps chickens, and when she has leftovers, I'm lucky enough to get them!  Look at those yolks!
 Once the puff pastry has thawed out, lightly dust the top with flour, and roll it out to roughly 10x10, give or take.  It is homemade, so if you're breaking out a ruler, you're doing it wrong!  Anyway, cut one sheet of pastry into four even(ish) squares; I use a pizza cutter, but you can use a knife if that's handier.  Is that a word?  I don't care, it is now. 
So, now that the pastry is all ready, let’s work on the filling!  Cream the cream cheese and the sugar together, then gently mix in the egg yolks, salt, vanilla and lemon zest; make sure you don't whip it.  Just mix it until it just comes together.  At this point, I put mine into a zip top bag, so its easier to put it where I want, on the pastries.  

Squirt about a tablespoon and a half into each pastry.

Here is your egg wash, all ready to go!

 Fold one half of the square up, and brush with the egg wash.

 Fold the other half of the pastry over and move it to the waiting baking sheet.

 Like my fancy method of getting the parchment paper to lay flat?

Here they are!  Now, brush with the egg wash and put them into the fridge; let them chill for about 15 minutes, then put them into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, this is what you are blessed with.

 Look at all of that puffed up puffery.