By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: December 8, 2018 | 3:45 p.m.
I have always loved a good Danish since first discovering them back in… well, quite awhile ago. But so often when you buy them in a grocery store, they’re just dry and tasteless. Well, after my success last week with “The Trifle” I decided why not just go ahead and play with another little experiment? And that’s how I ended up making my own Easy Mini Danish Pastries with the puff pastry I’ve had in the freezer ever since my sister insisted that “It’s SO easy to work with. Everyone will love it!” And these little things really are very simple to make, and positively scrumptious. With a couple of tips I learned while making them, you can have your first batch come out looking like you’ve been making them for years. And if you already know all about frozen puff pastry, bet you’ll still love this recipe.
Once your squares are cut and filled, it’s a simple matter to fold over the pastry and brush with egg wash.
Let me just say that settling on this one recipe was the part that was NOT simple. There are so many variations on sizes, shapes, and fillings for this magical, buttery, layered pastry that just the search had me practically drooling on my computer. And my sister had told me about some special things that he had made with gourmet chocolates and other things that she can pick up anywhere in NYC and here, well, I can’t.
So I was looking for something that anyone anywhere could put together with only a few common ingredients. These sounded perfect, and with Christmas just around the corner. I couldn’t wait to use the beautiful red homemade tart cherry preserves that my one brother and SIL make from the trees growing in their yard and the lovely green pepper jelly that my other sister makes. I was mentally picturing a platter that would be a vision of edible Christmas joy.
While my pastry thawed in the fridge, I got out the eggs, sugar, flour, cream cheese and vanilla and prepare to create magic. I quickly whipped up the cream cheese filling, rolled out the pastry from the 9×9 inch squares as it comes to the specified 12×12 inches – easy peasy! I cut the four by four squares – not perfect, but not that bad. Then, as I opened the fridge, I suddenly remembered that I already had finished the cherry preserves except for one lonely teaspoonful in the bottom of the jar. And to add insult to injury, I discovered that it had been so long since I opened the pepper jelly (I hid it from myself!) that it had turned back to sugar. Now what!?
With a bit more attention to detail during assembly this would make a lovely breakfast – or holiday party – tray!
Well, I dug into the “special” shelf of saved “things I’ll have one day” and discovered that I had some commercial red pepper jelly and way in the back there was a jar of apple butter. Hmmmm… So, grabbed that and some raspberry jam out of the fridge and got busy making up a few of each. I even dug down to the bottom of that jar of my sister’s green jelly and salvaged enough to make a couple with that. I put a nice dollop of the cream cheese filling on each square. That’s when I made the decision to go with the “if a little’s good, won’t a lot be great?” measurement on the preserves. Big mistake. The squares closed up ok around it, and I used plenty of the egg wash to seal them together and make them brown, stuck them in the oven, and crossed my fingers for 15 minutes.
As you’ll see by the pictures, some definitely worked better than others, but every single one was overfilled to the point that the filling kind of oozed out both ends. They tasted fantastic. But as for looks, well, they weren’t horrible, but they certainly weren’t the beauties I’d planned on either. The pepper jelly ones – both the homemade and the commercial – tasted good, but were a little… flat… probably from the higher liquid content of the jelly vs. preserves. The raspberry ones, which I had most looked forward to eating tasted ok, but they just opened flat out – in spite of being well-sealed. The biggest surprise? The apple butter ones! They “behaved” the best while baking, and actually turned out to be pretty tasty.
And now you can make wonderful Danish Pastries – much better than you’d find in a grocery store – in less time than it takes to go buy them!
Anyway, now you know what to do – and what not to do – to make up your own mini Danish pastries! Just grab yourself a box of good quality/brand frozen puff pastry, pick your favorite preserves or jams (or jellies, if you’re feeling brave) and have some fun! These are about four and a half inches long, so for a party you might want to size them way down, but for brunch or an afternoon snack, they’re the perfect sizet! And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to try some experiments with those chocolate ones… or some of the prettily shaped other treats that this puffed pastry apparently is made for preparing. And I’ll tell you one more thing. This may have been my first puffed pastry fling, but it will not be my last. In fact, I have now added “frozen puff pastry” to my short list of “absolutely must always have on hand” items. Bet you do, too. Enjoy!
Mini Danish Pastries
- 1 package (8 ounces) softened cream cheese
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 package (17.3 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam or jam of choice*
- Preheat oven to 425°. Beat first four ingredients until smooth; beat in 1 egg yolk.
Mix water and remaining egg yolk and set aside. On a lightly floured surface, unfold each sheet of puff pastry; roll into a 12-in. square. Cut each into nine 4-in. squares and transfer them to parchment-lined baking sheets.
Top each square with 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture and 1 rounded (NOT heaping) teaspoon jam. Bring two opposite corners of each pastry together over filling, slightly overlapping, and seal with yolk mixture. Brush tops with remaining yolk mixture.
Bake until golden brown, 14-16 minutes. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.
* For the holidays, try filling half your squares with red pepper jelly and half with green. Beautiful – and so tasty!
Look for Queenie Cooks weekly for recipes that are generally simple to prepare, require relatively few (and easy to find) ingredients, and usually budget friendly as well. We all have to eat. Let’s have some FUN with it!