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Friday, June 11, 2010

Cheese Danish with Marscarpone and Puff Pastry

Officially my birthday isn't for another 17 days. But, for the past several weeks Michael has been squirreling away money for my "present." Now, I could only think of a couple things he would have in mind with that amount of cash so it wasn't a big surprise when he casually mentioned we should stop at Williams-Sonoma after we'd left A.J.'s yesterday.

When I asked why he was interested in my favorite cooking store he said they had something I wanted. So, I was onto what he had in mind - a new KitchenAid mixer. Sure enough he came clean. I told him it might be a good idea to check Costco since I'd seen them there a few months back for substantially less than Williams-Sonoma.

Late this afternoon we headed off to Costco to take a look and get my birthday present. As fate would have it they didn't have the Artisan version of the classic Kitchen Aid mixer. But, they did have the Professional version for the same price as the Artisan was listed at Williams-Sonoma. So, I ended up with not only the mixer of my dreams but also the top of the line version of that mixer!

So, this birthday is already shaping up to be fabulous - although I was informed it was up to me to use the new mixer to make my own birthday cake. Hey, who's complaining. I love to bake!

In fact, I couldn't wait to try out the new present. So this evening I whipped up some Cheese Danish. These quick and easy little treats use a Cream Cheese tart filling that tastes very much like cheesecake. This filling is then placed inside little puff pastry dough "packets" and baked to make crispy, puffy and buttery cheese danish.

The preparation only takes about 5 or 10 minutes if you use a frozen puff pastry and they're baked and ready in about 10-15 minutes. Perfect for morning coffee or brunch!

1 pkg. Puff Pastry Frozen Dough (Pepperidge Farms recommended)
8 oz. Marscarpone Cheese (or cream cheese at room temperature)
2/3 cup sour cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract, or 1 tbl. kirsch
1 egg
2 tbl. water

Thaw puff pastry in refrigerator for 6-8 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment add Marscarpone cheese and mix until softened. Add powdered sugar and continue mixing. Add vanilla extract and sour cream. Switch to whisk attachment and beat at medium speed until mixture is silky and smooth but still thick and creamy. Place in refrigerator to chill slightly while you get the pastry ready.

Remove 1 sheet and roll on floured board lightly to increase size by 1-2 inches all around. Cut 1/4" strip from edge of sheet and set strip aside. Cut remaining square into 4 equal squares.

Take egg and water and beat lightly in small bowl with fork for the egg wash. Using a pastry brush, coat pastry squares with egg wash.

Place 2 tablespoons of cheese filling in center of each pastry square. Fold each corner toward the center to form a packet. Tuck in edges carefully so filling does not leak out during baking.

Place each pastry packet seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone pad. Brush top of each pastry with egg wash, liberally. Using the strip of pastry set aside earlier, cut it into 8 pieces. Take 1 piece and roll it into a rope until it is large enough to go over the top of the packet. Place on top of packet and press lightly. Brush strip with egg wash and repeat with another strip. Forming an "X" or a cross pattern. Brush again with egg wash. Do this for each packet.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet then remove to wire racks. Repeat process with second sheet of pastry. Makes about 8 cheese danish.

Note: If you don't want to do the pastry decoration, you can simply score the top of the pastry packet with a sharp knife to create an nice effect.

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