An easy homemade cheese danish that is 4 points plus per danish? Yup....it's true. This is a recipe that I have been making for a few years now. It's my youngest son's very favorite. The original recipe is from one of my very favorite celebrity chef's...Ina Garten and can be found in her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa at Home. I think I own most of her cookbooks. I really love her simple style....good ingredients = good food. I've lightened her recipe by using low fat cheeses, reducing the amount of egg yolks in the cheese mixture ( which doesn't seem to bother either the texture nor the taste ) and by making the danishes a bit smaller per serving. Even with the size being smaller, this still, I think, is a very generously sized pastry.
I decided to cut the puff pastry sheets into 9 pieces, instead of the 4 pieces called for in the original recipe. This sized puff pastry square comes in at only 3 points plus each without any filling. Wow!
I then decided to fill half with just the plain cheese mixture and add a 1/2 tsp. of apricot jam to the other half. It was a nice flavor combo! Be sure to line your baking sheets with either parchment, non stick foil, or as I used here, a silpat. LOVE my silpat!
When folding over the tips, try to stretch them and tuck them underneath if you can. I didn't do this, and had quite a few of them open up for me during baking. If you can tuck the tips under the danish, you have less of a chance of them opening. If they open, they won't be as pretty, but they will still be delicious!
These are best enjoyed warm right from the oven...but they are also good once they cool too. How do they keep? I have no idea. They have never lasted more than a few hours around my house! lol
Easy Cheese Danish
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Servings - 18 Serving size - 1 danish Points Plus per serving - 4 point+
( Nutritional information for plain cheese danish ) Calories - 156.5 Total Fat - 9.6g, Carb. - 13.6g, Protein - 3.5g, Fiber - 0.2g
1 (17.3 oz.) pkg. frozen puff pastry, defrosted ( I used Pepperidge Farm )
8 oz. 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 TBS. low-fat ricotta cheese
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tps. kosher salt
zest of one lemon
1 egg, beaten w/ TBS. water for egg wash
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment, non stick foil or silpats.
2. Place cream cheese and granulated sugar in large bowl and beat with electric mixer until smooth. With mixer on low, add in yolk, ricotta, vanilla extract, and salt and mix until just combined. Fold in lemon zest with rubber spatula. ( don't use mixer, the zest will stick to the beaters )
3. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured work surface. ( I used waxed paper ) Roll the pasty slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's roughly a 10" x 10" square. Cut the sheet into 9 pieces with a sharp knife. Transfer squares to pan. Place a 1/2 TBS of cheese mixture in the middle of each square. With pastry brush ( or I just use my finger tips ) brush the border of each danish with egg wash and fold two opposite corners together at center and try to stretch tip under pastry, brushing and overlapping so they firmly stick. Brush the tops of the pastries with egg wash. Repeat with remaining puff pastry sheet and filling. ( You may have extra filling leftover )
4. Put baking sheets into refrigerator for 15 minutes. Then, bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed. Serve warm.
I really cannot tell you how wonderful I think these are! The possibilities for flavor combos are endless too...with all the wonderful fruit spreads available. The lemon zest in them gives them that little extra thing that makes them super special, I think. These are perfect for a lazy Sunday morning brunch ( which is usually when we enjoy them ) or an afternoon treat with a cup of coffee or tea. I can't help it....I love flaky puff pastry! Do you like pastry items?