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Last week I had a sudden and mighty craving for a Danish. Unfortunately, it was late at night and all of the bakeries near my home were closed. I decided to experiment with ingredients I had on hand and see if I could replicate this classic pastry. And I was extremely impressed with the result!
These easy Danish pastries use store bought puff pastry. For any you baking purists out there you can use homemade puff pastry if you want to. For me, I just usually don’t have time to make puff pastry from scratch. Plus, this is the type of treat I would make on a whim instead of planning and preparing for it ahead of time. All you need is frozen puff pastry (one whole package/two sheets), cream cheese, sugar, an egg, and vanilla extract. You can add fresh fruit or jam to your Danishes, or just leave them plain. This time I added Strawberry Mango Jam to half of my Danishes and it was delicious!
There are a couple of tricks to the recipe for these Easy Danish Pastries. First make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature (or a little warmer if possible). If your cream cheese is too cold, it will be really hard to get your pastry filling to be smooth and without lumps. It will still taste good if there are little lumps of cream cheese, but it won’t look as nice. I like leave the cream cheese in its tin packaging and place it on my oven while it is preheating. That usually provides just enough warmth to get the cream cheese to the right temperature.
I love these metal mixing bowls because they have a non-slip rubber bottom and it makes it so easy to mix without worrying about the bowl slipping all over the counter.
Another tip to help get the pastry filling to the perfect consistency is to beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until it is fluffy before you add any other ingredients. Then add the sugar first, mix well, and then mix in the egg yolk and vanilla. Also, please make sure you only use the egg yolk. I’ve accidentally used the whole egg before and it turns the filling into a runny mess…
Once your puff pastry is just thawed enough to unfold without tearing, roll out the first sheet so it is about 2″ wider and 2″ taller than it was. Then cut it into 9 equal squares. Make sure any puff pastry dough you are not currently working with is staying nice and cold in the fridge!
In just a few steps we can transform these boring squares into something fancy! Take each triangle and make two cuts parallel to the adjacent edges of the triangle and about ½” from the edge. Then unfold the triangle and refold the outer edges of the square that you just cut free. This is kind of hard to explain in writing so I’ve taken a picture showing the progression of each stage of cutting and folding the puff pastry squares.
Putt 9 of these fancy folded puff pastry pieces onto a baking parchment lined cookie sheet. Put a healthy dollop of cream cheese filling into the center of each. If you want to add fruit or jam (I highly recommend trying this because they are both delicious) make a little well in the cream cheese filling first. Speaking from sad experience, if you don’t do this the jam will get all melty in the oven and run out the sides of your pastry.
If you want to get a deep rich golden color, egg wash your Danishes before you place them in the oven. I didn’t egg wash mine because I wanted to brush them with a simple sugar syrup after they came out of the oven. Though looking back, I suppose I could have done both.
Brush with the simple sugar syrup while still warm, but not hot. You can eat them right away or save them for later. Enjoy your Easy Danish Pastries!
Easy Danish Pastries
- 8 oz. plain cream cheese (room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 package store bought puff pastry (thawed but still cold)
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400° F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Then add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat well. Set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first square of thawed puff pastry until it is square and about 2" wider and 2" taller than it was. Cut the pastry into 9 square pieces. Repeat with the second square. Keep the squares you are not currently working with in the refrigerator.
- Fold each square into a triangle and make two cuts parallel to the adjacent edges of the triangle and about ½" from the edge.
- Unfold the triangle. Take the two corners you just cut and fold them all the way across the pastry. This will make a lovely little well for our cream cheese filling.
- Place 9 of the pastries on the prepared cookie sheet. Fill the well with a generous spoonful of the cream cheese filling. If you want, you can add fruit or fruit jam to the pastries at this point. To add fruit jam, make a small well in the middle of your cream cheese filling and fill it with about a teaspoon of jam.
- Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- While the pastries are baking make the glaze. To make the glaze put the ¼ cup of water and ¼ cup of sugar into a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Brush the warm pastries with the glaze. Serve warm or cold.