You don’t have to hit the bakery to eat sweet, creamy Danish. The delicate pastries are actually super-easy to make at home, if you know a secret. While making real Danish dough from scratch is a timely undertaking, a roll of frozen puff pastry is the key to churning out a batch of the flakey pastries in just about an hour from start to finish.
These strawberry-rose Danish make for a delightfully fragrant and unique filling, but if you’re not feeling the homemade fruit compote, a jar of store or farmer’s market-bought preserves will work in a pinch. Peach, apricot, and raspberry would work wonders, as would a smear of bright yellow lemon curd.
Strawberry-Rose Cream Cheese Danishes
Photo by Time Inc. Video Studio
3 tablespoons honey
1 pound strawberries, stemmed and halved lengthwise
Pinch kosher salt
2 long strips lemon zest (use a vegetable peeler)
¾ teaspoon rosewater
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg yolk
1 14-ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight (or at least 2 to 3 hours) in the refrigerator
Splash water or milk
How to Make It
To make the strawberry-rosewater filling, combine the honey, half the strawberries, strips of zest, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat about 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the strawberries have become a fairly smooth sauce. Add the rest of the strawberries and simmer gently about 5 minutes, until softened but still holding their shape. Remove from the heat, stir in the rosewater, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
To make the cream cheese filling, beat together the cream cheese and the egg yolk. Set aside.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unfold the puff pastry and cut it into 8 equal pieces on a clean work surface. Carefully set 7 of the 8 pieces on a dish and keep them in the fridge while you work with the first one. The colder you can keep your puff pastry before it bakes, the better—you don’t want the butter in it to melt while you’re working it.
Roll the first piece of puff pastry into an approximately 4-x-9-inch rectangle on a sheet of parchment. Use a 4-inch-wide cookie cutter, bowl, or ramekin as a stencil for the danishes; you will be able to get two danishes out of each eighth of pastry. Use a small sharp knife to cut out the circles and set them on the parchment-lined sheet trays. Repeat, working as quickly as possible, until the first baking sheet is full, leaving about an inch between circles.
Lightly score a circle ⅓ inch in from the edge of each pastry circle. Dollop a scant tablespoon of cream cheese filling into the center of each pastry circle. Put the entire tray into the freezer for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400°F and whisk together the egg and and water with a fork.
Remove the very cold pastries from the freezer and brush the edges lightly with egg wash. Spoon a very heaping teaspoon or so of strawberry filling into the center, on top of the cream cheese. Bake the pastries 15 minutes at 400°F, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake 10 minutes more, until the pastries are deeply golden. Remove the pastries to a wire rack and let cool. Repeat the above process until all of the dough has been used.