Walking into a lovely, sparkling clean patisserie is one of life's greatest pleasures, don't you think? It's as if all the sweetness of life is laid out under glass just waiting for you to take your pick of the choicest, most perfect dream. For me, a layered Danish is always so tempting. The pastry cream that sits as the base to whatever seasonal fruit is at its peak is such a soft and smooth taste treat. Add flaky puff pastry crust and that ubiquitous sugar glaze and it's a sealed deal for me!
This Danish is absolutely perfect ... our prune plums supply the seasonal fruit, an easy pastry cream made with cream cheese, and egg yolk and the usual sweetening and binding agents, a box of prepared puff pastry crust, and toasted almond slivers tucked beneath a sugar glaze (so they stay put on the Danish top). Makes for a gorgeous dessert or breakfast treat. Add coffee and enjoy ...
This recipe makes two Danish pastries that measure about twelve inches long. Begin by making the pastry cream and setting it aside to let the flavors work a bit.
Easy Pastry Cream
1 - 8oz. brick of cream cheese
4 oz. granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk (reserve egg white for glazing the pastry before baking)
1 tbsp. flour
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
Whip the cream cheese, sugar and salt until fluffy. Add the egg yolk, flour, vanilla extract and lemon juice and continue whipping until smooth and light. Wipe down the bowl edges and whip again to ensure no lumps. Turn in the zest by using a spoon. Set aside while you peel the prune plums.
To make the Danish:
1 box frozen puff pastry
1 recipe pastry cream
12 prune plums, peeled and pitted, sliced into long slivers
1/2 c. blanched and slivered almonds
easy sugar glaze - 1 c. confectioner's sugar, lemon juice, milk, vanilla extract
Remove a box of puff pastry from the freezer and let it thaw for about 30 minutes in the open air. I remove the pastry and pry the two sheet bundles apart, set them on a clean rolling surface and leave them there to soften.
Peel and pit the plums and slice them into long slivers. Set in a bowl and set aside with the pastry cream. I used about a dozen prune plums, as they are small - about the size of a large egg. That made six plums per Danish.
Sprinkle a rolling surface with a bit of flour. Unfold one pastry sheet and layer it open so that the oblong folds are up/down in front of you. Use a rolling pin to roll the sheet to about one foot length. Seal any small tears at the folds.
Place half the pastry cream down the center panel of the Danish, leaving a bit of space at top and bottom so you can seal the Danish. Place half the slivered plum on top of the pastry cream.
Use a sharp knife to slit the two side panels of the pastry at angles almost up to the folds. Leaving the end pastry slits for sealing either end of the Danish, begin folding the pastry slits up and over the filling. Fold one side and then the other so that the pastry slits overlap and for a kind of 'shingle' pattern. Then, fold the end pieces up and pinch them with the very ends to seal the pastry top and bottom. Using a palette knife or two spatulas, gently transfer the Danish to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Construct the second Danish . Use the reserved egg white to brush the Danish tops thoroughly with egg glaze. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden and the pastry cream is just bubbling at the slits.
While the Danish bakes, toast the almond slivers and set aside. Make a simple glaze with confectioner's sugar, milk, and a bit of lemon juice and vanilla. When the Danish is almost cool, sprinkle the almonds on the top and in the nooks and crannies. Then, drizzle the glaze generously over top. Slice in two-inch slices on the diagonal and serve warm with a rich dark coffee or piping hot tea. Enjoy!