Monday, November 15, 2010

Almond Pastries

I had a hankering for a cheese danish the other night. Well no, first it was a craving for almond-filled croissants, croissants aux amandes, but then later on, I'd moved on to drooling after a good old cheese danish when the thought hit me: Why not combine them?!

So, practically the first thing I did this morning was take out my box of puff pastry from the freezer and let that last sheet of pastry thaw out. Then I took a look at what I had in the fridge that could simulate a cheese danish filling. A little cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, some ricotta, almond paste and an egg yolk formed the base of it. I added orange zest and almond extract to round it out, and finished it off with a lovely egg wash to give it a sheen.

Going into the oven, they were kind of a mess, I'll be honest. The crimped-together edges were not the least bit pretty and I wondered if I'd have anything photograph-worthy. I thought if the filling turned out ok, I could  troubleshoot the presentation the next time I made them, but to my surprise, when they came out of the oven, they were gorgeous, attractively puffed-up and golden brown.

The final test, then, would be how they tasted.

Sublime. The texture was just right, smooth and creamy, and the orange and almond flavors worked nicely with one another. It is strongly reminiscent of almond without being too strong.

Almond pastry

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 T ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 T almond paste
  • 1/2 t pure almond extract
  • 2 t grated orange zest 
  • 1 sheet  frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg beaten, for egg wash
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out with a rolling pin until it's a 12 by 8-inch rectangle. 
  3. Place the cream cheese and confectioner's sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth.
  4. With the mixer still on low, add the ricotta and crumble in the almond paste and let the mixer combine them well.
  5. Then add the almond extract, orange zest and egg yolk and mix on low speed until just combined.
  6. Cut the sheet of puff pastry into eight rectangles with a sharp knife.
  7. Place one heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of 4 of the rectangles.
  8. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and then cover it with a free pastry rectangle, pinching the edges together so that they stick together.
  9. Brush the top of the pastries with the egg wash.
  10. Place the pastries on the sheet pan.
  11. Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

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