Who doesn't love a cheese danish? The smooth, creamy filling is such a perfect foil to the crispy, flaky shell. The combination hits every crave-worthy taste and texture a person could want in a pastry, which is why it's easy to eat so many in one sitting that you feel you've overdosed on butter and cream cheese.
Until today! Now you can have the satisfaction of eating a few cheese danishes in one sitting and still have room to sample the other options on the brunch buffet spread.
The thing that makes these poppable bites so fantastic is the homemade puff pastry. Yes, I said homemade, but don't let that scare you — this stuff, called "rough puff," is a breeze to make. Heck, you can even finish the dough in under 30 minutes if you work quickly in a cool kitchen. Master this simple technique to impress your friends today, then keep it in your back pocket for turnovers this summer.
Mini Cheese Danishes
For the rough puff pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1/3 cup ice water
For the filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Make the pastry: Mix the 1 cup flour and salt together in a medium bowl. Cube the butter, add to the bowl of flour, and work it into the flour with your hands or a pastry blender until it has been broken into uniform pieces about the size of peas.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and drizzle in the ice water. Working quickly, fold and stir the flour into the dough. Don't worry about getting it completely combined — you'll work on that in the next few steps.
Once your dough is combined into a shaggy mass, turn it out onto a generously floured work surface. Roll it out into a rough 10x6-inch rectangle. Position the rectangle so that a short end is facing you. Fold the top third of the dough down toward you, then up over itself as you would a letter. Give the dough a quarter turn and roll it out into a 10x6-inch rectangle again, then fold it into thirds again.
Repeat this process for a total of 4 folds (you can do as many as 7, if you like). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Make the filling: Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and beat to combine; set aside.
Assemble and bake: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Whisk the egg yolk and water in a small bowl; set aside.
Roll the dough into a 12-inch square. Using a ruler and a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the pastry into 2-inch squares. Dollop a scant 1/2 teaspoon of the filling into the center of each square. Lightly brush one corner of a square with the egg wash. Fold the opposite corner into the center, fold the egg-washed corner over the top to seal, and transfer the pastry to the baking sheet. Repeat for each pastry square.
Gently brush the assembled pastries with egg wash. Freeze for 10 minutes. Bake until golden-brown, 25 to 30 minutes.