I loved going to my OB appointments. One, my OB was the nicest and most professional doctor I have ever met. Two, the hospital offered fresh pastries every single time we went. So, after my appointments, Binks and I would grab a coffee and pastry downstairs. Luckily, my appointments became more frequent towards the end of my pregnancy.
After I delivered, I was very sad that I wouldn’t see my OB anymore. He shared the most important part of my life with us and then, just like that, he was gone. I remember wishing he could be Isaiah’s pediatrician. Not possible.
After my delivery, holding that danish, I surprised myself at how much I would miss these danishes. Paired with a dark roast coffee, the flaky pastry paired with sweet cherries and a hint of almond became a highlight to the day. I wished I could repeat this experience as often as I wanted. Quite possible.
Turns out, as with most things, the homemade version is way better. Using fresh cherries and controlling the sugar, you can get a result that highlights the fresh cherries without being overly sweet. Feel free to use fresh cherries, but I used frozen cherries because I had it on hand.
Cherry Almond Cream Cheese Danish Braid
- 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
Cream cheese filling:
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 2 cups of frozen or fresh cherries (keep juice if frozen)
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar*
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp milk, plus more as needed
- 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Prepare cream cheese filling: Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and almond extract. Set aside.
- Prepare cherry filling: In a saucepan, over medium heat, add cherries, water, juice, sugar, and cornstarch, and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to low and stir in almond extract. Mix over low heat until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and cool.
- Roll puff pastry into a thin 12 x 12 square. I roll to about 1/4 inch thick.
- Evenly spread cream cheese mixture down the middle third of the pastry. Place cherry filling on top.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut the outer third edges diagonally, spaced about an inch apart. Then, criss-cross the cut edges to form braid.
- Place onto parchment paper and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes., rotate halfway during baking.
- While baking prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and milk together until smooth. Thin the glaze to your desired consistency. Brush the glaze onto the danish while it’s still hot.
- Serve warm.
When I first started dating Binks, around the holiday season six years ago, I made him a care package filled with goodies. As I had just met him there was no meaning for the packaged goods, other than being delicious and wanting to impress him with deliciousness. It worked. Six years and a baby later, I can tell you that he still remembers that package.
The one treat that impressed me the most was toffee. Considering that working with melting and browning sugar perfectly can be temperamental, this recipe was really forgiving and workable.
Toffee is a staple during the holidays, but considering the history of this simple candy, it means that much more. Without question, Binks always brings up his first bite of the toffee after opening the package.
Now, to save myself from eating the whole batch, I package it away as edible gifts for friends.
Chocolate Almond Toffee
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips)
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- Before beginning, line a cookie sheet with foil. Cover everything. I’m ultra-paranoid about candy sticking to the pan so I double wrapped the pan.
- Over medium-high heat, in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and salt. Mix constantly. (Keep the vanilla extract handy.)
- Once melted, reduce the heat to medium and stir the mixture continuously until you get it to a boil. It should be a smooth boil – not a rolling boil. If it’s a rolling boil, then reduce the heat more.
- If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you want to stir until you get the mixture to look like the color of a raw almond, a deep amber. It’s completely normal in this process for the mixture to become gelatinous and mesh together. Just remember to keep stirring. It will get to the amber/almond stage. Be patient. Another way to test if the mixture is done is to take a bit of the sugar mixture and drop into ice-cold water. It should be brittle when it hits the water.
- If you have a candy thermometer, the temperature should be 290-300 degrees.
- Once the mixture reaches the temperature, remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
- Pour the mixture into the pan and it should naturally spread to a good thickness. I like for it to be 1/4 inch thick. If not, use a spatula to spread more. Don’t worry about it being perfect.
- Once you are done with the sugar mixture, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. The chocolate will melt so take a spatula and spread the chocolate across the toffee mixture.
- Sprinkle the almonds over the chocolate, and press the looser almonds slightly into the chocolate to make sure it sticks.
- Cool the toffee in the fridge until completely cooled.
- Once cooled, break apart into shards. Store in an airtight container.