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Light and flakey puff pastry, resplendent with honey and cheese, embody autumn with the addition of apples in this Danish dessert recipe.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Despite being a popular pastry in Denmark, fruit Danishes or Danish pastries are actually the epicurean innovation of Austrian bakers. In Denmark, these sweetly famed sticky delights are known as Vienna Bread or wienerbrød.
An Apple Cheese Danish Dessert Recipe
Beautiful treats such as cinnamon rolls, rice pudding petit pots, and famous Danish pastry silently tempt me from behind glass displays as I stroll the open markets in Paris. There has never been a time where I did not want to eat them all.
There is absolutely nothing that I can purchase back home at my local grocery store that will rival any of this deliciousness. Vanilla cream, red wine poached fruits, and almond frangipane tarts sway the weak that pass by, unable to look away.
My favorite? Well, having eaten my way through the majority of France and its patisserie and viennoiserie, I rather think I love the Danish the best.
Do You Have What’s Needed to Bake Up This Apple Cheese Danish Recipe? Check the List!
- a sheet of puff pastry
- cream cheese
- a large egg
- a large apple, any variety or other autumnal fresh fruit
- lemon juice and lemon zest
- vanilla extract
- coarse raw sugar
How This Recipe Came About…
Would you believe me if I shared with you that I received yet another peck of apples from my farmer friend? Well, I have, but the thought of assembling yet one more double pie crust or running to the dairy for yet one more pint of French vanilla ice cream is exhausting.
I get, I get it… spring gives us fresh strawberries, so we make strawberry desserts. In the fall, we’re blessed with apples, so we make apple desserts. But I’ve put up so many apple desserts that I am almost out of brown sugar altogether.
The recipe I’m sharing today is more of a hack than a recipe, as so much by way of the ingredients is able to be changed up without worry that you’ll spoil the outcome. I feel like a lot of delicious desserts are flexible in this way, and it made me want to share it because I’ve been assembling these a lot lately.
What Kitchen Equipment Will I Need?
This one’s easy. Grab your rolling pin, a large bowl and whisk to mix with, a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpats, and a pizza cutter or small serrated knife for scoring some sticky dough.
You will also, in addition to the use of your oven, need a microwave and a microwave-safe bowl. Once the apple is sliced, it’ll zapped for just about 3 minutes in a cold water and vanilla bath to both flavor and soften.
Ready for an easy recipe? Ready to make some sweet treats? Who needs special occasions, let’s just BAKE!
How to Make This Danish Dessert Recipe?
Preparing the Apple
Believe me when I tell you that microwaved fruits hold the heat! Getting a jump start on the apple gives it some time to cool once it’s been microwaved and drained.
But first, begin by slicing an apple. It may be any variety, and you may choose to peel it or just go with it skin-on. The apple I’m using in my photos is a pretty pinkish color, so I’m choosing not to peel it.
This recipe yields six cheese Danish pastries, so figure on approximately 5 to 7 slices of apple per pastry. You’ll notice in a few of my photos that I have some ‘breaks’ in my apple slices, and this is because I felt some of my slices were too small and added to them.
As you slice, try to uniformly keep to between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch for each. Toss them into a microwave-safe bowl and give them a squeeze of half a lemon and a few scrapes of lemon zest.
Soften the Apples
Add a couple of tablespoons of vanilla to the apple slices in the bowl. As an added option, you may also add one piece of stick cinnamon to the bowl, submerged. Cover the contents with cold water and microwave on high for 3 minutes.
At the end of the microwave cycle, CAREFULLY remove the bowl and drain the apple slices. Allow them cool while you prepare the cream cheese mixture.
Mix Cream Cheese Mixture
I feel like the cheesy part of a cheese Danish is ultimately the BEST part. Since we are talking sweet cheese, to a half package (4 ounces) of cream cheese, start by adding honey.
I add about a quarter cup and then a heaping teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Use a wire whisk to work it and get things thoroughly mixed. Set it aside while you prep the pastry dough.
Cutting the Pastry Dough
One sheet of puff pastry will yield six individual Danishes, but the dough needs to be worked to get the most from a single sheet. Use a rolling pin to roll dough to where it’s an inch longer on the long side and an inch longer on the short side.
Use a pizza cutter to cut through the dough right down the middle lengthwise. Next, cut each half into three equal parts. Do not worry about perfection.
Scoring Where We Want the Pastry to Puff
This next step requires a sensitive touch. And I mean sensitive in that you need to barely apply pressure. We are scoring, not cutting all the way through.
In each square of dough, use the pizza wheel to lightly score an inside square which will result in an edge all the way around. I try to make my edge at least 1/2-inch to 3/4 because I want more edge for sprinkling coarse sugar.
Use the back of a coffee spoon or the tip of a butter knife to equally distribute and spread a blob of the cream cheese mixture inside each square and spread it from side to side, corner to corner. Again, we’re not concerned with perfection.
Arrange the Apple Slices
Preheat your oven to 400°F and have your prepared baking sheet next to your pastry. Transfer carefully each of the pastry squares to the baking sheet leaving a bit of space in between each.
By now the apples should be easier to work with as they’ve had plenty of time to cool. Begin to arrange slices atop the cheese.
I like to add between 5 and 8 slices of apple on each pastry square, and sometimes that means using the unpretty pieces, too. It’s okay to do this because they will each bake beautifully regardless once honey and coarse sugar have been added just before they hit the oven.
Coat with Egg Wash and Sugar
Use a pastry brush to egg wash the edges all the way around. I do go a bit heavy here because of the GORGEOUS golden the egg wash bakes up as.
Of course, all of the raw sugar you sprinkle on the edges helps, too. Use about a tablespoon of raw sugar on each square and coating the edges.
Bake the Danishes
Drizzle each square lightly with honey all over and pop into the preheated oven for 15 minutes, a minute or two longer if they’re not yet golden brown. Once baked, remove from the oven and place the baking sheet on a wire cooling rack. Cool the Danishes completely on the baking sheet.
What Can I Substitute for Honey?
Make a quick fruit sauce to mix with the cream cheese in lieu of the honey. There are a variety of jams that will work well including strawberry jam or raspberry jam.
Using the same 1/4-cup measure, add the jam to a medium-size saucepan over low heat and melt it. Use a tablespoon of fruit juice to thin it if necessary. Cool it slightly before adding it to the cream cheese and ground cinnamon.
Brush additional jam atop the apple slices right before popping into the oven. It’s okay to brush it on the edges, too but if going this route, wait to sprinkle the coarse sugar until after the jam.
Do I Have to Use Apples?
No, absolutely not. Any fresh fruit or stone fruit will work. Consider pears, peaches, halved and pitted cherries, or sliced strawberries for a delightfully sweet strawberry flavor.
I assembled a butter-glazed pineapple and toasted coconut Danish last year for Christmas Eve and it was a real hit, so be as creative as you like. And this isn’t just an autumn or Christmas season bake; think spring, think strawberry season, and assemble a cheese and strawberry Danish dessert if appropriate.
An Apple Cheese Danish Dessert Recipe
- 1 sheet puff pastry thawed and placed on a lightly floured work surface
- 4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons honey divided; raw honey if you are able to source it
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1 large apple any variety; peeled if desired; sliced in 1/4-inch-thick slices
- ½ small lemon juice and zest
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons coarse raw sugar
This recipe yields six cheese Danishes, so plan for 5 to 7 apple slices per Danish
- Place apple slices into a microwave-safe bowl and add the juice and zest of half a lemon. Add the vanilla to the bowl. Cover the contents with cold water and microwave on high for 3 minutes.
- CAREFULLY remove the bowl and drain the apple slices. Allow them cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl using a wire whisk, cream the softened cream cheese with the 1/4 cup of the honey and the cinnamon. Combine well. Set aside.
- Use a rolling pin to roll a sheet of puff pastry dough to where it's an inch longer on the long side and an inch longer on the short side. Use a pizza cutter to cut through the dough right down the middle lengthwise. Next, cut each half into three equal thirds.
- This next step requires a sensitive touch. And I mean sensitive in that you need to barely apply pressure. We are scoring, not cutting all the way through.
- In each square of dough, use the pizza wheel to lightly score an inside square which will result in an edge all the way around. I try to make my edge at least 1/2-inch to 3/4 because I want more ledge for sprinkling coarse sugar.
- Equally distribute and spread the cream cheese mixture inside each square and spread it from side to side, corner to corner.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F and have your prepared baking sheet next to your pastry. Transfer carefully each of the pastry squares to the baking sheet.
- Assemble between 5 and 8 slices of apple on each pastry square atop the cream cheese mixture.
- Use a pastry brush to apply the lightly beaten egg wash around the ledge of each pastry square. Use a tablespoon of raw sugar on each square, coating the ledges.
- Drizzle each square lightly with the remaining 3 tablespoons of honey and place into preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Once baked, remove from the oven and place the baking sheet on a wire cooling rack. Cool the Danishes completely on the baking sheet.
- Serve once cooled with a cup of tea, coffee, or Reisling, or as a midday dessert.
The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.
Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.