Last week I had the pleasure of spending some time in lovely Madison, Wisconsin. My dear cousin lives there with his wife and three darling children, and it has been 13 years since I last visited. It was due time, for sure. We spent a lot of time at the house, but we also had some chances to check out what Madison has to offer in terms of food experiences.
A couple of friends of mine also live there and gave me an extensive list of places to try. Sadly, I was only able to check out two of those places, but one of them, La Brioche, was such a home run that I had to try my hand at one of their signature pastries – the cheese Danish.
Their cheese Danish is very straightforward, but I wanted to try something different. I scoured the Internet to see what I could find that included blueberries (because I had a HUGE container of them). I found a few, and picked the best elements of each one.
I made my own puff pastry, but I am not going to include that recipe in this post. Instead, I’ll urge you to buy a puff pastry from the freezer section of your local grocery store. Why, you ask? Because this Danish is so good, but took waaaay too long to put together. If you’re hoping to make this for a brunch or even dessert, take it easy on yourself and just buy a package of puff pastry.
The blueberry compote was clearly the shining star of this cheese Danish. I mean, the cream cheese/lemon zest/sugar mixture was lovely, but nothing says summer like juicy and delicious blueberries. Luckily, I have some left to spoon over vanilla ice cream.
If you’re so inclined, I’m sure you could add some fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or even mint or basil when you’re cooking your compote. As you all know, I love adding fresh herbs to desserts, so give it a try!
This Danish can be served warm or at room temperature, and goes great with a cup of coffee.
Braided Blueberry Cheese Danish
1 package froze puff pastry
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tsp water (for egg wash)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 small/medium lemon, zested (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Remove the pastry from package and allow to thaw on well-floured parchment paper while you prepare filling (about 30 minutes).
In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, lemon zest, sugar, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine blueberries with sugar and lemon juice. Set over medium-high heat and stir mixture until it begins to bubble. Keep an eye on it to make sure sugar doesn’t burn. When mixture begins to heat up, mash about half of the blueberries. Bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn down heat to medium and add cornstarch/water mixture. Stir until mixture thickens (think jam consistency). Remove from heat and allow to cool before using.
When pastry is thawed, lay side by side and press edges together to form a rectangle.
Spread cream cheese mixture in the center third of pastry. Top with blueberry mixture (you’ll probably have some filling leftover, which is good!). Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the outer thirds of the pastry into 3/4-inch strips and a slight diagonal. Alternating sides, fold the strips over the filling. Press to seal. Brush with egg wash mixture and sprinkle a little sugar over the top.
Transfer pastry (on parchment paper) to baking sheet and place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Then bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and lower the oven temperature to 375ºF and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
You can use the leftover blueberry filling as a topper for vanilla ice cream, in smoothies, or even on waffles or pancakes. Delicious!