After high school graduation, as with most young, burgeoning adults, my cousin and I went our separate ways. My cousin moved to New England with her Mom and I went off to college. It was to be expected, though we didn’t expect it, “home” would never be the same. We had experienced our whole lives there together. Sometimes I thought, can I ever go “home” again?
The short and simple of it is yes, in flashes. Three years after high school graduation, I was in New England sitting in a swivel barber chair. In the background, Madonna singing ”Holiday” from radio speakers. The familiar smell of hairspray heating up under the twist of a hot curling iron hangs in the air like the fond memories of our Grandma’s Beauty Shop. My cousin had followed in my Grandma’s footsteps and become a hair stylist. On this day, I was there as her Maid of Honor. I was a junior in college and I had mustered up just enough money for a plane ticket and a dress. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Though the surroundings were different, I couldn’t help but reminisce back to our childhood, fixing each other’s hair and painting each other’s nails. It was bittersweet. After her ceremony, she was glowing beautifully in her wedding gown and I knew in that moment that it wasn’t her that I should be worried about, but what was going to happen to me now that I felt I needed to step aside and let go.
The following recipe is reminiscent of the croissants and danishes that my cousin served while we getting our hair styled for the wedding.
Fruit and Cheese Danish
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature (save egg whites)
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese or fromage blanc
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
egg whites beaten with 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon sugar, for egg wash
1/4 cup strawberry preserves
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta/ fromage blanc, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don’t whip!
Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.
Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown.
For fruit pastries, press down center of hot pastry, and place a teaspoon of preserve of choice.
Once pastries have cooled, mix together the powdered sugar and milk and drizzle on top.