I’ve had an unusual craving for Danishes lately. I’m not sure what ignited it, but I’m okay with caving to this particular hankering, especially as I don’t think, prior to coming up with this recipe, I’ve had a Danish since my pre-vegan days. Until recently, plant-based versions of this sweet, layered delight were rarely spotted in bakeries. I assumed it was because they were difficult to make without using animal ingredients, specifically butter.
Butter advocates will try to convince us that are certain desserts that just cannot (or should not) be made vegan (croissants and danishes being some of the prime examples) Danishes are made with puff pastry dough, which is created using a process called lamination – it’s multiple thin layers of dough with butter folded in between. When the dough is cooked, the butter fries the layers, giving the finished pastry its trademark puffy flaky texture. So yes, it is difficult to replicate that exact texture but vegan bakers love a challenge.
Fortunately, much of the frozen puff pastries that you can commonly find in your local grocery store is actually not made with butter but with some kind of cheaper and more preservable alternative like canola or sunflower oil. Having a pre-prepared dough makes this recipe a snap if you’re looking for a quick, slightly sweet breakfast on the go or for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Some recipes I’ve noticed, call for added sugar to be blended with the cream cheese and layer beneath the fruit mix but that seems excessive to me – adding the cream cheese directly to the fruit mix gives the desired sweetness without being overpowering.
I should also add that working with any kind of dough takes some practice and I have a long way to go with my puff pastry finesse. Don’t get caught up in making your danishes look perfect – most of the food you see in those flawless Instagram posts have been heavily modified and is likely not even edible. – the taste is what counts, and these have flavour to spare!
Ingredients (makes about a dozen danishes)
1 pint of blueberries (11 oz)
1 cup of water
1 tbsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of corn starch
1/4 cup of sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
2 x 8 oz containers of cream cheese (I used Tofutti brands)
2 x 500g packages of frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
1. In a medium saucepan, add the water, blueberries, lemon juice, corn starch, sugar, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil on high heat and then reduce to simmer. Cook until the berries start to break down and the liquid is thickened (10-15 minutes). Remove the cinnamon sticks.
2. Add the cream cheese into the fruit mixture and mix vigorously until smooth. Set aside in the fridge to cool – this is very important if you try to pour the hot mixture into the pastry, your danishes will likely end up a bit of mess.
3. Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
4. Roll out the dough – you want it to be as thin as possible as it will rise quite a bit when cooking. Cut the dough into squares about 5-6 inches wide, and dock the pastry with a fork (prick a few holes). Place about two tbsp of the cooled fruit mixture and place it in the center of each square. Carefully fold the edges of the dough over the top of the mix and crimp the edges. Dipping your fingers lightly in water will help you to shape the dough.
5. Place the pastries on the parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 3 or 4 inches in between.
6. Cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.