Breakfast/ Dessert/ Entertaining/ Vegetarian

Cherry Danish with Puff Pastry

June 10, 2020 by Chef Molly

This easy Cherry Danish recipe features buttery puff pastry filled with sweetened cream cheese and fresh cherries. Delicious for breakfast, brunch, dessert, or a snack! 

plate of cherry danishes with puff pastry

The outdoor markets right now are filled with shiny deep red cherries, and I am here for it. I’ve been buying them on the regular, and grabbing handfuls at a time to top my breakfast yogurt or eat for an afternoon snack. Of course, when fruit is involved, I’m always thinking of ways to encase it in buttery pastry. (And if that is wrong, I don’t want to be right.) With an extra sheet of puff pastry in the fridge, I decided a puff version of a cherry danish would be just the thing. 

My version is a little lighter than some danish recipes, as I use just the fresh cherries on top of a sweet cream cheese mixture. No cherry pie filling packed with sugar, no extra flour or cornstarch. And, these are super easy to put together with store-bought puff pastry dough. Roll out the puff dough, cut into squares, and add the cheese and fruit. Then pinch together two sides of each piece of dough and bake—just heavenly warm out of the oven. Keep this recipe on hand, and you can change up the fruit with whatever comes in season later.

puff pastry, powdered sugar, egg, vanilla, cream cheese, and cherries

How do you make a Cherry Danish with Puff Pastry?

Keep puff pastry dough refrigerated until you are ready to use.

1. Rinse 6 ounces of cherries, then pat dry with a paper towel. Pit cherries, and cut in half with your fingers or a knife.

2. Next, prepare the cheese mixture by stirring together 4 ounces cream cheese, 1.5 ounces powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Note: taste your fruit to see how sweet it is. If your cherries are quite tart, you may want to add more powdered sugar to your cream cheese mixture.

small bowl of sweetened cream cheese with spoon

3. Make egg wash by whisking together one egg with a tablespoon of cold water and a pinch of salt. 

4. Now, remove 1 sheet or block of puff pastry dough from the refrigerator. Flour your counter or a large cutting board.

5. Roll out pastry dough into a square, 10.5 inches on all sides. As you roll, flip the dough over and add more flour to the board if your dough is sticking at all. Dough should be about 1/8-inch thick when done.

rolled out puff pastry dough on cutting board

6. Cut into 9 squares of 3.5 inches x 3.5 inches in size. If dough becomes too soft to work with at any point, put it back into the refrigerator until it firms up again.

rolled out puff pastry dough on cutting board cut into 9 squares

7. Place a dollop of cheese mixture (about 1 tablespoon) into the center of each pastry square.

8. Top with a few cherry halves (about 3-4), then paint a small amount of egg wash on one corner of the pastry square as you bring it up and over the opposite corner and squeeze together to seal. Don’t worry if edges become unsealed during baking—the point is just to make sure the filling stays inside the pastries as they bake. Put egg wash in the refrigerator—you will need it again later. 

puff pastry dough squares on cutting board, some folded into danishes and filled with cream cheese and cherries

9. Next, you need to chill the pastries before baking. If you have a sheet pan that will fit in your freezer, line it with parchment paper and carefully place the pastries on it before moving it into the freezer. If a sheet pan won’t fit, line a plate with parchment paper, and place the pastries on that. Freeze pastries for at least 30 minutes, until they are quite firm.

10. Preheat oven to 210 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

11. After at least 30 minutes in the freezer, place pastries a couple of inches apart on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan (if they are not already on one). Then paint all exposed pastry with egg wash using a pastry brush.

puff pastry cherry danishes on baking sheet brushed with egg wash and ready to be baked

12. Bake for 25 minutes, until pastries are cooked through and golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve, if you like. 

baked cherry cheese danishes with puff pastry on sheet pan

Ingredient Notes

  • Cherries: Fresh cherries are, of course, the star for me in this recipe, but they can be replaced with whatever fruit is in season. Try apricots or blueberries, for example. 
  • Cream Cheese: In France, Philadelphia cream cheese can be harder to find than in the United States. St Moret cheese is readily available and makes a fine substitute. It is a bit more tart than traditional American cream cheese, so you might want to add more sugar to your mixture. 
  • Puff pastry: If you want to try your hand at making your own puff pastry dough, I highly recommend Cathy Barrow’s quick puff pastry recipe. It’s easy to do, and is even more delicious than store-bought. If you want to buy puff pastry dough in France, look for pâte feuilletée—the all-butter (pur beurre) version highly recommended. Picard sells its pâte feuilletée in bricks rather than rolled out rounds, perfect for this recipe. 

Can you make these danishes in advance?

Yes, these danishes are great to make in advance since you need to chill them before baking anyway. Freeze them on a plate or sheet pan in the freezer until they are quite solid. Then you can move them into a freezer-safe ziplock bag or other freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 2 months. When you are ready to bake, remove from the freezer and place on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. (You do not need to defrost them first.) Then brush all exposed pastry with egg wash before baking. 

How long can I store cherry danishes after they are baked?

Since these cherry danishes have a cheese filling, you should store them in the refrigerator. They will last 3-4 days in the fridge. Or, you can put them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. For best results, reheat pastries in a 375-degree oven when you’re ready to serve. 

plate of cherry danishes next to fork and blue towel, with sieve and colander of cherries in background

What is a Danish pastry?

A Danish pastry, or just Danish for short, is a sweet pastry that originated with Austrian bakers but became famous in Danish preparations. Traditional Danish dough uses yeast for leavening and includes flour, butter, milk, eggs, and sugar. Like puff pastry dough, danish dough is rolled out, covered with butter, and then folded again and again before rolled out again, filled, and baked. Danish pastries can be topped with fruit, chocolate, icing or nuts. Typical stuffings include jam, custard, dried or fresh fruit, and nuts. In the U.S., they often appear with sweet cream cheese and fruit on top. 

What are the benefits of eating cherries?

Did you know that cherries are one of the healthiest foods you can eat? Cherries contain high amounts of fiber, Vitamin C, and potassium. They are a good source of antioxidants, which have been shown to help fight diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. They have a lower glycemic index than many fruits, which means that they can help protect against and manage diabetes. 

When are cherries in season? 

Sweet cherries are in season from May to August, depending on what part of the world you live in. Sour cherries, on the other hand, have a much shorter season. You can usually only find sour cherries for a week or two, sometime between mid-June and August. Since sweet and sour cherries do not keep for very long after harvesting, enjoy them while you can! Of course, if you’d like to freeze some to have in the winter months, you can wash and pit them, then seal in an airtight freezer bag. 

What else can I do with fresh cherries?

Cherries, of course, can be eaten out of hand as a delicious snack, but there are other ways to make the most out of these superfood berries. 

  • Top yogurt with cherries and a handful of granola, like this Almond, Pecan, and Pumpkin Seed Granola
  • Make a parfait layering fresh cherries with yogurt or mascarpone whipped cream and crumbled cookies. See Strawberry Parfait with Mascarpone Cream and Mango Coconut Yogurt Parfait for inspiration
  • Cook down a bunch of pitted cherries and some sugar to make a cherry compote—delicious on oatmeal or ice cream or chia pudding
  • Freeze extras to use later in a smoothie like this Chia Seed Cherry Smoothie
  • Include them in a fruit salad with melon and kiwi, or whatever fruits you choose
  • Make cherry salsa with fresh herbs to top slices of pork tenderloin or even fish tacos
  • Use fresh cherries to make cherry pie or a cherry crumble (see this Peach Blueberry Crisp for ideas!)

How do I quickly defrost frozen puff pastry?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve carefully prepped a recipe’s ingredients and forgotten to defrost my puff pastry in advance. Luckily, puff pastry defrosts quickly. If you have several hours, the safest way to defrost your puff pastry is in the refrigerator. However, if you are short on time, I give you leave to put that puff pastry onto your lightly floured counter at room temperature. Turn it over at least once during the defrosting process. Check it every 5-10 minutes to see how it’s coming along.

The key to working with puff pastry is not to let it become too soft. Soft puff is difficult to roll, and the butter within the dough begins to melt. (You want that butter not to melt until it hits the high heat of your oven, where it will steam and create all those delicious buttery layers.) The good news is that there is an easy fix if you have left your puff pastry out on the counter too long. Just pop it into the fridge until it is cold and carry on. 

What else can I make with puff pastry? 

Puff pastry is fantastic for both sweet and savory recipes. You can roll it out, cover in parmesan cheese, cut and twirl each slice before baking—instant cheese straws. For a party appetizer or fun main course, try using puff pastry in this delicious Antipasto Stromboli recipe by Cathy Barrow. You can use it to top a pot pie, or slice and fold into savory or sweet palmiers. It’s a showstopper in this Salmon Wellington. For another delicious dessert, try my Puff Pastry Cinnamon Rolls with Apple—delicious and so easy. 

close up of cherry danish with cream cheese filling
plate of cherry danishes with puff pastry

Cherry Danish with Puff Pastry

Yield: Makes 9 pastries
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This easy Cherry Danish recipe features buttery puff pastry filled with sweetened cream cheese and fresh cherries. Delicious for breakfast, dessert, or snack!

Ingredients

  • 6 oz cherries
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1.5 oz powdered sugar, plus extra to garnish
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  • 1 sheet (8.8 oz) frozen puff pastry, thawed

Instructions

    1. Rinse cherries, then pat dry with a paper towel.
    2. Pit cherries, and cut in half with your fingers or a knife.
    3. Next, prepare the cheese mixture by stirring together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Note: taste your fruit to see how sweet it is. If your cherries are quite tart, you may want to add more powdered sugar to your cream cheese mixture.
    4. Make egg wash by whisking together one egg with a tablespoon of cold water and a pinch of salt.
    5. Remove puff pastry dough from the refrigerator. Flour your counter or a large cutting board.
    6. Roll out pastry dough into a square, 10.5 inches on all sides. As you roll, flip the dough over and add more flour to the board if your dough is sticking at all. Dough should be about 1/8-inch thick when done.
    7. Cut into 9 squares of 3.5 inches x 3.5 inches in size. If dough becomes too soft to work with at any point, put it back into the refrigerator until it firms up again.
    8. Place a dollop of cheese mixture (about 1 tablespoon) into the center of each pastry square.
    9. Top with a few cherry halves (about 3-4), then paint a small amount of egg wash on one corner of the pastry square as you bring it up and over the opposite corner and squeeze together tightly to seal. Don’t worry if edges become unsealed during baking—the point is just to make sure the filling stays inside the pastries as they bake. Put egg wash in the refrigerator—you will need it again later.
    10. Next, you need to chill the pastries before baking. If you have a sheet pan that will fit in your freezer, line it with parchment paper and carefully place the pastries on it before moving it into the freezer. If a sheet pan won’t fit, line a plate with parchment paper, and place the pastries on that. Freeze pastries for at least 30 minutes, until they are quite firm.
    11. Preheat oven to 210 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit. After at least 30 minutes in the freezer, place pastries a couple of inches apart on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan (if they are not already on one).
    12. Then paint all exposed pastry with egg wash using a pastry brush.
    13. Bake for 25 minutes, until pastries are cooked through and golden brown.
    14. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve, if you like.

Notes

  • Keep puff pastry dough refrigerated until you are ready to use.
  • Since these cherry danishes have a cheese filling, you should store them in the refrigerator. They will last 3-4 days in the fridge. Or, you can put them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. For best results, reheat pastries in a 375-degree oven when you’re ready to serve.
  • If you are in France and cannot find Philadelphia cream cheese or similar, St Moret is a French brand that works quite well. It is a bit more tart than traditional American cream cheese, so you might want to add more sugar to your mixture.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 244Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 143mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Jeff the Chef
    June 11, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    I love cherry pastries. They’re one of my favorites. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      Chef Molly
      June 16, 2020 at 9:00 am

      Anytime! Cherry pastries are definitely the best. 🙂

  • Reply
    Teresa Garza
    June 14, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    Thank you for the recipe! What a good find. I’m ready for another similar gem, please!

    • Reply
      Chef Molly
      June 16, 2020 at 9:01 am

      Stay tuned! 🙂 Hope you enjoy making these!

  • Reply
    Alex
    June 16, 2020 at 11:37 am

    I love a good pastry sweet treat! These cherry danish look wonderful 🙂

    • Reply
      Chef Molly
      June 18, 2020 at 11:30 am

      Thanks! Fruit plus pastry for the win every time!

  • Reply
    Sara
    June 22, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Made these this morning and they’re excellent. They’re the easiest pastries to make. Followed the recipe exactly. Next time I will riff a little and use different fruits. And thanks for the calorie info (I think!).

    • Reply
      Chef Molly
      June 26, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      Thanks so much for posting, Sara! You made my day. 😊 So glad you enjoyed the recipe, and have fun experimenting with different fruits–I bet they’ll all be delicious!

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