The recipe of the day today is for vegan Danish pastries. Now a quick google search will tell you that a number of pastries fall into this category, but we will recreate that standard Danish as North American audiences know it. Our Danishes involve a mostly-traditional nut-based filling, as well as a sweet and sour lemon curd. It seemed like a daunting task before we began, but the process turned out to be easier than anticipated, and everyone loves when that happens!
Makes 1 generous cup – more than enough for 9 danishes
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 juicy lemons)
1/2 cup non-dairy cream or milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon margarine
(Semi) traditional nut filling:
Enough for about 6 danishes
1 tablespoon non-dairy margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (or both)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 sheet of puff pastry (if frozen, thaw in the fridge overnight)
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1. For the lemon curd: Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, cream, sugar, salt and turmeric in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has dissolved, slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until mixture has thickened (about eight minutes for cornstarch, and five for arrowroot). Stir in the margarine until combined, then remove from heat. To help it set faster, place it in a bowl in the fridge.
2. For the nut filling: Over medium heat, melt the margarine in a small saucepan. Stir in the nuts, maple syrup, chia and vanilla and cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently.
3. With your fillings made, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from the fridge and roll out into a 12″ by 12″ square on a well floured countertop. Cut the dough into 9 equal-sized squares.
4. Place a blob of filling (nut filling, lemon filling, or something else!) into the centre of a pastry square (one heaping tablespoon seems to be the correct amount). Grab the corners of the dough and stretch them slightly, careful not to rip the pastry. Fold the corners in diagonally so that most of the filling is covered (don’t worry about leaving a little exposed at the corners).
5. Continue filling and folding the other squares. When each pastry is ready, gently but firmly push down the centre of each Danish, stretching the dough outwards as you do. Place the Danishes on an oiled cookie sheet, brush with a little milk, and place into the oven. Allow them to bake for 20-25 minutes, checking the bottoms frequently to make sure they don’t burn. A note: about halfway through the baking time I looked at my pastries and they looked like tiny little pyramids with big poofy centres. I took a spoon and pushed down the middles before returning them to the oven.
Once the Danishes are finished, remove them from the oven and let them cool. Once they are cooled, top them as you see fit. We used a combination of the lemon curd and a simple icing made from a few tablespoons of icing sugar mixed with a small splash of milk.
Roll out the dough nice and thin on a floured surface, and cut the sheet into 9 squares. Proceed to scatter the squares haphazardly across the counter.
Start with a generous dollop of nut filling, or chilled lemon filling.
Stretch out the edges of the dough.
Fold in the corners toward the center (they don’t need to overlap as much as pictured here, some open areas of the danish end up looking nice).
Place on an oiled baking pan and indent the centers, and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden.
Let it cool and try to resist the temptation to eat it immediately.
Top with icing sugar and enjoy! Add a dollop of lemon curd to the centers of some if you’d like, for extra lemony goodness.
Obviously we cannot take credit for it, but the puff pastry turned out brilliantly. It was flaky and soft, with a slightly crisp exterior. Even with storebought pastry dough these were some of the best Danishes I have ever had. I think my favourite part was the nutty filling. It was not too sweet but the walnuts and pecans were deliciously soft. I would be interested to see the effects of adding some kind of spice to the filling, maybe nutmeg or cinnamon. Oh well, that is why there must be a ‘next time’!