Last month, I got an offer I couldn’t resist. The Northwest Cherry Growers asked me if I would accept a shipment from them and consider writing a blog post using their cherries. Normally, I say no to offers of free product in exchange for a blog post without compensation but it was cherries – fresh from the orchard, Northwest cherries. Of course, I had to say yes and I’m so glad I did. I received almost 20 pounds of the most beautiful and sweet cherries ever. Aren’t they just gorgeous?
Now, what to do with all those cherries? As fate would have it, I had this recipe for cherry cream cheese pastries in my recipe folder and I knew it was meant to be. The original recipe called for cutting the puff pastry into squares and making individual danishes. I wanted to simplify the process and decided to make a puff pastry braid instead. The finished product looks fancy but the process is actually pretty easy.
The recipe uses store bought puff pastry and the filling is simply sweetened cream cheese and fresh cherries. I tested one version of the recipe where I tossed the cherries with flour and sugar thinking I might need some kind of thickener for the cherry filling but I found that the extra step wasn’t necessary and just made everything messier.
To make the pastry, you’re going to cut some strips down the sides of the puff pastry sheet, leaving a large gap in the middle to spread the cream cheese and pile on the fresh cherries. Then, you’re going to fold in the strips, alternating sides, to create a braid-like pattern.
Finally, bake until you have a beautiful work of art that is golden brown perfection. Last step – try to share. This won’t be easy because once you bite into the flakey pastry and taste the cream cheese filling with pops of sweet cherries, you’re going to want to keep this all to yourself but your family will love you for making this and sharing with them.
Make this soon, friends, because cherries won’t be in season forever and you’re going to want this in your life.
Note: I was sent a shipment of fresh cherries from the Northwest Cherry Growers. Besides being given product, I was not compensated in any other way for this post (unless you count all the enjoyment I got from eating said product). As always, all opinions are my own.
- 8 ounces cream cheese (regular or 1/3 less fat), softened
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 (14 ounce) package puff pastry, thawed (see Notes)
- 1 3/4 cups sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
- 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
- Powdered sugar
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, flour, almond extract and egg yolk together until smooth and spreadable. Set aside.
- Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on to a large piece of parchment paper. Along the long edges of the puff pastry sheet, cut strips about 1/3 of the way in (i.e. about 3 inches long) and 1/2-inch wide. Leaving the puff pastry on the parchment paper, transfer the pastry to a large baking sheet.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture down the center of the pastry being careful to not get cream cheese on the cut strips. Top the cream cheese mixture with chopped cherries, pushing the cherries down slightly.
- Rotate the pan so that the cut sides are on the left and right. Starting at the top, bring the cut strips into the center (at a slight angle) over the filling. Alternate left and right sides, overlapping the strips and pressing down slightly as you go (see photos in post for clarification). When all the strips have been folded in, lightly brush the entire pastry with the egg wash.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
- Let cool slightly, then dust with powdered sugar before serving.
For this recipe, I like to use an all butter puff pastry such as Dufour. The sheets are 14-1/2 x 9-3/4 inches. If you use another brand of puff pastry or you are making your own puff pastry, you may need to trim the sheet to size.
Use a pizza cutter or pastry wheel to make cutting the strips easier.
Recipe adapted from the Houston Chronicle.