Lemony Cheese Danish

Something impressive and fool proof was needed for breakfast.

My father in law was in town for a visit, where he was a skilled sous chef in preparing the annual Tax Dinner.  For his final day at our house, the plan was to have a nice breakfast before he hit the road to return home to Washington.  In this house, we’re pretty much bowl of cereal or quick pancakes kind of people.  Fancy would mean adding bananas or chocolate chips to the pancakes.  That’s it.  My father in law on the other hand is a master of breakfasts and  has a wide range of pancakes and muffins and fruit mixes and … and… and… in his repertoire.  Yeah, this felt a bit like making a Mexican meal for Rick Bayless.

The game plan:  keep it simple, find one new fool proof yet dazzling recipe.  Thank goodness for Ina Garten, as I’ve trusted her recipes on complete faith several times and she’s never ever let me down.  Not one to read a recipe all the way through while making it first thing in the morning and wanting to rush, I noticed the words “easy” and “20 minutes” and actually paced myself for an easy 20 minutes while cooking up the sausages and eggs and slicing the strawberries.  Oh no, no, no.  The puff pastry needs to be defrosted, the filling needs to be mixed (duh),  the little danishes need to be assembled, the sheet of danishes needs to be refrigerated for 15 minutes, and THEN they are baked for 20 minutes.  Seems in my rush, I skipped over two little words before the 20 minutes:  cooking time.  Typical.

These lemony cheese danishes are truly easy, dazzling, and delicious!

Lemony Cheese Danish

adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home


8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

2 extra large egg yolks, room temperature

2 TBS ricotta cheese

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 TBS lemon zest (about 2 lemons)

2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted

1 egg beaten with 1 TBS water, for egg wash


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  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, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined.  Don’t whip or the mixture will become runny.

3.  Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until its a 10 inch by 10 inch square.  Cut the sheet into quarters.  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 diagonally to form a triangle.  Press the edges of each triangle together to form a sealed packet.  Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash.  Place the pastries on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.  Refrigerate the baking sheet of 8 danishes for 15 minutes.

4.  Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking.  Serve warm.


  • I rushed and sped up the mixer, contrary to directions.  Yes, it makes the filling runny.  A few minutes in the fridge firmed it up a bit.
  • The recipe actually has you fold the two outside corners of the puff pastry together, overlapping the corners, and adhering with a bit of the egg wash.  I was worried about the runny filling and just made triangles.
  • These passed the “teen test” with flying colors!
  • My father in law even asked for the recipe to try at home.  Success!

5 responses to “Lemony Cheese Danish

  1. This is one of my favourite recipes from Ina and a go-to whever I want something a little special for breakfast.

  2. I’ll have to try these! Puff pastry is one of my favorite “go to” ingredients for making something that seems fancier than the effort required!

  3. excellent. i think i’d rather not eat than prepare a mexican meal for mr bayless, so good for you for taking the bull by the horns and making a tasty and impressive breakfast for the breakfast master!

  4. Nice to know I’m not the only one who takes an hour for a twenty minute meal 🙂 I’ve had this bookmarked from Ina for a while. I’ll have to give it a go.

  5. My MIL swears by Ina Garten’s recipes.But she’s also an obsessive recipe reader. 😉 I’m like you and would have done exactly the same thing. As least they turned out wonderfully.

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