I was wondering if I could apply the principal behind the dairy-free cheese danishes to delkelech. With those pastries, a dip in a lemon-vanilla syrup gives the cheese-less crescent rolls a dairy taste.
For my dairy-free delkelech, I filled puff pastry squares with frangipane–a French almond cream. I also added some black currant jam to some of the pastries. After baking, I dipped the pastries in the lemon-vanilla syrup.
Chilling in the fridge helps bring out the dairy flavor, but this combination of frangipane and pastry is so classic, it does not depend on simulating cheesiness to be delicious. (Note: some like these better warm, or at least room temperature)
My husband loved these so much, I made the recipe again, but filled some of the pastries with a Tofutti “cream cheese”-based filling.
I had lots of filling towards the end, so I turned the last eight delkelach into mini-cheesecake tarts. These tasted the most like delkelach because there was the highest ratio of filling to pastry, and the moisture from the pastry softened the puff pastry so that it was less flaky/crisp and more flaky/chewy like real danishes.
This recipe is super easy because it relies on puff pastry. And, yes, you can make cheese danishes with puff pastry. This is what the Barefoot Contessa used to do at her Hamptons store, and it is a shortcut even some old-fashioned bakers have taken. In a discussion of Mindel Appel’s recipe for delkelech (first printed in a Joan Nathan, NYT article), a Chowhound confessed: “‘I hate to tell you this, but my Hungarian mother – who passed away at 93 just a few years ago – used to make delkelekh with frozen puff pastry dough. The filling was similar to the NY Times recipe, though. I have had delkelekh very much like what was described in the article, but we all liked the puff pastry version so much better. I don’t know when she adopted this shortcut, but it didn’t seem to faze her a bit.”
Super Easy Pareve Delkelach (Cheese Danish Envelopes)
puff pastry (I used Mechel’s puff pastry squares, first I used the large squares (12 ounce package), cut in quarters to make the minis, and next I used the 36 pack of 3 1/4″ mini squares (22 ounce package), which is better)
egg wash (beaten egg, or use yolk or white leftover from making frangipane I)
3-4 ounces margarine (either amount works)
5 ounces sugar (2/3 cup)
4 ounces ground almonds (about a cup, but this is flexible, too; I used blanched, but unblanched is okay)
1 egg plus either an egg white or egg yolk (use the leftover yolk or white to glaze the pastries before baking)
1/2 ounce (15 g.) flour (about 1 1/2 Tbl., and this amount is flexible, too)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbl. lemon juice (optional, you could also use rum)
1 tsp. almond extract (optional, but if you use blanched almonds you need the extract for an almond flavor because blanched almonds have a fairly neutral taste)
Cream the margarine and sugar very very well before adding the egg and the almonds and flour. You can add the egg and then the flour/almonds or the flour/almonds and then the egg. The mixture will look a bit curdled if you add the egg first, but you can pull it together regardless. Add extracts and juice to flavor as desired. This mixture can be frozen. I had a lot leftover after making my first batch of danishes. I stuck it in the freezer and was able to use it straight from the freezer for the next batch. Use can also spread leftover frangipane on challah and bake (It is called bostock–see Leah Grossman recipe or go here or here or even here; if you are using pareve frangipane, spreading some jam between the challah and the frnagipane helps amp up the flavor, see here for a visual) for a special French treat. Frangipane is very handy in lots of recipes, but of course, with butter it is better.
Frangipane Filling II (adapted from Williams Sonoma and a technique I learned in school)
8 ounces almond paste (not marzipan!)
4 Tbl. sugar
4 ounces butter
1/3 cup flour
Crumble the almond paste in your mixing bowl. Add the sugar. Mix well until the almond paste is a very fine meal. Make sure there are no large chunks. Add the margarine and cream well until the mixture is smooth (make sure there are no chunks of unmixed margarine, these will melt and make greasy pockets in the frangipane when it is baked). Add the flour. Add the eggs. (or add the eggs and then add the flour).
I used filling I for my pastries, but I love filling II.
Pareve Cheese Filling (Adapted from a Shavuot recipe for dairy mini cheesecakes from Judy Zeidler’s The Gourmet Jewish Cook)
8 ounces Tofutti “cream cheese”
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbl. lemon juice (and lemon zest and orange zest would be nice, too; I used a drop of lemon and orange extract, but zest tastes better)
1/4 tsp. almond extract
Cream the cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and extracts and zest, if using. The original recipe was just cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla, but Tofutti needs a little more help, so I added lemon juice. The pareve filling is quite liquidy. You will need to lay the dough in muffin cups so that you can put enough filling it without it running out during baking.
Lemon Vanilla Syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
juice 1 lemon
1 Tbl. vanilla extract
Boil sugar and water until thick, about 15 minutes. The sugar syrup will be very hot, so be careful. Let the syrup cool a bit before adding the lemon and vanilla. Use the syrup a bit warm if you are pouring it over cooled pastries. You can make it ahead and use it cold over hot pastries.
If the syrup is too much of a bother, you can also dust the finished pastries with powdered sugar.
Assembling the danishes for baking:
Lay a square of defrosted puff pastry on your baking sheet, or lay it over a muffin pan. Fill the pastry with a tsp. of frangipane filling. Fold in the corners and pinch them together in the center. If you leave the pastry on a baking sheet, the pastry might leak a bit of frangipane during baking; baking the pastries in muffin pans prevents this, but you can’t bake as many at a time. For the Tofutti filling, using a muffin pan is a must because the filling is so runny. For the Tofutti filling, try to get in as much filling as you can while still being able to pinch the pastries closed. Or you could just line the muffin pans with the puff pastry, fill with cream cheese filling, and not try to pinch them closed at all. Be aware that the cheese filling will be done before the puff pastry gets very brown–the cheese filling will look puffed and cracked and you will think it is ruined–but it is not. After it cools, it pulls back together.
Brush the pastries with egg, and sprinkle over sliced almonds. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden. You can pour over syrup, or dip the pastries in syrup, or you can just dust the pastries with powdered sugar.
The yield will depend . . . if you use the 36 pack of 3″ squares, you will get that amount of danishes, with some filling possibly leftover. Excess frangipane can be frozen for later use, and you can use the cheesecake filling to make mini cheesecakes by baking them in muffin cups, lined with puff pastry (if you reserved some for this purpose) or graham cracker crumbs or a vanilla wafer cookie.
Note: the original recipe from Judy Zeidler had a yield of 4 dozen mini cheesecakes made in mini muffin pans lined with rugelach dough (2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 4 ounces butter, 8 ounces cream cheese) rolled 1/8″ thick and cut into 3″ squares. The original bake time was 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees.
Extra: Want to make real danish dough? Take a look here.