Nectarine Custard Tart

A nectarine is a variant of a peach …. one genetic step away and fuzz-less. White nectarines were the only kind available up until 1942, when a white one was crossed with a peach resulting in a yellow/red nectarine.

Just like peaches, both have similar sugar levels. However, white nectarines taste sweeter because they have less acid than the yellow varieties. Probably the most reliable way to pick a good-tasting nectarine is by its strong, sweet aroma. Traditional peach pies and cobblers can easily be interchanged with nectarines. Their firmer flesh softens when cooked but still holds its shape and leaving the skin on not only saves time but improves the flavor.

When nectarines are in season, I hate to miss out on the chance to incorporate them into whatever I can. To avoid getting into any long detailed procedures today, I’m going with this custard tart. It meets all requirements …. pre-fab pastry, egg-less custard and some of those wonderful nectarines, not to mention the bonus of how pretty it looks.

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Nectarine Custard Pie
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut six 1-inch wide strips of dough from the sheet of puff pastry (best to cut one from the top, one from the bottom & four from the side). Place a large (9 x 2-inch) pie plate on the uncut area of dough, trace a circle around it with a knife. Place the round piece of dough in the pie plate. Place in refrigerator until ready to assemble & bake.
  2. In a saucepan, whisk together milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt & vanilla. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is hot, lower the heat to medium-low to prevent the bottom from burning. Continue cooking until mixture thickens. Remove from heat & cool. When cooled, spread the pudding over puff pastry using a spoon to smooth it out.
  3. Halve nectarines, remove the pits & cut in even slices. Place the nectarine slices in the pudding cream, starting at outer edge, slightly overlapping, & working your way in.
  4. Take the 6 strips of dough from beginning & lay them in between the nectarine ring layers until the design is complete. Take the last dough strip, roll it up & place it directly in the center of the pie dish.
  5. Brush the puff pastry with egg wash. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden. If you wish, brush apricot preserve over tart while it is still warm.

Honey Roasted Peaches

August is well-known for being the Sunday of Summer. Peaches are essentially summer in a juicy fruit, and this is the ultimate summer pudding. A glorious combo of fresh peaches, buttery honey sauce, topped with cool marscapone cream and toasted almonds.

There really isn’t anything better than a perfectly ripe, juicy peach. Sweet, messy, glorious, …. the juices dripping down your arm as you reach up to take a bite, then dripping down your chin!

Peaches are very versatile when it comes to the culinary arts. They can be grilled, baked, broiled, sauteed, blended or served au naturel. With just a couple of spices, peaches can go from their naturally sweet state to savory.

This dessert makes the most of the brief peach season.

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Honey Roasted Peaches
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Slice peaches in half & remove pits. Place the halves in a baking dish & top each with 1 Tbsp of butter. Drizzle honey over the top, using amount you personally prefer. Place them in the oven for about 20 minutes until bronzed & bubbling but not burnt.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together marscapone, cream & vanilla. Refrigerate until needed. Toast almond slices in a dry frying pan, stirring often , taking care not to let them burn.
  4. Remove the peaches from the oven & place on 4 serving plates. Spoon some of the sauce from the pan over the top, along with some marscapone cream. Sprinkle with toasted almonds.
Recipe Notes
  • For a casual dessert, its probably good to go with 2 halves per person. For dinner party guests, 1 half is good & looks a bit more, should we say, 'refined'.

Rhubarb Parfaits w/ Hazelnuts & White Chocolate

I realize this is the third rhubarb recipe I have posted this season but who’s counting?! I actually adapted this idea from a trifle recipe. Although both parfaits and trifles are aesthetically pleasing desserts, they are not the same.

The word ‘trifle’ means something of little consequence or significance. In food terms, its anything but! A trifle is a custard and/or cream layered with fruit, placed over cake, that has been marinated in brandy or liqueur. Trifles are traditionally made in a large, deep glass bowl so you can see all the layers.

The French word ‘parfait’ means perfect and was originally made with layers of frozen custard, served in a tall glass. Currently, parfaits can simply have a yogurt base and topped with granola and fresh fruit. Though, originating from France, the parfait is now a world traveler with endless variations.

This turned out to be so good even if it was a bit time consuming.

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Rhubarb Parfaits w/ Hazelnuts & White Chocolate
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Servings
PARFAITS
Ingredients
Cake Circles
Rhubarb Compote
Creme Filling
Servings
PARFAITS
Ingredients
Cake Circles
Rhubarb Compote
Creme Filling
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Instructions
Cake Circles
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk eggs with sugar until fluffy. Fold flour & baking powder into egg mixture.
  3. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet. With a pencil, trace about 36 circles on the paper (use a small glass with the inside circumference of your parfait glasses as a guide).
  4. Place a spoonful of cake mixture in the center of each circle. Spread mixture evenly within the traced lines. Leave a little room for the mixture to expand a bit. Bake the cake circles for about 5-6 minutes. Allow to cool.
Rhubarb Compote
  1. In a saucepan, whisk together water & sugar; add rhubarb & cook for 6-8 minutes over very low heat. Remove from heat, add vanilla & transfer rhubarb pieces carefully to a bowl. Continue to cook syrup for a few minutes to thicken more before pouring over rhubarb. Let rhubarb cool completely. Reserve 6 pieces for garnishes.
Creme Filling
  1. In a small bowl, whip heavy cream. Add half of the white chocolate & half of the hazelnuts to the cream before adding the cooled rhubarb.
Assembly
  1. Alternate cake circles with rhubarb mixture in each of the four parfait glasses. Starting with cake on the bottom, ending with rhubarb mixture. Top each with a piece of reserved rhubarb, remaining white chocolate & some remaining hazelnuts.

Saskatoon Berry Cream Puffs

This week we celebrate my husband Brion’s birthday. As we grow older, it comes clearer everyday, what a special privilege it is to simply have each other to share life with. I have always appreciated Brion’s strong support of my endeavors and for being the ‘wind beneath my wings’. Since it’s the time of the year when those wonderful saskatoon berries are available, I thought they would be nice in some ‘birthday’ cream puffs.

There have been many terms used to describe the humble cream puff. While the basic four ingredient recipe remains the same, how the ingredients are prepared and baked led to many names …. choux, puff, profiterole and buns. Often they were created in elaborate shapes such as swans or pyramids and filled with chocolate or vanilla custard. What was once the dessert of royalty is now a bakery aisle staple. At most supermarkets the frozen ones are available but nothing beats the taste of homemade cream puffs.

Many would describe the taste of a saskatoon as having a sweet, nutty almond flavor. Like their apple cousins, saskatoons continue to ripen after they are picked. In North America, these berries have a variety of names including: prairie berry, serviceberry, shadbush or juneberry.

I took this picture of Brion when we were in Merida, Mexico early this winter (January 2019). We managed to have a nice vacation there before the Covid-19 virus put the world in total disarray.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY LOVE … YOU’RE THE BEST!

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Saskatoon Berry Cream Puffs
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Servings
PUFFS
Ingredients
Cream Puffs
Almond Custard
Saskatoon Berry Compote
Servings
PUFFS
Ingredients
Cream Puffs
Almond Custard
Saskatoon Berry Compote
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Instructions
Cream Puffs
  1. In a saucepan, heat water & butter to a light boil. Sift together flour, baking powder & salt. When butter is melted, add the flour mixture all at once. Stir vigorously & continuously until it forms a ball of dough that leaves the sides of the saucepan clean. Remove from heat & cool 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add 1 egg & beat well, until fully incorporated. Repeat with the other two eggs. Drop or pipe mounds of batter onto baking sheet. Space them well apart as the puffs will double in size.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 F. Continue baking until the puffs are lightly browned about 10-15 minutes for a small sized puff. PRICK EACH PUFF WITH A TOOTHPICK to allow steam to escape & prevent them from flattening. Turn off the oven & with the door slightly ajar, let the shells dry out for a further 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven & let cool on a wire rack.
Almond Custard
  1. In a bowl, whisk together sugar & egg yolks for 2-3 minutes until mixture is pale yellow. Beat in flour; continue beating & slowly add the boiling milk a dribble at a time in the beginning.
  2. Pour into a saucepan & over medium heat bring sauce to a boil, whisking continuously. Lower heat & cook for 2-3 minutes WHISKING to make sure the custard does not scorch. Remove from heat & whisk in the butter & almond extract. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure to have it touching the top of custard.
Saskatoon Berry Compote
  1. In a saucepan, combine water, cornstarch & sugar, then add the rest of the compote ingredients. Bring mixture to a simmer & reduce to a thickened sauce.
Assembly
  1. When the shells are cool, cut a slit in the side of each puff; spoon in a dollop of the custard & top with some berry compote. If you prefer, dust tops with powdered sugar.

Fresh Strawberries w/ Hot Fudge Sauce

Although, this is a fruit we can buy all year-round, strawberries are synonymous with summer. In the 1960’s, the chocolate fondue was invented by Konrad Egli of the Swiss Chalet Restaurant in the USA. He came up with the idea as a way to encourage customers to buy dessert. This idea has since faded into the background of the dessert scene but doesn’t mean its not fair game for an update.

For anyone who is a chocoholic, there are just so many sweet things up can dip into chocolate sauce from fruit to chunks of cake or cookies.

Individual desserts add such a elegant, personal touch. These little ceramic, ‘amuse busch’ dishes are normally used for a small delicacy that is served to let you experience a taste of what is coming in the main course. In this case, its a little something to have after dinner.

If you are interested in getting a few of these ‘spoons’, I found them at a T&T Supermarket for about $1.85 each. So cute, inexpensive & a must have for a special occasion.

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Fresh Strawberries w/ Hot Fudge Sauce
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Instructions
  1. Place the chocolate in a medium-sized heatproof bowl & set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar & butter; place over medium heat & bring JUST to a simmer, stirring often.
  3. Remove from heat & pour immediately over chocolate. Let stand until the chocolate has melted, then stir gently until smooth.
  4. Whisk in vanilla & the liqueur (if using). Place some of the hot fudge sauce in each of the ceramic amuse busch dishes & top with a fresh strawberry.

Beggar’s Purse Crepes w/ Gorgonzola Sauce

Today July 25th, is my dear sister Loretta’s birthday. Having an older sister is a very unique experience that not everyone can truly know about. We are all products of our environment, and even if we are completely unaware of it, having that ‘big sis, little sis’ dynamic as you grew up, was a huge influence.

I remember how much I enjoyed being with Loretta and doing things together. She always seemed to have the answer to the ‘question’ and was just so much fun to be with.

Since Loretta was the ‘older’ one, she was expected to be more responsible and set an example, leaving me more lee-way to be a bit of a ‘dreamer’ at times. I have always valued Loretta’s advice and honest opinions. I am truly grateful to have her in our lives.

Although Loretta can’t be with us today, I think she would enjoy these little seafood crepes.

Crepes, whether they are rolled or stacked, sweet or savory make such a special meal. I remember some years ago, Brion & I had the pleasure of Loretta’s company on a trip to France. One of the first foods we enjoyed in France was crepes. They definitely made a lasting memory for the three of us.

Today, I wanted to do something a bit different. Sometimes, the name of a dish is simply inspired by its appearance. Such is the case of the crepes called ‘Beggar’s Purse’. The traditional dish consists of mini crepes topped with a good serving of high quality caviar and a dollop of sour cream. The edges of the crepe are pulled up into pleats and tied with a bow of chives. The resulting little bag looked like a purse.

Since then, the dish has been cloned thousands of times and the name beggar’s purse has become a somewhat generic term applied to dishes with various toppings tied in a similar way to resemble a purse. In addition to crepes, phyllo pastry, wonton wrappers or tortillas are used.

In North America, the beggar’s purse, reportedly derived from the French ‘aumoniere‘ pastry, has gilded origins. The dish became popular in the 1980’s. Aumoniere is a type of pastry but it also a medieval term for a small purse or pouch generally used in the 13th & 14th centuries. These purses were often embroidered.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LORETTA!

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Seafood Crepes w/ Gorgonzola Sauce
Instructions
Crepe Batter (yields 12-8" crepes)
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour & salt. Add eggs, melted (cool) butter & milk; whisk to incorporate then add the water. Continue whisking until smooth then fold in chopped chives. Batter should coat the back of a spoon like heavy cream, but if it is too thick, add a bit more water or milk. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours (or up to 2 days).
Scallop Filling
  1. In a saucepan, saute mushrooms until moisture evaporates. In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce & cornstarch; add prepared scallops, ginger, garlic, green onion, cilantro & water chestnuts, mix together. Stir mixture into sauteed mushrooms & cook only until scallops are translucent. Set aside to cool until ready to use.
Gorgonzola Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add garlic & rosemary (if using); cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour & stir to make a paste. Whisk in milk & 1/2 & 1/2 cream. Stir & cook for 3-4 minutes or until thick. Add crumbled Gorgonzola, stir until smooth & season with pepper if desired.
Blanche Whole Chives
  1. Blanche chives in a small saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds. Drain & plunge into an 'ice bath'. Pat dry on paper towels.
Cooking Crepes
  1. Heat the clarified butter (oil or cooking spray) in a crepe pan or skillet. Remove crepe batter from fridge & before you use any , give it a quick tap on the counter. Place 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan & swirl to even it out & form a circle. When the edges start to pull away & the crepe looks cooked in the middle, give the crepe a quick flip & cook for just 10-20 seconds on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.
Assembly
  1. Divide scallop filling between the 12 crepes, placing a portion of mixture in the center of each crepe. Gather the sides up to enclose the filling, secure with a toothpick & tie closed with a chive. Remove the toothpick.
  2. On serving plates, ladle some Gorgonzola sauce. Place 3 'beggar's purses' (per serving plate) on top the sauce. At this point, you may want to give each plate 30 seconds of heat in the microwave.
Recipe Notes
  • These little 'purses' can be served as appetizers or a main dish of 3-4 per serving.

Spiced Pineapple Puff Tart

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is as classic as it comes but pineapple tart or pie, not so much. The original recipe appeared in a fund-raising cookbook in the USA around 1924. Later Gold Metal Flour came out with a full page ad in a women’s magazine in 1925.

Since then, there are many variations to this classic cake. The sweet-tart flavor of pineapple works beautifully alongside a wide range of companion flavors and ingredients as well as the gentle spices of ginger, cinnamon and vanilla to enhance it just a bit more.

Because this particular fruit doesn’t ripen further after being picked, its good to look for a pineapple that is heavy for its size, with a rich, sweet fragrance.

Pineapple pie is not the number one star among pies. In the fall and winter season, its probably apple and in spring and summer, strawberry or maybe blueberry. However, I thought I’d make a ‘hybrid’ version of the old classic. This pineapple tart looks beautiful presented as one large ring, although it could easily be made into individual tarts as well. Of course, don’t hesitate to top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.

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Spiced Pineapple Puff Tart
Instructions
Spiced Syrup
  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter then add ginger, cinnamon & sugar; stir to dissolve. Add orange juice & bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, add vanilla & allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to infuse flavors. Peel pineapple & cut into quarters. Remove the core, then slice into 1 cm chunks, then place them into a deep dish. Reheat the syrup; pour over pineapple & allow to marinate until ready to use.
Assembly
  1. Roll the pastry out on a piece of parchment paper to a thickness of 1/8-inch, then trim to make a large circle. Cut out about a 2-inch circle from the center to form a ring. Cut any pastry that has been trimmed off into pieces & place on top of circle giving it a second layer. Transfer to a baking sheet & place in fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Strain the syrup from the pineapple into a small saucepan. Add cornstarch; place over a medium heat to thicken.
  4. Prick the pastry ring all over with a fork, then arrange the pineapple pieces in a fan around the ring.
  5. Dust the tart liberally with powdered sugar & bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is caramelized & golden brown. When ready to serve, drizzle with spiced syrup & top with a scoop of ice cream.

Raspberry Pistachio Muffins w/ Peaches

For some reason, when I was making these muffins, they made me think about when Brion & I had traveled in Europe years ago. You were offered a ‘continental breakfast’ with your hotel stay. Its all pretty common place these days, but as always, the history behind it is interesting.

A continental breakfast is defined as, ‘a light breakfast in a hotel, restaurant, etc., that includes baked goods, jam, fruit, and coffee’. All of which were shelf-stable items in portion sizes that are perfect for large groups of people.

The term continental breakfast originated in Britain in the mid-19th Century. To the British, the continent refers to the countries of mainland Europe. A continental breakfast describes the type of breakfast you’d encounter in places like France and the Mediterranean. Its a lighter, more delicate alternative to the full English or American breakfasts.

Along with being cost effective … you don’t need much staff to tend a few trays of bagels, pastries and carafes of orange juice & coffee in the lobby. Guests like the convenience of the food and the perceived value of getting something for free.

Today, the continental breakfast included in the price of the room is pretty much standard in most hotels worldwide.

Long story short, these little fruit filled muffins fit the bill perfectly!

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Raspberry Pistachio Muffins w/ Peaches
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. In a food processor, pulse pistachios until finely ground. In a medium bowl, whisk together pistachios, flour, sugar, baking powder & baking soda. Add peaches, stirring to coat them.
  3. In another bowl, whisk yogurt, butter, eggs, vanilla & orange zest. Fold in the dry ingredients making sure not to over mix. Divide batter between the 12 muffin cups. Insert 2 or 3 whole raspberries into each muffin. Sprinkle with some slivered pistachios. Push them down a bit into the batter so they don't fall out when the muffins rise.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until risen & golden. Cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish.

Kiwi Strawberry Cookies

When did the world first fall in love with this flavorful combination? From what I remember, it was in the 80’s & 90’s. There was strawberry-kiwi flavored Gatorade, applesauce, wine coolers, Jello, Kool-Aid, lip balm, yogurt, jams, chewing gum, etc., etc. The fact that these two fruits perfectly compliment each others flavor profile, make them an ideal choice for flavoring summer treats.

When I originally saw these ‘kiwi cookies’ on the internet, I was intrigued by the look but not the recipe ingredients. From what I could find, they resembled kiwi slices in their looks but not in taste. The Lorann Company makes a very interesting assortment of flavoring oils, one of which is strawberry kiwi. This seemed just what was needed.

Through a little bit of my recipe development process, I was able to accomplish the look and flavor I was after. When you think about it, these are just another variation to the classic German pinwheel cookie which were popularized in the 1920’s.

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Kiwi Strawberry Cookies
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DOZEN
Ingredients
Servings
DOZEN
Ingredients
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Instructions
Assembly
  1. Roll out the chocolate dough between parchment paper in a rectangle shape about 5 X 10-inches & about a 1/8-inch thickness. Next, roll out the green dough between parchment paper in a rectangle about 3 X 10-inches & about 1/4-inch thickness. With the beige colored dough, roll out to 10-inches long & form into a round 'log' for the center of cookies on parchment paper.
  2. Now top the chocolate layer with green layer. Place cylinder of beige dough at one side. Using the help of the parchment paper, roll together, starting at even end & roll to end with the extended chocolate, so that the chocolate goes all the way around. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap & refrigerate about an hour or freeze until ready to use.
  3. Preheat oven to 300 F. When chilled, unwrap & cut slices 1/3-inch thick. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; place slices about an inch apart. With the tip of a knife, make a kiwi pattern in center of cookies & arrange black chia seeds. Bake for about 20 minutes. Do NOT brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet a couple of minutes then place on a cooling rack.

Rhubarb Pastries

Here we are at that time of year when rhubarb makes an appearance once again. As always, if you read my blog, you know I can’t resist featuring numerous rhubarb recipes during its growing season. The question is … do you love it or hate it? It demands an opinion. Is it fruit or a vegetable? Is it red or is it green? Doesn’t matter …. rhubarb is rhubarb. It is what it is and doesn’t care if we love it or leave it.

Today, I have made some rhubarb pastries. The tartness is there, as it should be, but is mellowed a bit by the velvety cream cheese so the sharpness is balanced. The night before just put the frozen puff pastry in the fridge to defrost. Make up the rhubarb compote and cream cheese mixture so they can chill overnight. The next morning its nothing more than a quick assembly job before you are ready to bake them.

Great little ‘upscale’ breakfast pastry!

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Rhubarb Pastries
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword rhubarb danish
Servings
Ingredients
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword rhubarb danish
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Rhubarb Compote
  1. In a small pot, place rhubarb, orange juice, sugar, cinnamon, anise, vanilla & ginger. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low; simmering for about 10 minutes. Rhubarb should be tender but still hold its shape. Set aside to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg yolk, salt & vanilla together until well combined. Store in fridge until chilled. As with the compote, the cream cheese bakes better in these when it is chilled.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Lay puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface & use a pizza cutter to create 16 small triangles (first cutting eight rectangles & then splitting them into 2 triangles each). Spread each triangle with a thin layer of cream cheese mixture & top with some rhubarb compote. Starting at the long end, roll each triangle into a crescent shape. Transfer pastries to a parchment lined baking sheet with space in between each one.
  3. Refrigerate pastries for 10 minutes then beat together egg white & water. Brush the surface of pastry with egg wash & bake 12-15 minutes or until golden. Allow to rest on baking tray for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.
Topping
  1. In a bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, extract & milk. Drizzle over danish & garnish with toasted almond slices. Serve warm.
Recipe Notes
  • Usually puff pastry is packaged containing 2 sheets. I only wanted to make one but you will definitely have enough of the cream cheese & rhubarb fillings to make both sheets if you wish.