Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cranberries and Mascarpone Puff Pastry--French Classic with an American Twist

There is always puff pastry in my freezer. I keep just in case I have unexpected guests or a new idea of what to make from it. I never make my own. I think it takes too much work and I rather spend that time preparing cakes that are not available at stores or taste much better when made at home, as for example all tarts, which are best soon after they cool down and their smell still fills up the kitchen.

When I lived in Switzerland, I tried all kinds of cakes based on puff pastry, which are very popular there. They were made early in the morning waiting to be served with the breakfast coffee. On the way to my French classes I often visited one boulangerie to have a cup of coffee with a croissant or a puff pastry cake. When we met after school it was espresso and something more fancy. I remember something similar to Danish pastry, which is popular in the US, but much less sweet and more subtle in taste. It was filled with soft cheese and sometimes also with delicate fruits. Pears were too mild for my taste but I loved it with wild blueberries or raspberries inside.

The other day, after I made cranberry sauce, I was wondering what to do with the leftover fruits, and all of a sudden I recalled these puff pastry cakes. What came out was a very easy seasonal dessert, and also quite original in taste. A French cake with an American twist.

Puff Pastry with Mascarpone and Cranberries
(For two mid-size cakes)

1 pack puff pastry (two sheets)--I use Pepperidge Farm pastry,
8 oz of mascarpone cheese,
1/2 cup sugar plus extra couple spoons for the finish,
1 cup cranberries,
1 small egg or leftover white.

1. Defrost pastry. Cut the first sheet in half and spread both parts on a lightly buttered baking tin. Put the second sheet aside on a flour-dusted surface.
2. Preheat oven to 400F.
3. Wash and dry cranberries on the colander.

4. Mix mascarpone with sugar. Spread half of the mascarpone on each of the pastry leaving around a half-inch margin. Spread half of the cranberries. Cover it with the second half of puff pastry. Using a fork press edges around the each piece to close the cake. Make on top of the cake a few cuts--this will help vaporise excess moisture.

5. Brush the top of each cake with a beaten egg or egg's white and dust it with two tablespoons of sugar.
6. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until pastry rises and the top becomes gold.