These apple danish pastries are an easy, homemade version of a classic bakery item. Made with puff pastry (no yeast), these flaky morsels are filled with sweet cream cheese, and cinnamon apples, and are the perfect fall brunch treat to enjoy during apple season.
Sweet breakfast and puff pastry items are a match made in heaven. Danish make for a great breakfast, brunch, or even dessert, especially for a special occasion during the holiday season.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Brunch treat - An apple cream cheese danish would be the perfect treat to serve to house guests who have stayed the night, or if you're hosting a brunch gathering.
Deceptively simple - While these delicious pastries like you labored over the process, they're actually quite quick. There's no rise time like in a yeasted danish dough, and can be made using store-bought puff pastry (or with your own rough puff pastry if you're feeling up to a project).
Few ingredients - Not many ingredients are needed to make the apple cheese danish! You will already have many on hand in your pantry, and you can even omit the cream cheese portion, if desired, and go for a classic apple cinnamon danish.
- Puff pastry. Store-bought frozen (and thawed) puff pastry is great. If you'd prefer to try your hand at your own puff pastry, use my Rough Puff Pastry recipe for a detailed guide.
- Cream cheese. Full fat cream cheese at a soft room temperature is needed.
- Apples. Tart apples like Granny Smith, Fuji, Gala, or Braeburn are best for this recipe.
- Sugars. Brown sugar is used to create the apple pie filling, and granulated sugar gets mixed into the cream cheese danish filling.
- Cornstarch. This is used to thicken the apple pie filling and prevents excess moisture from soaking the apple danish during baking.
- Egg. Gets whisked into an egg wash and brushed over the pastry before baking. This helps create a nice golden brown color.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Add a drizzle of caramel or vanilla icing
- Omit the cheese filling and solely fill the danish with apple pie filling.
- Add a streusel topping like in these apple crumble muffins.
- Make it into a danish braid following these cherry danish instructions.
- Use canned apple pie filling, but leave out most of the "goop".
- Make them mini by cutting squares from the puff pastry and add them to muffin tin with fillings.
- Cut the puff pastry into rectangles and add the filling ingredients on top like in these fruit and cream cheese danish.
How to Make This Recipe
One: Peel, core, and dice the apples into 1cm pieces.
Two: Combine with the sugar, spices, and cornstarch until the apples are soft and juices thicken. Set aside to cool.
Three: Combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until very smooth.
Four: Lightly roll out a sheet of puff pastry and cut the sheet into 9-10 strips. Repeat with the second sheet.
Five: Take one strip and turn it opposite ways to make it into a corkscrew.
Six: Roll up the first piece, then corkscrew a second piece and attach it to the first piece. Coil it around the first piece.
Hot tip! Wet the "tail" of one of the strips and press down to adhere each strip together. It needs some water to act like a glue to hold it together.
Seven: Repeat with a third strip of pastry.
Eight: Once the coil is complete (with three pieces of pastry), tuck the last tail under the pastry rose.
Nine: Press down all over the center of the pastry to create a sealed 2" well for the fillings.
Ten: Whisk the egg together with a splash of water and brush all over the pastry roses (including the centers).
Eleven: Add the cream cheese mixture to the center of each well.
Twelve: Gently add the apples to the top of the cream cheese, trying not to allow the juices to fall down the sides.
Bake the apple danish until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before enjoying. Add a dusting of powder sugar, vanilla icing, or caramel sauce, if desired!
- Assemble the nests as quickly as you can, without skimping on quality. Keep extra pastry strips in the fridge (covered with plastic wrap) if working more slowly.
- I find it easier to roll and cut one sheet of pastry, make 3 danish, then repeat with the second piece of pastry.
- Wet the edges of the strips to ensure they stick together when twirling and wrapping.
- Press down the center well rather firmly so there are no gaps where the filling can seep out.
- Allow the apple pie filling to cool completely before adding it to the pastry.
- The pastry should be very cold prior to baking. Add the assembled tray to the fridge for 30 minutes or the freezer for 15 mins.
There are quite a few different types, varieties, and shapes, but you're likely most familiar with a circular kind with a dab of custard, cheese, or fruit filling in the middle. Read about more danish pastry varieties.
While similar, traditional danish pastry dough is a yeast-leavened dough while puff pastry simply uses flour and butter to create flaky layers and rise.
This is likely because the pastry was not cooked long enough. If a filling is added, the dough will remain soft around the filling and become crispy on the outside, but it shouldn't be raw or doughy. Continue baking if this happens (moving the pan to the lower third of the oven). It should be very golden and crispy.
Yes! Full assemble the pastry and store in the fridge on a pan covered with plastic wrap for up to 2 days before baking. Bake straight from the fridge.
They can also be fully assembled, flash frozen, and transferred to a sealed container and frozen. Bake directly from frozen.
Store any leftover danish at room temperature for one day. The pastries do not store well and should be eaten the same day. Enjoy leftovers at room temperature.
To store for longer than one day, cover and store in the fridge for one additional day. Reheat in a 375℉ oven for 5 minutes.
The apple danish can be completely assembled and flash-frozen on a baking sheet for 30 minutes, then transferred to an airtight container or zip-top bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
They can then be baked directly from frozen according to recipe instructions.
Did you make this recipe? Share it with us! Tag @thecozyplum on Instagram & Facebook and leave a star rating ⭐️ below!
- Rolling Pin
- pizza cutter or knife
- Large sheet pan
- 1 large baking apple peeled, cored, and diced into ½” pieces
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 oz cream cheese room temperature
- ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 sheets puff pastry thawed
- 1 large egg for egg wash
- Preheat the oven to 400℉ and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the diced apples, brown sugar and cinnamon to a large pan and heat over medium heat until the apples begin to soften.1 large baking apple, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Mix together the cornstarch and water, then add to the apples. Drizzle in the slurry while mixing the apples and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the vanilla last. Remove the apple pie filling to a plate or bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon vanilla
- In another bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with a rubber spatula until smooth.3 oz cream cheese, ½ tablespoon granulated sugar, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Unfold both sheets of puff pastry and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to 1/16” thick, keeping it in either a square or rectangle.2 sheets puff pastry
- Use a large sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut each sheet of pastry into 1” strips. You’ll need 9-10 strips per sheet.
- On the parchment lined baking sheet, twist one strip of pastry into a corkscrew. Start with the edge of one piece and coil the corkscrew around itself. Wet the edge of the first strip then press the second strip onto the edge to seal. Twist the second piece into a corkscrew then continue coiling it around. Repeat with the third strip, and tuck the end under the pastry nest.
- Gently press down in the center of the nest (about 2 inches wide) to seal and be sure no filling will spill out when added. Repeat with the remaining strips (making 6 nests).
- Note: See the step-by-step instructions in the blog post above for visuals on how to make and assemble the nests.
- Whisk the egg with a small splash of water, then brush the egg wash all over each pastry nest, including the centers.1 large egg
- Add 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture to the center of each, then top with a spoonful of apple pie filling.
- Bake in the center rack for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy.