Chocolate and Curd Cheese Cherry Almond Danish Braid

Chocolate and Curd Cheese Cherry Almond Danish Braid

Long title? It is, indeed. The hardest part of the new challenge was to choose just one or two fillings for the Sherry Yard’s Danish dough. As soon as the new challenge was announced, my mind got overwhelmed with the filling ideas, not to mention – pastry forming ideas, as well. The first braid was the attempt to combine a lot of my favorite things inside one Danish crust. It was natural to me – I like my Danish filled well: it’s not all about the crust, I believe. It seemed logical to go with fresh seasonal fruits, so I chose Bing cherries as one of the filling components. I marinated them in Kirsch which enhanced their flavor (oh, well… I just like booze in my desserts, I guess…). The cherries was placed on the chocolate (brownie-like, almond flavored) and the home-made curd cheese (with addition of sour-cream and lemon zest) fillings that I formed into the logs and placed side-by-side in the center of the rolled dough. As I mentioned, the cherries was a second deck. And toasted coarsely chopped whole almonds went on top of the cherries. After the braid was baked and cooled, I drizzled an icing sugar glaze (diluted with Kirsch again) over the top and sprinkled some toasted sliced almonds over the glaze. I really liked the outcome. All flavors complemented each other nicely without overwhelming or competing. As you can imagine, one moderate slice was quite satisfying with all this filling inside.

Cherry Kirsch Diptych

Makes one very large or two, more reasonably sized, braids

For the dough:

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe):

  • 1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 large eggs, chilled, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage):

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

For the chocolate filling:

  • 4 cup (3/4 lb) chocolate cake scraps
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp Kirsch
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

For the curd cheese filling:

  • 1 ½ cups (12 oz) fresh curd cheese
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp sour cream
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted (or to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp (pinch) salt
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

For the cherry filling:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup Kirsch
  • ¼ cup brandy (you can use all Kirsch or all brandy, whatever you have in your home bar)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ scraped vanilla bean used for making the dough
  • 2 cups Bing cherries, stemmed and pitted
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup whole toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

For the egg wash:

Makes enough for all pastries below

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk

For the clear glaze:

Makes enough to glaze all pastries below

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup

For the sugar glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • About 2 tbsp Kirsch
  • A drop of almond oil (or pure almond extract)
  • ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds for sprinkling

Kirsch Marinated Cherry

Make the dough:

Detrempe:

Combine the flour and salt together, set aside.
Warm the milk to 105F. Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the milk, let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk to fully dissolve. Stirring with a wooden spoon, slowly add the sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Start adding the flour, one cup at a time. After about 2 cups of the flour have been incorporated, attach the bowl to the mixer base, and gradually add the rest of the flour mixing with the dough hook on low speed. After all flour has been added, increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and pat into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Beurrage:

Combine the butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.

After the detrempe has chilled for 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with the flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right third of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you are not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do so, roll the dough out to about 1 inch thick, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. The Danish dough can be kept in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough dough for 2 braids

Make the chocolate filling:

Process the cake scraps in the food processor until fine crumbs form. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. The mixture should be soft but firm enough to hold its shape. Add a little bit more Kirsch or water to archive the right consistency if needed. Transfer the filling onto a large piece of plastic wrap, shape into a sausage, and refrigerate until needed.

Make the curd cheese filling:

Put the curd cheese through a sieve. In a medium bowl combine the cheese with the remaining ingredients, mix well. You can cover the bowl with the filling with plastic wrap and refrigerate; or scrape the filling onto a large piece of plastic and form into a sausage. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Marinate the cherries:

Combine the sugar, Kirsch, brandy, water and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the cherries. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract. Cover the pan and let the cherries steep for 1 hour. Cool to room temperature. At this point the cherries are ready to be used. The cherries can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, tightly covered.

Make the clear glaze:

In a heavy saucepan, bring all of the ingredients to a rapid boil. Remove from the heat and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Form and the braid (or braids):

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle (if making one huge braid) into ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
Form the chocolate and the curd cheese fillings into the logs, each is about 2 inches wide and 2 inches shorter than the length of the rolled dough. Place these two logs, side by side, down the center of the rectangle leaving one inch at the top and bottom of the dough free. Drain the cherries (reserve the syrup for another use) and place them on the top of the chocolate-cheese filling. Sprinkle the chopped almonds over the cherries. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of the dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Whisk together the egg and milk in a small bowl. With a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proof and Bake:

Spray some cooking oil onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.

Near the end of proofing, position a rack in the center of the oven and
preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

If possible, place the baking sheet with the braid on into another baking sheet of similar or larger size to protect the bottom from overbrowning. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. If the top of the braid is getting brown too quickly, cover it loosely with foil. Cool for 5 minutes, then brush the clear glaze over the top of the braid.

Make the sugar glaze and finish the braid:

Whisk the ingredients together until completely smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add a little bit of Kirsch or water until the glaze reaches the right consistency for drizzling.

When the braid has cooled, set the rack with the braid over a baking sheet and drizzle the sugar glaze over the top. Then sprinkle the toasted sliced almonds over the glaze.

Chocolate and Curd Cheese Cherry Almond Danish Braid Inside

Chocolate and Curd Cheese Cherry Almond Danish Braid Inside 2

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52 Responses to “Chocolate and Curd Cheese Cherry Almond Danish Braid”

  1. mmmm cherry and curd cheese. and with chocolate. this sounds crazy delicious!

    xx fanny

  2. Yours turned out fabulous.

  3. that looks amazing! great job!

  4. Oh wow. Beautiful photos and delicious sounding pastries.

  5. Your braid looks perfect and ever so delicious! really well done!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  6. absolutely beautiful vera!!!

  7. Aw..superb…your sugar glazed made the bread looks so elegant :)

  8. Beautiful braid and beautiful photos!

  9. What a wonderful blog!! Your braid is wonderful, so seasonal!! I’m a Daring Member too, congratulation for your challenge, Elga

  10. Wow!! Your danish looks amazing. The flavours sound stunning as well. Job well done! :)

  11. Wow, to me this would be the ultimate danish. I love cherry and chocolate together, and your braid looks perfect. I used seasonal blueberries for mine, which hasn’t been posted yet, but will be later today.

  12. Really gorgeous! Love the photos!

  13. Your pics are beautiful, had to pull my tongue off the screen to write this comment. Well done!

  14. Wow! Very clever filling and your photos are stunning!

  15. How beautiful! I love your choices and your photography is amazing!!!!

  16. Those are to die for!!! Stunning photographs, as always!! They make me love visiting your blog!

  17. Stunning… your braid is absolutely perfect!

  18. Oh, my sweet heaven!!! Those had me salivating and wishing I could summon those to my house!!!

  19. Most beautiful pictures of a great braid. The last picture is delicious enough to eat!

  20. Yum, chocolate, cheese, cherries, Kirsch: it all sounds so delectable. The photos themselves are lovely, too!

  21. Oh my your braids look so so tempting. Love the pic with the dark cherries et al.

  22. All the danishes you made with the dough turned out gorgeous! I love them all!

  23. Only one word: perfect!

  24. Cherry…chocolate…almond….DELICIOUS! Beautiful job :)

  25. Wow, just perfect. Cherries are almost in season here, I’m inspired!

  26. You certainly made a beautiful braid! The chocolate with the cherries sounds like a delightful combination. Enjoy! Liz

  27. Stunning! I’m thinking of doing something with cherries with my extra dough. :)

  28. Yours are absolutely beautiful! And that filling? Wow, it sounds so delicious!

  29. Gorgeous photos! Looks absolutely delicious!!

  30. I would like to thank everyone with my whole heart for your expressed interest and kind comments. It’s absolutely wonderful to be a part of such friendly and supportive community as DB. Thank you!

  31. Cherry and chocolate: always a winner! And all of your danishes look stunning! Bravo!

  32. Wow, what an amazing braid!

  33. Those cherries are stunning as well as the braid!

  34. What a beautiful picture! And your fillings sound delicious. I wish I was eating this for breakfast right now.

  35. GORGEOUS! That’s an understatement…this photo is spectacular! I really admire the way you capture food :). I’m nominating you for a blog award; I’ll post the entry later this evening (when I’m not at work :)! You really deserve it. Your blog is one of my favorites :D.

  36. Your braid is amazing. It looks like it should be in a magazine

  37. Vera your danishes look perfect! I know you are a good stylist..but it really is your pastries that make your photos look so good! Marinating the cherries in Kirsch sounds wonderful!! I think cherry is my all time favorite fruit to bake with!
    Thank you for checking up on me..I love my little ones, but they are definitely time consuming! :) Hope your well and enjoying your family also!
    Ciao,
    Laurie

  38. I’m impressed with all your different pastries. They ALL looks wonderful. Great job! Your presentation on the cherry braid is great.

  39. I’m a booze-in-desserts girl too, and your danish is jaw droppingly stunning.

  40. Wow, your danish looks impressive good! I love cherries and Kirsch.

  41. What a gorgeous braid you made! I love the fillings too! Just stunningly beautiful… good job :)

  42. Congratulations Vera on your “Good Looking Blog Award”!! That is the picture that cliched me as a reader of your fabulous blog!! :)

  43. I just realized I forgot to post the actual award on my blog! I’ll do it later this evening when I get home from work :) – you can copy and paste it onto your blog from there :).

  44. That braid is such a winner – now if you tell me you’ve never done anything like this before I think I’ll just cry. Your choice of filling is pretty amazing and the cut piece is just gorgeous. DB are such a creative bunch…I’m in awe.

  45. Beautiful braid! And photos! Heck, the whole blog is gorgeous – how have I not found you before?

  46. It looks perfect – flaky and decadent. And I love your photos!

  47. You can never go wrong with cherries and almonds. :)Your braid is stunning.

  48. Beautiful! And such lovely pictures too. Worth the long title.

  49. The pictures looked so great I decided to bake the danish. However, as I was in the process of making the dough, I noticed that you said “After 5 cups of the flour have been incorporated, attach the bowl to the mixer base,” with an indication that there are more flour to be added. But the recipe for the dough indicates only 3 1/2 cups of flour. Please advise what is the correct amount of flour to be used for the dough.

    I went ahead with the 3 1/2 cups. I hope it turns out OK.

    Great photography!

  50. Amy, you are absolutely right, there are 3 1/4 cups flour total. What I meant to say was :”After about 2 cups of the flour (the approximate amount you can quite easily mix in by hand) have been incorporated, attach the bowl to the mixer base and continue adding the rest of the flour and maybe even a bit more if the dough is still very sticky.” Sorry for the typo.

  51. Thanks so much Vera for an excellent recipe. I love cheese cherry so going though your blog makes me feel really be attracted that makes me need to cook to enjoy immediately.

  52. This looks so absolutely delicious, I will have to give a try. thank you!

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