Simple Danish Pastries

I feel like I’ve been harping on quick, simple recipes and meals lately. Sorry if that offends your gourmet spirit. I promise that fast food (I’m talking fast food like homecooked fast food, not fast food like dollar menu fast food) can taste delicious even if it is simple and quick to prepare. Because of my latest fetish with easy recipes, I was thrilled beyond thrilled when out of the blue, America’s Test Kitchen sent me their newest cookbook, The Quick Family Cookbook, because the food in here is seriously talking my language. No-fail is the word that comes to mind with ATK’s tested, tested, tested recipes and the wonder of this cookbook is that you get classically delicious America’s Test Kitchen recipes with minimal fuss, time and ingredients. Oh, I am in love with this book.

And I’m giving away TWO today! Just leave one comment on this post telling me your most used, most loved cookbook. I have a feeling this is going to be the one haunting the counters of my kitchen (uh, when we get a house) for a long time.

Simple Danish Pastries

In honor of the giveaway, I chose a recipe from the book to make and share with you. I should have made some stellar main course fare that will save your bacon on any given Tuesday night; however, I couldn’t resist these delicious cheese Danish pastries. They are so easy, so elegant and so delicious, if you close your eyes while eating one, you might just believe you are smack dab on the bustling streets of Paris – oh wait, think of some city in Denmark! – eating an authentic pastry. Not that I ever have had that experience, but take my word for it – these babies get the job done for a no-fuss pastry. Make them and love them. And in the meantime, keep an eye out for a truly sanity-saving recipe coming Friday and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Note: One copy of the cookbook sponsored by America’s Test Kitchen, the other giveaway copy provided by me. If you’ve been around this here blog long enough you’ll know that I don’t do product/cookbook giveaways hardly ever and trust me, I get a lot of snarky emails from companies and readers upset because I won’t accept their free food products and other “stuff” for shameless promotion on my blog. The only exception I really ever make is for America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks because I swear by their recipes and I have bought many of their cookbooks myself. I figure if I would go out of my way to buy it or own it on my own dollar then it is worth sharing with all of you!

Simple Cheese Danish

Yield: Makes 6

Simple Cheese Danish


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular, softened to room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (9 1/2 by 9-inch)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water


  1. Adjust an oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla. Set aside.
  2. Roll the pastry into a 12 by 9-inch rectangle on a lightly floured counter, making sure it doesn't stick to the counter while rolling. Cut the rectangle into six 4 1/2 by 4-inch rectangles (cut it in half the long way and then cut each strip into thirds). Transfer the pastry rectangles to the baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart. Using the tip of a paring knife, score a 1/2-inch border around the edge of each pastry, then brush the borders with the egg wash (no fear - if you don't have a pastry brush, using your fingers works just as well!). Prick the pastry with a fork every 1 inch or so within the border (see the picture below for a visual). Place a generous 2-3 tablespoons of filling in the center of each pastry and spread it into an even layer leaving the border uncovered.
  3. Bake the pastries until fully puffed and golden about 12-14 minutes (watching carefully so they don't overbrown). Serve the pastries warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

1,211 Responses to Simple Cheese Danish

  1. Marilyn says:

    My moms RS cookbook from her ward. So many excellent cooks in that bunch!

  2. Jill says:


    Exactly one year ago our family had just moved and were living in a hotel with four kids and a dog! Everyday my husband would go off to would to work and we would find somewhere new to go to release some energy (3 of my 4 kids are boys) and return in the afternoon so my youngest could nap. I want to encourage you that although this is difficult you will be blessed and have wonderful memories from your stay at the hotel. Here is a little something I wrote looking back on that time…I hope it will bless as well as encourage you.

    The crock pot was my friend also during our stay. When I read about your situation this is a recipe of mine that came to mind. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. Coralie says:

    My favorites are the ones compiled by women in our congregations or the book I’ve written my recipes in for years. That counts as a cookbook, right? πŸ™‚

  4. Jen says:

    Mine has to be my old, dilapidated recipe binder. I was so worried it would get lost in our recent move that I almost didn’t let our movers box it up!

  5. Ashley Tower says:

    I love Everyday Food magazine!

  6. Nick says:

    The most used cookbook in my house is a collection of recipies from my grandparents church. they used to publush a cookbook every five years. It even has some of my recipes from two of my great grandmothers.

    Classic midwest comfort food including bar and hotdishes.

  7. Janelle Belka says:

    I love my “Favorites” cookbook. I use it all the time.

  8. Tag Edwards says:

    My favorite and most used cookbook is a Southern Living Quick and Easy cookbook my mother bought when I was in high school. LOVE IT!

  9. Judy F. says:

    I am in love with ATK as well. I have subscribed to two of their magazines and saved them in my growing stack. A cookbook would solve that problem. I guess I need to have puff pastry in the freezer since my family loves danish for breakfast and I could make them much cheaper than the store bought ones!

  10. Sara says:

    I love the Favorites cookbook by the Ivory family.

  11. Dena says:

    Hey Mel… my go to cookbook is probably Joy of Cooking. But, with all the recipes I’ve printed out of yours, it should be “Mel’s Kitchen Cafe” that is my go to for favorite and easy recipes!

  12. bonnie says:

    My most favorite cookbooks have been put together by both sides of my family. Every few years we all submit our favorite recipes and they are spiral bound and sent out. Each recipe reminds me of someone different that I love.

  13. elizabeth jones says:

    Joy of Cooking. Hands down.

  14. Natalie B says:

    My go-to cookbook is the King Arthur Baker’s Companion, which is for baking more than cooking actual meals, which is why I frequent your blog each week when it’s time to plan dinners!

  15. Jill says:

    My mom put a recipe book together for me when I got married which I love!

  16. Thesha says:

    My OBB cookbook, I love it!

  17. Linley says:

    Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook was really my springboard into cooking. I now have developed my own cookbook from favorites I’ve gathered throughout the years as my love of cooking has grown!

  18. Kris says:

    My Taste of Home Cookbook probably gets the most use, more for cooking times/temps than for recipes. Haven’t needed to crack open a cookbook since finding your site earlier this year. Now I pretty much just come to your site to do my meal planning each week.

  19. Anne Schofield says:

    Can I pick as my cookbook? Oh, and my awesome Paprika app to put it all on my iPad. And pinterest for my secondary reference as needed. For inspiration on paper, I like my Xagave cookbook. I am a sucker for good pictures, and sadly my lovely ward cookbooks don’t inspire the same salvating as a recipe that includes pictures.

  20. Kristy Parr says:

    My favorite recipe book is a SLC local book called Favorites. I would love this Quick test kitchen book, I love watching the test kitchen on TV.

  21. Kassidy says:

    I have a favorite cookbook from my church that I use often

  22. Krista says:

    “Lion House Recipes” is my favorite. It’s been used so much that I’m surprised that the cover is still attached. Great book!!

  23. Cyd says:

    Does Pinterest count as a cookbook? What about your site or the treasured binder I have collected over the years? Can’t say I have a favorite cookbook….maybe it will be this one?

  24. Baker4Boys says:

    I too love ATK! My favorite/most used cookbook right now is probably the ATK: The Complete TV Show Cookbook that my sister-in-law gave me for my birthday. It such a great resource! Sooo many recipes and helfpul hints! – I would love this quick recipes book! As a working mom who does her best to make a home-cooked meal for my family everynight, quick is sometimes a neccessity!

  25. Wanda says:

    I have several cookbooks that I refer to but more recently I’ve found Pinterest with leads to fabulous recipes. Gotta love today’s technology.

  26. Shaura says:

    My favorite cookbook is one the ladies of our church published years ago! It’s falling apart…it has to be held together with a rubberband!

  27. Jessica h says:

    I love my tired and true hand written recipe book that has all of my loved and cherished recipes that I have collected over the years

  28. Angie says:

    I love cookbooks, all of them. One of my most trusted is my Essential Mormon Cookbook. Everything is great in it.

  29. Loralee says:

    Love my better homes and gardens cookbook. So classic, I pull it out all the time.

  30. Terri J says:

    Hi Melanie!

    If I’m not too late… I would like to say my favorite cookbook in the past has been the old Taste of Home books. I have found quite a few tried and true recipes that I still use today. 1997 was a good year.

  31. Pamela says:

    I’m more of a food blog person than a cookbook girl, but I looooooove James Peterson’s Baking. I also am a big fan of any Ina G cookbook (who isn’t??) πŸ™‚

  32. Heather says:

    I have waaaaay too many cookbooks! Love your site.

  33. Jami says:

    Melanie, I think if I had a book with all your recipes compiled in it, it would be my favorite cookbook. But since I don’t have that (yet?) I always go to a book my Mom compiled a few years ago filled with family favorites. Hope I win!

  34. Sandle says:

    My Barefoot Contessa cookbook has a lot of wear and tear. Thanks so much for the giveaway and hope you find a wonderful house soon!

  35. Katie A says:

    I have a recipe binder that my family put together of secret family recipes! I love it

  36. Kathryn says:

    I love the Joy of Cooking!

  37. Kelsey Gibb says:

    I have a lot of favorite cook books but the one i always fall back on is one that my aunt put together with all of our family and close friend’s recipes. I just love it!!

  38. Kate says:

    Well, before I had you, Mel, I looked at the classic Betty Crocker cookbook. Now it’s pretty much all Mel’s kitchen cafe or

  39. Juli says:

    My favorite cookbook right now is Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. So good and authentic! Though I have a special love in my heart for all my Cooks’ Illustrated books.

  40. Amber says:

    I love ATK’s Healthy Family Cookbook. And Our Best Bites first cookbook too.

  41. kari says:

    I mostly use your blog and now but I do love my Southern Living cookbook. πŸ™‚

  42. Libbie says:

    My favorite cookbook is one that my mother bought from a bed and breakfast in Alaska. Sounds different but the ladies there knew how to make up some delicious recipes!

  43. Katie says:

    I adore my Betty Crocker cookbook but it is so shredded! I can always tell the recipes we like the best because they are slopped on and dog-eared with notes scribbled all over! πŸ™‚

  44. Melinda B says:

    I use lots of different cookbooks. I probably use my old better homes and garden cookbook the most.

  45. Julie says:

    Those look delightful! My favorite cookbook is an old paperback version of Better Homes and Gardens (complete with red checkered cover) that I stole from my mom when I moved out. It’s my go to for the basics!

  46. Anna says:

    My own personal cookbooks, which are really just a combination of a thousand people’s different recipes.
    Thanks for all the yummy recipes!

  47. Sadie says:

    I have 3 America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks and alternate between the three of them the most!

  48. Emily says:

    My most-used cookbook is Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids by Amy Houts. She is my mom! πŸ™‚ Although I don’t have kids, the recipes are easy, and include some favorites that I grew up with. πŸ™‚

  49. Becky Parkin says:

    A simple neighborhood cookbook is one of my favs. I love having recipes from people I know who are great cooks and the fact that my mom put a bunch of her recipes in it!

  50. bacey says:

    King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

  51. Gen says:

    Hi Mel! I love danish pastries and yours look so amazing! =) I wanna try this. Wish me luck! I also like the recipes from the test kitchen. I hope I get to have a copy of that book! =)

  52. Gen says:

    I learned a lot from the Joy of Cooking cookbook when I was still learning my way around the kitchen.

  53. Amanda says:

    It’s hard to choose, I love my America’s Test Kitchen and Our Best Bites books but I probably use you blog equally as much! πŸ™‚

  54. Ariane says:

    Betty Crocker was my parents ‘go to’ growing up and honestly I don’t go to it that often anymore, my cookbook of choice is the internet and I love being able to search blogs to get all sorts of recipes.

  55. Shannon says:

    Oh I hope I’m not too late to enter! My {current} favorite cookbook is Recipe Hall of Fame Quick & Easy Cookbook. My husband brought this into our marriage 7 years ago, and for 6 of those years I let it collect dust in the corner because it didn’t have any pictures. But when I finally opened it up, I realized it had all of the stand-by recipes I grew up with but never learned how to make!

  56. Courtney Jackson says:

    My favorite cookbook isn’t a cookbook, but a group of magazines. I love, love my ATK’s 30 minute suppers magazines.

  57. Teresa S says:

    You know, since so many people started food/cooking blogs I don’t really use a cookbook anymore, I just pull recipes from the different sites. Maybe I am missing out; this one sounds like it could be a good one.

  58. Jen says:

    I love America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks also! Some of my other favorite are Better Homes and Gardens and a cookbook my hometown church put together in 1983!

  59. Shar says:

    My favorite cookbook is the one my mom compiled for me with all of our favorite childhood recipes (and it’s in her handwriting). So many memories–and I use it all of the time, as well as adding my own recipes to the book.

  60. Michelle says:

    Mel, I have fallen in love with your blog! Your writing and descriptions are phenominal. But anyway, I most often use my homemade cook book filled with recipes from friends and family—the tried and true ones. This looks like one that I would love to try!

  61. Angela H says:

    I love America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook and would put in to good use πŸ™‚

  62. Shelli says:

    My favorite “cookbook” is Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s recipe index… if my internet ever goes down around dinnertime we are in trouble!

  63. Jeanelle says:

    I love my Better Homes and Gardens cook book!

  64. Susan says:

    My favorite cookbook – Dorie Greenspan’s Baking – from My Home to Yours.

  65. Charity says:

    My most used cookbook would have to be the one I created myself, full of recipes that I’ve found on the web or that have been passed down to me by my mother.

  66. Melissa says:

    Hey Mel!
    I love Southern Living’s Cookbook. The Danish look delish!!

  67. Andria says:

    Those look tasty!! I don’t have a favorite, but lately I’ve been reading both Pioneer Woman’s newest and the Silver Spoon. The Silver Spoon is THE original Italian Cook book. It’s great because the recipes are ordered by main ingredient, so if you have a bunch of broccoli you want to use up, you just look up that section and away you go!

  68. Shannon says:

    I have a handful of cookbooks I go to regularly. But my Mom’s recipes are the best!

  69. shellybelly says:

    My ex mother-in-law’s old hospital workers charity cookbook!
    I LOVE America’s test kitchen.

  70. DEE says:

    I love Test Kitchen recipes and which busy mom wouldn’t mind a book from them with QUICK recipes!! My favorite cookbook is one I started to write when I was 13 years old with all the things I used to help my mom with. It looks really ragged now…but it has travelled with me everywhere!

  71. Erin says:

    I hardly ever use cookbooks now with the internet but when I do I pull out my moms bunco group cookbook. The girls put together all their favorite recipes for one of the ladies in their group who lost her home (and all her recipes) in a fire. It’s a great one. Those women sure can cook!

  72. Jenna says:

    The Morton Cookbook. A collection from people who live in Morton, IL where my parents live. I am sure i use this site more, but if you’re looking for a book title, I do own this one and use it.

  73. Michelle stewart says:

    I have a cookbook our church put together that I use tons.

  74. Erica says:

    I love the Taste of Home cookbooks!!

  75. Jaci says:

    My fav cookbook is one my bible study made up…no link for it, but our bible study is called Side By Side and a great ministry for medical spouses here in Rochester, MN.

  76. My most used love cookbook is Slow Cooker Revolution (by America’s Test Kitchen). I’ve never had anything that wasn’t a total success. Awesome.

  77. Rachel says:

    Cooking has always been hard for me. Trying out new recipes is scary to me because it may not be appreciated (and then for some reason I get down on myself). So needless to say, I don’t have a large collection of cookbooks. That’s why I LOVE your blog!!! Everything I make from your blog I know will be a hit with my family! Sooooo, I don’t cook from my cookbooks (because it is hit and miss). I cook from your blog! I would LOVE to have a recipe book that You recommend because I trust your judgement with recipes!! Thanks for sharing!

  78. Sandi says:

    my fav cookbook is from my grandma.

  79. Andrea says:

    I love a cookbook published by the children of a neighbor of mine called “Favorites of the Ivory Family”. She is a wonderful cook but too humble to embark on a project like this herself. She only agreed if the proceeds were donated to Make-A-Wish foundation. It is a great cookbook, especially for salads. If I have to make a salad to take somewhere I always use one from this book. They never fail to impress. I can’t wait until you publish a cookbook, Mel!

  80. Pat Corcoran says:

    My go to cookbook is the St. Bridget’s Nolan Settlement cookbook. It was published by church members at the church I went to while growing up. It has a lot of family recipes submitted by relatives. They are the best when they have been handed down and used over and over.

  81. Kathleen says:

    There are some amazing cooks in my extended family! So for the past year I have been taking the “homemade” family cookbook to bed with me. I just can’t seem to put it down!

  82. Sindy says:

    I don’t think that I can call myself a cook…but hope that I’m getting there for my family’s sake! I usually look online for recipes, but do use a cook book called Honey Do, written by my mother and sister-in-law! Thanks for all your awesome recipes. My family is loving it!

  83. Andrea says:

    my most used cookbook as of late is Our Best Bites

  84. Mandy says:

    I absolutely cannot live without my Marcy Goldman cookbooks!!!

  85. Janae says:

    My favorite and most used cookbook is our family cookbook which is a compilation of tried and true family recipes!

  86. Heather Hogge says:

    The most used cookbook in our house is the little spiral bound index cards that my MIL made for my husband when he went off to college.

  87. Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa At Home. It is wonderful, full of classics, and always right.

  88. Caroline says:

    Its a tie between the original Americas Test Kitchen and the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Would love to win this new cookbook- thanks for the giveaway!

  89. angie mitolo says:

    my favorite cookbooks are
    the best make ahead recipe – cooks illustrated
    the best international recipe-cooks illustrated

  90. Melina says:

    Yum! My go to favorite cookbook is the red plaid… Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. But, I’m!looking to add some new ones… any suggestions?

  91. Jessica F. says:

    I continually reach for my Betty Crocker cb for simple recipes and love to read the Alton Brown books for the science behind the food….I love to know the “why” behind my interests.
    These look easy and delish. Thanks for the contest!

  92. ~Shana Lynn~ says:

    I love Americas Test Kitchen Cookbook, and also my family cookbook!!! Ok, its a toss up, I love them both!!! Pick me!!! You’ll make my husbands & kids belly very happy!! πŸ™‚

  93. Shana says:

    Old school Betty Crocker!

  94. Cammee says:

    I have to have this cookbook. I find I have less and less time to cook the way I used to, so this sounds perfect! My favorite cookbook is one we had made as a fundraiser for my daughter’s dance team. It has some of the most yummy recipes and ones I use over and over.

  95. Sharon H. says:

    My “go-to” is Sunset’s Easy Basics for Good Cooking.

  96. Marcie says:

    I have lots of cookbooks, but probably my favorite is my Betty Crocker cookbook. Either that or my Lionhouse Cook Book. : )

  97. Amy Asistin says:

    My favorite cookbook is one my cousin made several years back, a collection of family recipes many from my grandmother.

  98. Chelsea A. says:

    I keep a binder full of recipes I’ve printed from different websites! For an actual cookbook, Giada’s Family Dinners is frequently taken off the shelf. πŸ™‚

  99. Christyn says:

    I have the “Best Recipe” collection, and I use them constantly….same publisher I believe….

  100. Ashley says:

    I’d have to say my most used cookbook would probably be Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I’m not vegan, but I love baking delicious, moist cupcakes so this is a big winner in my kitchen!

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