This beautiful Cherry Danish Christmas Tree doubles as both a scrumptious offering for a brunch-themed tea and as a pretty centerpiece for your holiday tablescape.
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon eggnog
- 1 (17.3-ounce) box puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed according to package directions
- ¼ cup cherry spreadable fruit*
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup pitted cherries
- Garnish: confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 400°. Line a 18×13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cream cheese and eggnog.
- Unfold puff pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out sheets to 13×11-inch rectangles.
- Transfer a puff pastry rectangle to prepared baking sheet. Using a knife, score a triangle with 11-inch-long sides and a 2-inch square at bottom for the Christmas tree and tree trunk into puff pastry rectangle.
- Spread cream cheese mixture over scored triangle, reserving ½ teaspoon mixture. Cover with second puff pastry sheet.**
- Using fingers, gently feel outline of cream cheese mixture. Using a sharp knife, score another 11-inch triangle with 2-inch square at bottom, matching Christmas tree outline of first puff pastry sheet as much as possible. (To avoid tearing parchment paper, press blade into puff pastry rather than sliding it.) Carefully trim away and reserve excess puff pastry from tree shape.
- Using a sharp knife, very lightly score ¾-inch-thick tree branches, following line of tree trunk. (Trunk should be wider near tree base and narrower at top.) Following the scored lines and pressing the knife blade straight down, cut branches into pastry tree.
- Working on one side of pastry tree at a time, gently peel back top puff pastry layer on each branch. Place a thin line of spreadable cherry on branches. Lightly press top and bottom puff pastry sheets together.
- Beginning at tree base, twist branches away from you. (Try to twist bottom branches twice.)
- Using a sharp knife or a star-shaped cutter, cut a star from puff pastry scraps. Place star on prepared baking sheet. Brush tree and star with egg.
- Bake until pastry is risen and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. (If tree trunk puffs too much during baking, pierce gently with a sharp knife.)
- Using a sharp knife, cut cherries in half. Using paper towels, dry cut sides of halved cherries to soak up extra liquid. Place halved cherries cut side down on puff pastry tree to resemble ornaments.
- Attach star to top of tree, using reserved ½ teaspoon cream cheese mixture as glue.
- *Garnish with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Serve immediately.
**To keep second puff pastry from stretching while being moved, loosely roll up second puff pastry sheet jelly roll style. Line up roll with top of first puff pastry sheet, and unroll puff pastry sheet to cover cream cheese mixture.
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