Friday, September 9, 2016

Tea Time with Brandy: Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Cheese Danishes with Nocciolata

When one likes to cook for as wide of a circle of friends as Brandy has, one certainly has to keep in mind a variety of dietary needs.  This is perhaps why Brandy's shelves are constantly stocked with a variety of flours, oils, and condiments so that she can whip up something delicious at a moment's notice for anyone who might stop by.

Lately Brandy has been trying to beef up her repertoire of dairy free baking recipes.  "It used to be almost impossible to think about baking without butter or milk, but now I know it can be done," she often tells herself while puttering around in the kitchen.  In fact, vegan alternatives are being made for almost everything these days, often times tasting just as good as their traditional versions, which Brandy discovered when she sampled a dairy free version of Nocciolata, a chocolate hazelnut spread from Italy.

Nocciolata-Dairy Free from Rigoni di Asiago is certified vegan, organic, non-GMO, gluten free and is made from a secret family recipe.  When Brandy first tasted this decadent treat, she found it just as rich as its milk laden alternative.  "I don't know how they kept this so creamy without using any cream!" Brandy exclaimed, "Oh, the things I could do with a rich spread like this."

Suddenly, she was struck with the idea of coming up with a recipe that could just as easily be made with dairy as without.  Taking Nocciolata's rich flavor as inspiration, Brandy combined it with the most desired dairy-based treat imaginable, i.e. cheesecake, and created a versatile filing that could be used in a variety of dishes.  Taking things in a brunchy direction, she created this simple and easy danish recipe that could easily be made completely dairy free by using vegan cream cheese and a dairy free puff pastry.

The writers of this blog were sent products free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Cheese Danishes

1 package of frozen puff pasty dough (defrosted)
1/2 cup of Nocciolata
1/2 a brick of cream cheese
2 tablespoons of sugar
whole hazelnuts for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Cut the puff pasty into squares of equal size (they can be bite sized or gigantic, just as long as all the pieces are of equal size).  Using a sharp knife or a cookie cutter, cut a circle out of the middle of half of the pieces.  Using a bit of water, stick the pieces with the hole cut out on top of the whole pieces.

In a medium bowl, whip together the cream cheese, sugar, and Nocciolata.  Spoon the mixture into the middle of the puff pasty pieces until they are level (the amount will vary based on the size of the danishes).  Bake the danishes on a greased baking pan for 15-20 minutes, or until the top it golden brown.  Top pastries with hazelnuts (alternatively, they can be topped with fresh berries or turbinado sugar) and serve warm.

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