6 of the Easiest Recipes Promising Pastry Perfection

Flaky, buttery, and rich pastries can be the best breakfasts, a supreme snack, or delightful dessert. Unfortunately, they can also be a pain to make, involving laborious efforts with tricky doughs — not a task everyone has the will or patience to tackle. The “cheater’s” way, of course, is to use frozen pastry dough, a method we completely back for its simplicity. Plus, you’re making pastries — who is going to care if you cut a few corners? Everyone will be too busy relishing one of the following six sweets to even notice the discarded frozen pastry dough wrappers and boxes.

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1. Palmiers

Also known as Elephant Ears, palmiers are beyond simple to make at home when you follow the recipe from Pepperidge Farms. You can leave out the cinnamon for a sugar version, or drizzle melted chocolate overtop of either version.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1 package (17.3 ounces) puff pastry sheets (2 sheets), thawed

Ingredients: Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork. Stir the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the work surface with the flour. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on the floured surface. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar mixture. Starting at both short sides, fold the pastry toward the center, leaving a 1/4-inch space in the center. Brush with the egg mixture and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar mixture. Fold one side over the other, making a 4-layer rectangle. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet.

Cut each rectangle into 12 (3/4-inch) slices, making 24 slices in all. Place the slices cut-side down, 2 inches apart on baking sheets, and brush with the egg mixture. Bake for 12 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and cool on wire racks.

Cut each rectangle into 12 (3/4-inch) slices, making 24 slices in all. Place the slices cut-side down, 2 inches apart on baking sheets, and brush with the egg mixture. Bake for 12 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and cool on wire racks.

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2. Apple Cream Cheese Pastry

Crescent rolls are often turned into croissants, but Yummy Healthy Easy has another use for them: a pastry ring. Of course, this isn’t just any pastry ring, with apple pie filling and cream cheese, it is a decadent breakfast or a new twist on apple pie for dessert. It makes about 8 to 12 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages crescent rolls
  • 1 (8-ounce) package light cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can apple pie filling
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons milk

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a pizza pan with cooking spray. Open both packages of crescent rolls and separate into 16 triangles. Arrange 12 triangles in a circle on the pizza pan, with wide edges on the outside of the pan and the points of the crescent triangles in the middle. Press the outer seams together, leaving the points in the middle alone.

To make the cream cheese filling, in a bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over the outer edges (about 2 inches wide) of the dough, within about a 1/2-inch of the edge. Spoon pie filling on top of the cream cheese layer. Now, take the points of the crescent triangles in the middle of the pizza pan and place them up over the filling, pressing the point into the outer edge. Make your way around the pan doing this, making a circle shape.

Cut the remaining 4 crescent triangles lengthwise into three strips. You will have 12 small triangle shaped pieces. Going around your circle, place the outer edges of the small triangles into the uncovered filling areas. There should be 12 “empty” spots to place your small triangles. Press the larger seams together on the outside of the ring and the points on the inside of the ring. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2-3 teaspoons milk and mix until smooth. Drizzle evenly over pastry. Slice into triangles and serve. Enjoy!

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3. Baklava

Having grown up in a Greek family, Michael Symon knows a thing or two about baklava. In his recipe for Food Network, he calls for zwieback crackers, or bread crumbs. Zwieback is a twice-baked bread, and the crackers are hard to come by. Another twice baked dessert you could try as a substitute would be biscotti.

Ingredients:

Baklava

  • 1 pound pistachios and/or walnuts, coarsely ground, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
  • 1 cup ground zwieback crackers or breadcrumbs
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 sheets phyllo dough (thawed, if frozen), cut in half

Syrup

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 6 -to-8-ounce jar honey
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the nuts, cinnamon, and ground crackers in a bowl. Brush a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with some of the butter. Layer 10 pieces of phyllo in the dish, brushing each piece with butter before adding the next (keep the remaining dough covered with a damp towel.) Sprinkle a quarter of the nut mixture over the dough. Layer 4 pieces of phyllo on top, brushing each with butter before adding the next; sprinkle with another quarter of the nut mixture. Add 4 more phyllo pieces on top, brushing each with butter, then add another quarter of the nut mixture, 4 more pieces of phyllo with butter, and the remaining nuts.

Layer the remaining 10 pieces of phyllo on top of the nuts, brushing each with butter; brush the top piece with extra butter. Cut into the baklava to make strips, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Then make diagonal slices, about 1 1/2 inches apart, to create a diamond pattern. Bake until golden, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Bring the sugar, honey and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and boil 2 more minutes, then let cool slightly. Pour the syrup over the warm baklava; let soak, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Garnish with nuts.

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4. Guava-Cream Cheese Pastries

This isn’t your usual cream cheese, fruit, pastry combo. That is mainly due to the fact that the recipe from Food & Wine calls for guava paste, which you can probably locate in your grocery store’s international section.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 (14-ounce) package all-butter puff pastry, thawed
  • 6 ounces guava paste, mashed
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, cut into 6 pieces and chilled
  • Sugar, for sprinkling

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with the milk. On a lightly floured work surface, unfold the puff pastry and cut it into 6 squares. Transfer the squares to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cut the guava paste into 6 equal portions and spoon onto half of each pastry square. Top with the cream cheese. Brush the pastry edges with some of the egg wash. Fold the pastry over the filling to form rectangles and crimp the edges with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, until firm.

Brush the pastries with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through, until the pastries are golden. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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5. Cheese Danish

If the guava eludes you, try this cheese Danish recipe from Ina Garten instead. You’ll still have flaky layers of pastry, only this time lightly flavored with lemon. The Barefoot Contessa also mixes up the cheese filling, opting for ricotta instead of cream cheese. It makes about Danish pastries.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water, for egg wash

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined.

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s a 10 x 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the four squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold two opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan.

Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes. Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

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6. Petits Pains au Chocolat

Care to make prepping the petits pains au chocolat from Bon Appétit even easier? You don’t have to do everything at once. You can make the pastry rolls 1 day in advance. Simply cover the pastries with plastic wrap and refrigerate them along with the remaining egg glaze. Then, the day of, take them out, and proceed to bake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry (one 17.3-ounce package), thawed, each sheet cut into 12 squares
  • 1 large egg beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon of water (for glaze)
  • 4 (3.5-ounce) bars bittersweet or milk chocolate, each cut into six 2 x 3/4-inch pieces
  • Sugar

Directions: Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush top of each puff pastry square with egg glaze. Place 1 chocolate piece on edge of 1 pastry square. Roll up dough tightly, enclosing chocolate. Repeat with remaining pastry and chocolate.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush tops of pastry rolls with remaining egg glaze. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake until pastries are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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