I Found My Thrill*: Freeform Blueberry “Cream Cheese” Danish (Grain Free, Anti-Candida, Vegan)

*Or, When Pizza Crust Eludes You, Make Danish

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Despite our reputation as perhaps the most polite and tolerant folks on the face of the planet (and let’s not forget “the funniest,” too), we Canadians are still divided on certain issues.  For instance, which is the better team, the Canadiens or the Maple Leafs? (What? Did I hear someone say, “Canucks“?).  Does my Canada include Quebec, or not? (Many Quebeckers think not). And which one is it–is our summer vacation getaway a “country house,” a “cottage” or “camp”? Well, if you were born in Montreal, as I was, it’s definitely a “country house.” 

Throughout my childhood during July and August, that’s where my parents took me and my sisters while we were on vacation from school.  Our country houses were seasonal rentals in a little French town called Val Morin, nestled in the Laurentian mountains. My parents would pack up the station wagon with boxes of summer clothes, pots, pans, dishes, towels and toys for the kids, and we’d make the 2-1/2 hour trek up north (always stopping in St. Jerome for ice cream, of course) before slowing to a stop in front a nondescript wooden edifice that could barely be called a “house.”  As children, though, we didn’t mind–we loved the musty, woody smell of the walls, the rusted bathroom water that flowed for 5 minutes before we could brush our teeth, the flecks of grass strewn across the living room floor where we’d tracked them in with our bare feet (since we almost never donned shoes during the entire two months there). 

Once the boxes were unpacked and the kitchen set up, Dad would linger for the day and then, next morning, make the trip back to Montreal for the work week. From then on, we saw him on weekends only.

Our last summer up north, we rented one of six identical houses laid out in a horseshoe, in a meadow not too far from the beach. That house stands out in my mind for its lack of hot water during the first two weeks we lived there (Mom was not too happy, let me tell you), the wasps’ nest right beside the front door (which we learned to avoid by bending low to the ground as if scouting anthills, then swerving round from the waist and ducking through the open door with our hands clasped to our heads), and the bunk beds I shared with The Nurse.  In fact, it was that very summer when I first began to appreciate literature courtesy of my older sister: each night after we got into bed, The Nurse used a flashlight to read one chapter aloud from Little Women, complete with different accents for each character.  It was there in the dark that I fell in love with Jo and Laurie and Marmie, their disembodied voices wafting down from above, a beam of light flickering above me like a beacon transporting their words in the dark.

Val Morin was also remarkable for the few attractions in or near the village.  For instance, did you know that Val David was the summer residence of Santa Claus? It’s true: his eponymous Village was situated just before the final highway exit to the town. I never did manage to catch of glimpse of the rotund Red One during the summer (I was likely too busy making sand castles on the beach or toasting marshmallows in the evenings), but I did manage to enjoy the other major attraction, a huge Go-Kart track along the roadside which I was always too young to ride until the very last summer we spent there.  When I finally did whirl around the track a few times, I thought it hadn’t been worth all the hype (sort of like when I finally got my first boyfriend after being jealous of my friends all those years). 

The end of town was also where we found Blueberry Hill, one of the rolling hillsides that rose up suddenly like a movie set behind the post office and corner store. On weekends when my dad was in town, the CFO and I would each grab a plastic sandpail and trot along behind him along the dirt road, through the village to the foot of the hill.  Then we’d climb along the path to the top and work our way down, picking wild blueberrise as we went. Our intention was to each fill a pail with the tiny indigo gems and bring them back to my mom so she could bake up her famous Blueberry Coffee Cake for the weekend. 

Of course, the CFO and I couldn’t resist eating the supplies along the way, and inevitably we’d reach the bottom of the hill with our pails only half full, and our distended stomachs already in full protest after being stuffed with all the juicy, matte berries we could shove into our mouths (which were now unevenly lined with deep purple dye). Luckily, my dad always managed to fill his own large basket to the brim, so we never did without cake.

Even though my favorite way to consume blueberries is still fresh, on their own, I thought I’d re-create a favorite of the HH’s for this month’s SOS Challenge focusing on blueberries.  After he takes The Girls for their weekend jaunt through the local trails, the HH stops at Tim Hortons for a large coffee and a baked good; sometimes (but not too often) a Carrot Muffin, occasionally a croissant, or, most often, a blueberry and cream cheese danish. Aha! 

Those of you who follow me on Facebook or twitter may remember that I had been working on a bean-based pizza crust.  As I mentioned on Facebook, the flavor was great, but the texture was a bit too soft and cakelike for pizza. Well, I decided that the dough would be much more suited to a sweet treat than a pizza–and adding blueberries seemed like a great idea. Since the dough was too soft to roll out, I opted for a freeform shape. 

Once baked up, these pastries have a somewhat scone-like, somewhat cake-like texture: dense but not overly so, yet the perfect level of firmness to support a layer of cream cheese topped with a heap of blueberries.  When baked, the bottoms become deep golden, while the tops retain their pale hue (you can brush them with oil or milk if you prefer a browner surface). They’re not overly sweet–just a dusting of coconut sugar over the berries–but I loved the contrast of the fresh, juicy berry topper against the silky smooth “cheese” filling.

Although I wouldn’t say that these are actually much like “real” danish–they aren’t flaky in the least–these confections are substantially fruity, creamy, and crusty in a way that evokes rural evenings in country, a lakeside breeze kissing your cheeks, sand between your toes.  Serve these up in the evening after a long day spent at the beach, or riding Go-Karts, or picking berries. Paired with a pitcher of fresh lemonade, they’re great served up to family and friends as they lounge out on the deck of your country house. Or cottage. 

 

This is my submission to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

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Last Year at this Time: Layered Mexican Casserole

Two Years Ago: Blog Break

Three Years Ago: Prufrock Special (Chilled Peach Soup)

© Ricki Heller

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Comments

  1. These look awesome wow! And white beans? I would have never thought to put those in pie crust. You’re creativity amazes me!

  2. Wow!!! Talk about creative in the kitchen! I cannot WAIT to try these!

  3. Wow, how incredibly creative! I have been baking gluten-free, but baking grain-free is a whole other challenge! I have been using cashew cream in place of lots of rich dairy products, and love it!

  4. Oh my! These look divine, blueberries are just the best. I’ve actually just finished my breakfast of creamy steel cut oats with blueberries/strawberries and blueberry maple syrup:)
    Definitely bookmarked this one!
    Thank you

  5. as soon as I saw the title of the post I thought of richie c off happy days singing I found my thrills on blueberry hills – never heard the song anywhere else

    amazed to hear your went away for the whole summer – I can’t imagine us doing that – though we were only a short drive from the beach and went there a lot

    yummy pastries – love blueberry and cream cheese – even cursed that I just used up my raw cashews when I saw the cream cheese recipe

  6. What wonderful summer memories! And these Danishes look great. I love how beans work well in baked goods, but it’s genius that you used them in your cream cheese too!

  7. Oh, Ricki! What an idyllic childhood you had! Beautifully written, too; I felt like I was reading one of my beloved childhood “American Girls” storybooks!

    • Thanks, Hannah. I’m not sure I dare disabuse you of that notion. . . but not exactly what I’d call “idyllic.” I was a fat kid who was self-concsious most of the time and didn’t participate in anything even vaguley “sports-like”. . . . but the summers in the country were fun! :)

  8. Ooooh, yummmm. I NEED to work in the yard but I WANT to bake instead! Severe internal conflict of interest here ;-) Yes, pizza-crust-redefined is on my priority list also. Rita and I are trying to tamp down the GI factor – it will be interesting!

  9. Ricki,

    Wow! These look so yummy! This looks healthy enough to have for breakfast too!
    Thanks for sharing this!
    Happy summer to you!

  10. Mmmmm, vegan danish?! Sounds delicious! I’m also very, very interested in your bean pizza crust! You are a marvel, my dear!

  11. Ok, to answer your questions, one Canadian to another…Maple Leafs (sorry but I can’t help not being loyal), Quebec is hands down, included!!!! and cottages. Actually, I have never heard of the term country house but I am from Ontario so…. :)
    Ok, those blueberry danishes looks so soft and comforting. I wish I had more than myself to cook for sometimes that way I would have an excuse to make lots and lots of treats (thereby, eating lots and lots of them).

  12. Very interesting. I haven’t done much with pastries lately. Perhaps it’s time to change that, eh?

  13. You are a genius Ricki! These look and sound amazing. I love the sweet cashew cream too – with white beans! My fave way to consume blueberries is by the handful too. So good as they are. But I do love them in a baked good. One day these babies will be cooling on my counter! xo

    • I promise you don’t taste the beans in the cheese spread! It just makes it a little lighter on the fat content. :) And while I loved these danish, nothing beats blueberries out of hand! :)

  14. Sorry, in Vancouver it’s a cabin. Us west coasters are a little more casual. :)

    Go Canucks! Um, lets just forget about that last game, shall we?

  15. These look amazing :) !!!! The only sweet type thing I’ve ever made with beans was black bean brownies but these look a million times better.

  16. I’ve recently been made aware of my food intolerances and I am bewildered and a bit depressed. I love food and I am already missing my cupcakes! I’ve already made changes to my diet but have yet to start my anti-candida diet. I’m so grateful I stumbled upon your blog while searching for tips on how to get started.

    Where in Toronto do you get stevia and your favorite ingredients? I live in NY now, but will be back home for a week or two in the summer.

    Thank you for being such an inspiration!

    • Thanks so much, Keith! I am so glad the blog is helpful. I buy almost all my supplies at Ambrosia Natural Foods on Doncaster (one block north of Steeles off Yonge Street in Toronto). I also order raw products from Upaya Naturals. For anything I can’t get at either of those, I go to Nature’s Emporium in Newmarket (a bit of a hike, but they usually have everything). Having said that, I can’t find my favorite brand of stevia (which is NuNaturals) in Toronto–I don’t think they have it in Canada yet. But since you’re in New York, you should be able to find it easily there.

      Good luck with the diet–it’s challenging at the beginning, but does get easier! (And if you have any questions you’d like answered, I’d love to answer them on the Candida FAQ page if you leave them in the comments!). :)

  17. Wow, these look great! I love that they are made with white beans! I’ve started baking with black beans with great success, and now need to try white beans!

  18. I made these last night. The best part was the “cream cheese”! I had made savoury versions of cashew cheese before but sweet is even better. I added some lemon zest to the mixture and left out the beans. For the danishes themselves, I made 4 using mango, blueberry, strawberry or blackberry. I found the dough very wet so I couldn’t make the “wall” but they baked just fine. I could taste the beans in the dough but if you didn’t tell anyone, they might not notice ;) Good GF treat!

  19. these look amazing, and I will definitely be making them, but I have always been told that when on an anti-Candida diet, you can consume no fruit or sugar of any kind. Just curious if I’m missing something because I’m five days into the diet and could really go for a treat right now! Thanks!

    • Hi Jen,
      Thanks for your comment! And good luck with the diet–it can be tough at the beginning. I’m in Stage 3 of the diet, so I’ve already re-introduced some fruits and the occasional use of coconut sugar (which is low glycemic). I usually state the suitablility of each recipe for whatever stage of the diet right under the title–forgot this time, and have added it now. :) I also recently introduced ACD tags for each recipe, so if you check the tags at the bottom of the post, you’ll see that this one is tagged as “ACD Stage 3″ and “ACD Maintenance.” In other words, this is a “special occasion” treat on the diet. You can check out more information about the diet on the Side Notes page or the Candida FAQ page. Hope that helps!

  20. I altered your recipe to meet my needs (only gluten-free, not vegan, sugar-free, or candida) and they were DELICIOUS!!! I’ve already started making other flavor varieties.

    http://asgoodasgluten.blogspot.com/2011/06/blueberry-cream-cheese-danishes.html

  21. Okay, I’m back again, this time to link up my blueberry smoothie recipe! Thanks for hosting!

  22. Great post, Ricki. I loved the description of typically Canadian (and Quebecois) traits and qualities. I’ve never had a country house, but amongst friends we’ve also used the term “chalet” to refer to cottages.

    Your danishes look splendid. We have an abundance of frozen blueberries, and this seems like a good, delicious, and healthy way to use ‘em up (I usually eat blueberries every morning in my oatmeal, but I’ve been in Italy for two months, which explains the sudden abundance). Thanks for sharing this. Cheers :)

  23. This is one cool mix of things.. the danishes look super yummy!.. another blueberry recipe to the to do list!

  24. forgot to book mark this page, and finally found it again! thanks for answering me so thoroughly. i made it a month into the diet before giving in a bit, ate a whole wheat hamburger bun, and some blueberries…they’re my weakness!…but i’m back to the diet. looking forward to making these soon-ish!

    • Congrats, Jen! I’d say you’ve been very successful–whole wheat is still whole grain, and blueberries are, well, awesome. :)

  25. Your country house vacations sound amazing. :) So does this danish! I’m intrigued by the different ways I’ve seen people using beans recently. I’d way rather eat your danish than a Tim Horton’s one!

  26. Any thoughts on substituting the oil?

    • Mekkie, I haven’t made it any other way, but if I were to try, I’d use a combination of coconut oil and unsweetened applesauce. Are you looking to replace all the oil, or just that type of oil?

  27. Do you think I could use yogurt instead of cashew cheese? Or can you make other nut cheeses if there’s an allergy to cashews?

    • Virgina, I don’t think yogurt would work here–the cheese is quite thick (maybe strained yogurt?). I’d use macadamia nuts as the best sub for cashews if you can’t use cashews. . . or maybe hazelnuts. Hope you can have one of those! :)

  28. Can’t wait to make this!! :D *bounce* Looks so decadent and indulgent – I’m sure I can rustle up an “occasion” to make these :D

  29. hi rikki……..nice to finally meat a canadian food blogger………………in reading your posts i saw that you mentioned Natures
    Emporium in Newmarket Ont……….i go to Newmarket quite a bit (family and friends there) ……my question is…..where exactly in Newmarket is this store……………..it would help me greatly rather than drive around trying to find it as friends and family all eat the old fashioned way……………2 1/2 yr ago i became a diabetic but found soon enough i am controlling it by diet….no sugar – low carb………….will definately be making these tomorrow as i have all the ingredients here in the house….yeah
    will be watching your recipies closely…………………edna from midland ontario

    • Hi Edna,
      Thanks so much for your comment, and for reading! I believe it’s at Mulock and Yonge in Newmarket, though I haven’t been there for a while since they’ve opened a store closer to where I live in Maple! Here’s their website: http://www.naturesemporium.com/ It should have a map on there. I hope you enjoy the danish!
      –Ricki :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Diet Dessert and Dogs shared Freeform Blueberry “Cream Cheese” Danishes [...]

  2. [...] This post was submitted to the June 2011 SOS Challenge over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. [...]

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