The Show Must Go On

Greetings from 30,000 feet above Earth! That’s right- I’m currently on my way to Portland, staring out the tiny reinforced plastic window at the clouds below. Up above the thunderstorms that are brewing back at home, the weather (or lack thereof) is bright, sunny, and quite lovely*. But never mind the location; there’s nothing that would stop this Daring Baker from posting on time!

Venturing closer to the territory of puff pastry, croissants, and other meticulously layered pastries, the Daring Bakers chose to take on the impressive Danish braid. Although not difficult per say, it does take a good deal of patience and advanced planning. Requiring two hours total to rest between the four turns, and then a final stay in the fridge overnight, this is no last-minute project. Naturally, I waited just about as long as possible to create my second braid.

Second? Yes, second. Sure, the first one worked out just fine and my cherry-chocolate filling tasted great, but I was dead-set on redoing the challenge before the deadline. You see, it was the pictures that were total failures! Knowing that there would be so many beautiful braids on display, I could hardly feel good about sharing something as amateurish as this:

Of course, I had halved the dough figuring that the extra would only waste space in our already pastry-filled kitchen, so I had to start back at the beginning again. Instead of going exactly by the book as per my first Danish, I decided that in this revised version I would omit the cardamom and orange zest, and just for comparison, replace the egg with soy yogurt instead of flax seed as I had previously. Sad to say, this made for a wetter and more finicky dough, and the photos came out even worse this time around, but all said and done, I couldn’t have cared less; it was drop-dead delicious.

Going against tradition and specifically creating a filling that wasn’t fruit-based, this concoction inspired by the flavors German chocolate cake, featuring a wallop of coconut and dark chocolate chips. Thankfully, all the hassle was more than worth the effort, as everyone raved that this version was even better than the first. I have to agree- That filling was so good, I must sheepishly admit that I ate a good portion of it plain, on a spoon. The good news is that the recipe, adapted from the Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen, makes much more than will fit inside a Danish braid, so the extra bites won’t be missed!

German Chocolate Filling

1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Soymilk, Divided
1/3 Cup Cornstarch
1 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3 Cups Sweetened Desiccated Coconut
1 Cup Chopped Pecans

1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Thoroughly mix together 2 tablespoons of the soymilk with all of the cornstarch so that there are no lumps, and set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the remaining soymilk and sugar, and set it on the stove over medium heat. Pour in the cornstarch slurry and whisk vigorously so that the contents of the pot are homogeneous. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it has significantly thickened and bubbles begin to break on the surface. Turn off the heat and mix in the coconut and pecans. Let it cool completely before stirring in the chocolate chips. Stuff into pastries, use it to top cupcakes, or eat it on toast!

*Coming back down into that stormy atmosphere was a whole different story… I’ve never experienced lightning quite like that before!