New Year’s Eve is a holiday I have little patience for and barely celebrate. I have two methods of coping: Either I leave the country for someplace that isn’t teeming with tourists and Best Night Ever! cavorters, or I stay home in my pajamas, drinking Champagne and eating something outrageously luxurious while watching old movies.
A few years ago I was going with Option 2 and hadn’t figured out what my lavish culinary indulgence would be. Then I read something Amanda Hesser wrote about her mother’s Danish, and I became dead set on perfecting my own. There was no kneading required, and I just had to proof the dough overnight in the fridge. Filling and twisting it was just as painless.
It was so good, I didn’t bother to let it cool and wait for the stupid ball to drop. I stood in my kitchen, ignoring everything else, as I stuck my fork in a slice, repeatedly, before cutting a second, larger piece. Later, when I got the idea to use pistachio paste in the filling, I knew I was going to see fireworks. Cherry and pistachio are a pastry power couple; theirs is a lusty, electric love for the ages. That first taste of Danish is like one of those Crash Davis–style “long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.” And now, December 31st can’t come soon enough.
For the dough:
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°F)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce packet)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 5 to 5 1/2 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the filling:
- 2/3 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup dark rum or other dark liquor
- 2 egg whites
- 3/4 cup packed pistachio paste
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1 egg yolk, for the egg wash
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
- 1 teaspoon sugar, for sprinkling
- 1/8 teaspoon salt, for sprinkling
This recipe appears in Charlotte Druckman's new book, Stir, Sizzle, Bake.