Holidays, Easy Cheese Danish & a Giveaway

Time to get ready for the holidays!  Would it help to talk preparation, snacking (easy cheese Danish) and gift giving? 

Easy Cheese Danish

Easy Cheese Danish

 Are you as surprised as I am to be hearing Christmas music?  While my gut reaction was, “Gee it’s early,” I quickly realized something important. 

If I start preparing now, I might just be ready for the holidays… with time left to enjoy myself!  

One of my best Christmases ever was on a year where I was ready early.  That fall, I moved to a new job, where a friend had one caution—in IT financial services, end of year was killer busy. 

Her advice?  Have your house decorated and buy your gifts by the end of black Friday.  After that, just work and have fun.  And despite prodigious overtime, it WAS one of our best holidays!  

Gift Giving Prep

Yes, being prepared is so important that I even buy things like candles, tea towels and special foods to have on hand.  Then when someone drops by unexpectedly with a gift, or my daughter announces she needs a gift for her band teacher (today), or I realize a dinner host doesn’t drink, there is no need for a desperate, last minute trip to the store

It even works for bigger surprises.  If your BFF brings you a gift–even though you said no gifts, you can pull together a “basket” that includes, hmm, McCrea’s Caramels and Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Sugar, like in a package I just received.

Gift Box

Gift Box

Yes, I was really excited to get a beautiful package from Nielsen-Massey (the well-known maker of killer-good vanilla & other premium flavorings) and McCrea’s Candies (an award-winning candy maker with the goal of making the world’s best caramel-mmm!).  The box came with two flavors of premium caramel, vanilla decorating sugar and coffee extract which are all perfect for giving. 

Except that it’s so good I’m keeping it for myself :-).  And there is one available to a lucky reader in the giveaway below! 

The caramels are all natural (no corn syrup) and I broke into them before I even did the blog photo (can you tell I retaped the container?).  They are rich and delicious, which I think is key around the holidays—you are satisfied before you gain six pounds.  I loved working with the coffee extract in a Coffee Chocolate Chip Angel Food Cake recently, and baking wouldn’t be the same without decorating sugar (including the recipe below).  And decorating sugar is even better with the great vanilla flavoring (you can layer your flavors!)! 

So, as you prepare for the holidays, keep in mind the following… How many people do you need to thank?  How many parties will you attend?  Will you want to reciprocate any surprise gifts?  Do you want to incorporate specialty food products into your regular giving?

And… perhaps you want to gift yourself?  

Easy Cheese Danish 

cut puff pastry

Pastry sheet can be cut along “fold”, then each section cut in half. Just thaw enough to bend if you only want to use part.

Prep Danish

Make a shallow cut (score) about 1/2 inch from the edge of each piece of pastry, then prick the inside with a fork. Spread filling inside cut and brush egg wash and sprinkle sugar on the outside edge

In keeping with the idea of holiday fun, I tried out some easy cheese Danish, topped with pears and vanilla sugar.  They come together quickly, using frozen puff pasty and mascarpone and my husband suggested I have them every day when he gets home from work.  Even if the cheese filling spilled out sometimes, they were always delicious and I’m going to serve them to guests over Thanksgiving. 

Easy Cheese Danish with Pears & Vanilla Sugar

Easy Cheese Danish with Pears & Vanilla Sugar

While relaxing (did I mention they were easy?). 

Gift Box

Gift Box

And now for the giveaway…

It’s for a box like the one above (a $62 value) and is sponsored by Nielsen-Massey and McCrea’s.  The giveaway is open to mailing addresses in the US and ends at midnight CST on November 19. To enter, leave a comment below telling me what your biggest gift giving challenge is. For a second entry, subscribe to my new blog (A Year of Eating Locally) and leave a second comment on this post telling me you did (or that you are already a subscriber). The winner will be picked randomly, contacted by email and have 24 hours to get back to me with mailing information or a new winner will be chosen.  

4.8 from 42 reviews
Easy Cheese Danish
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Made from frozen puff pastry, with mascarpone and sliced fruit, this Easy Cheese Danish is as easy as it is tasty!
Serves: 6
  • 1 egg, beaten & divided
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (1/2 box)
  • 1 pear (or other sliceable fruit like peach or apple)
  • coarse sugar (like Nielsen-Massy vanilla sugar)
  1. Beat egg and remove about a tablespoon to a separate small bowl (to use later for egg wash).
  2. Pour remaining egg, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla into mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer until well-blended.
  3. Cut the puff pastry sheet into 6 sections (each will be around 4 x 5 inches). Roll each section of pastry sheet on wax paper to approximately 5 x 5 inches.
  4. Make a shallow cut (score) about a half inch from the edges of the tart. Prick the inside with a fork or knife (see picture above).
  5. Spread the inside section with a heaping spoon of the cheese mixture. Top with two thin slices of pear (or other fruit).
  6. Mix the reserved egg with a teaspoon of milk or water to make an egg wash. Brush the tart edges with egg wash and sprinkle decorating sugar.
  7. Using a thin spatula, transfer to a lightly sprayed or parchment covered baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for approximately 15 minutes, until golden.
  8. Let cool slightly or completely before serving.


221 thoughts on “Holidays, Easy Cheese Danish & a Giveaway

  1. Jeffrey

    My biggest gifting challenge is buying for my parents. No way to sugar coat it, they are old and buy whatever they want/need whenever the need arises. Plus, they have everything. Lately, we’ve been taking them on trips which seems to work out. They get to spend time with their grandkids in fun environments. My Dad is a chocoholic, so baked goods always works, but my mom doesn’t like him eating too many sweets!

  2. Darlene Owen

    My biggest gift giving challenge is for my husband as he has everything he needs and if during the year he needs anything he just goes and buys it.

  3. Angela Saver

    My biggest gift giving challenge is buying for my parents because they have been married over 50 years, and literally have everything! Thanks for the great giveaway!

    [email protected]

  4. Jenny S

    Shopping for teenage girls is tough. They never like the clothes I pick out and want only electronics which is boring for me as the gift giver.

  5. David

    Lovely danish, Inger! Will definitely try it!

    Biggest gift giving challenge? Wishing I had enough money to give to all the local charities that need it. That’s actually true – no gift-giving for us any longer… only donations to charity. We need nothing, and there is so much need out there…

  6. Tim

    The biggest issue with getting anybody a gift is not knowing what they need. We send everyone baked goods, which I am pretty sure they eat!!

  7. cheri

    My biggest issue is the ones that come up suddenly which you had a great idea. Buy something in anticipation or a back up is a great idea. thanks!!

    Love, the Danish!

  8. Julie R

    My biggest gift challenge is finding the time to shop ahead. I always wait until the last minute and spend more than I should.

  9. Denise Johnson

    My biggest challenge is finding something for my Dad. He’s just hard to shop for. Also, finding good prices can be a challenge.

  10. Susan Christy

    My biggest gift giving challenge is finding something for my nephew that has every toy in the world and doesn’t want clothes.

  11. Ally

    My husband’s usually (comparatively) easy as we spend so much time together, so I can just write down ideas all year as he mentions that it would be nice to have something. It’s harder for my parents and sister (and BIL), though, as we don’t spend as much time together (and because my mother tends to order things immediately through Amazon whenever anyone mentions wanting something)!

  12. Karen (Back Road Journal)

    I can certainly see why your husband would want one of your cheese danish every day, I would too. 🙂 We don’t exchange gifts anymore except with one couple but I always have an unmarked gift or two under the tree if someone surprises us. The gifts I pick are something I would enjoy keeping as well as gifting. Your sugars and caramels are a terrific idea.

  13. Pat

    My biggest gift giving challenge is for my son-in-law. I don’t see him that often and he never mentions what he would like to have.

  14. Elizabeth

    I would say my biggest gift giving challenge is my husband’s grandparents. I never know what they want!

  15. beth

    My biggest gift giving challenge is for my boyfriend because he never comes out and tells me what he wants.

  16. Karen D

    My biggest challenge is finding the right gift for folks who can buy whatever they want. So I often gift food.

  17. Gladys

    My biggest challenge would be getting gifts for my best friends because we can now each get on our own whatever we want and since we don’t see each other often, we don’t know what each person already has.

  18. julie

    my biggest challenge are my brothers kids-they are impossible to shop for and only appreciate gift cards

  19. Kristen Dingess

    My step-dad is the HARDEST person to purchase a gift for. It’s a struggle every.single.year.

  20. Maureen Ruble

    My biggest gift giving challenge is to find that “perfect” gift that is fun but yet still practical. It sure is fun trying to find those gifts though, especially when “it” turns up. P.S. Your cheese danish recipe looks perfect for Christmas morning. Thanks!

  21. Danielle Porter

    Mine is definitely for my husband. There isn’t much he wants, but he doesn’t get stuff he needs. But who wants to give him underwear for Christmas?!

  22. Missy Schutz

    My biggest gift challenge is my Mom. She always gives things back that I gift her! She says”I;m really not going to use this”!

  23. Melissa

    I always find it hard to buy gifts for my nieces and nephews I haven’t seen for a while. I sometimes forget they’re not little anymore and it’s hard to know what their interests are!

  24. Chelsey

    My biggest challenge is money. I am a stay at home mom, so we’ve chosen to give up my income. It is a sacrifice easily made until the holidays roll around

  25. Allyson Tice

    my biggest challenge is finding gifts for my teenagers! i hate giving gift cards so i have to think outside the box this year!

  26. Carolsue

    My biggest gift giving challenge is my husband. Every year, I hear this: “I don’t need anything!” He is impossible to come up with ideas for!

  27. Cassie Dow

    I think my biggest gift giving challenge is my dad. I just never know what to get him. He has six kids and we mostly get him shirts and cashews

  28. Deborah N.

    My biggest gift challenge is my parents. They are planning on downsizing their house so they definitely don’t need any more things. Gift cards seem impersonal. It is just so hard.

  29. Jasmine Henry

    My Mother is the hardest to shop for. She isn’t much for clothing, doesn’t wear cosmetics, and doesn’t wear jewelry!

  30. Chris L

    My biggest gift giving challenge is finding things that people want/need but I can still afford to buy.

  31. Melaie

    My godfather, men in general are hard. But he has everything or can get anything he wants. But worst, he’s not very materialistic. How many books and bottles of wine can I get?

  32. Helga

    My biggest gift giving challenge is my fiancee. He doesn’t need much and he has all he needs!

  33. Cheryl Brown

    My biggest gift giving challenge is finding things people really want or enjoy. As my children get older it gets harder and harder.

  34. Geoff

    My biggest challenge is buying gifts for my fiance. I know what she likes and wants, but the hard part is making it a surprise.

  35. Stacie Humphrey

    My biggest gift giving challenge is buying for the older kids in the family. They don’t want toys anymore and I’m not sure what to get them.

  36. Donna DePaolo

    My biggest gift-giving challenge is what to buy someone who has limited space? I want a gift to be welcomed but, not a bother. Happy Holidays!

  37. Dana

    My biggest challenge is finding a gift for adult family members with food restrictions. Food is my go-to!

  38. Mary Beth Elderton

    My biggest challenge is my tween grand-daughter. Kids are fine–hot toys! The Teens are okay–Gift Cards always work, if nothing else comes to mind. But tweens?
    I’m stuck.

  39. robin s.

    My dad is my biggest challenge to buy for at Christmas. I always say what do I get someone who has everything already. I even ask him to give me some ideas of what he would like me to get him. Hopefully, this year my mom can help me figure it out.

  40. Becky VanGinkel

    My biggest gift giving challenge is picking gifts for my nieces and nephews that they don’t already have, and will love! I love getting gifts for our family members that are their favorite gifts ever, so I spend a lot of time finding out what they’re each into at the time, and what they want! It’s definitely worth it in the end <3

    [email protected]

  41. Josie R

    The older people in my life like grandparents are always tough to buy for as well as my boss.

  42. Sarah L

    My biggest gift giving challenge is my sister. No matter what I get her, she doesn’t like it.
    Thanks for the contest.

  43. Jennifer Hess

    My biggest challenge is my teenage kids and adult kids. They are so picky and have expensive taste.

  44. heather

    My biggest gift giving challenge is shopping for the men in the family it is like I am lost and am always looking for ideas of things they would like and use.

  45. debbie

    My biggest gift giving challenge is for my parents. They are 85 and have all that is necessary for a satisfied life.

  46. Jill H

    Money is a challenge and trying to be creative to gift time or homemade items to those I want to bless.

  47. Joanna Peter

    My biggest gift giving challenge is certain friends. With family we share lists, but friends don’t so it’s harder to get something that feels really special.

  48. karen

    My biggest challenge is for my sister’s kids – it always feels like a test that I am doomed to fail.

  49. dianne hall

    What an awesome set! My challenge every year is for buying for my in laws. I have no idea what they need.

  50. Kenny

    Certain people are so hard to buy for. I’m not a fan of buying gifts for men: my dad and brother. No idea what to get them.

  51. Elizabeth

    My biggest problem when shopping for gifts is I usually want one too lol. I always find fun things for my sisters and mom and want the same thing!

  52. Nicki

    My husband always says he doesn’t want/need anything so I have a hard time figuring out a good gift. I usually go the practical route.

  53. Wendy Nowicki

    My husband is hard to buy Christmas presents for because he would rather me spend money on our children.

  54. moll j

    I consider myself a minimalist and I don’t like to contribute to waste or give a gift that might one day end up in a landfill, so I sometimes struggle to find just the right gift for everyone that is going to make them happy, be of use, and not end up as waste. Thankfully, there are some great organizations like World Vision that always have some wonderful ideas.

  55. moll j

    I also just subscribed to your new blog, and I love it! Wow, I am impressed and jealous of your canned food stash!!

  56. Tamra H

    I always have the hardest time finding gifts for my father in law. Actually, guys in general are just difficult to buy for!

  57. Kim O

    My biggest gift giving challenge is my parents. they are now in their 70’s, my dad has about everything and the only thing i buy now is clothes which can get old. my mom is very picky and has different taste so something i like she wouldn’t.

  58. Sabrina Zehner

    My husband is the biggest challenge I have. He normally just buys stuff he needs and doesn’t really want random stuff. So I attempt to get him stuff that fixes issues he doesn’t realize he has. So far I’ve not done to bad.

  59. Marilyn Holt

    I am on a tight budget and I have kids that live in another state. The challenge is to find them great gift’s while being affordable and not ding me too bad in shipping!! I miss the years being together. Maybe next year that can happen. I subscribed and the Cheese Danish looks heavenly! I will be checking out more recipes.

  60. Marilyn Holt

    I subscribed and the Cheese Danish looks heavenly! I will be checking out more recipes. I already hit sent before I realized it was to be sent separately.

  61. Katrina Brockavich

    My biggest gift giving challenge is the people that will buy for themselves whatever it is they want! That leaves me clueless as to what to buy them that they will actually like and use.

  62. Dana Rodriguez

    My biggest challenge is buying for my fiance’ because when he wants something he just goes and buys it! That danish looks delicious!

  63. Dana Rodriguez

    I keep getting this when I try to subscribe ~ There was an error when subscribing. Please try again.

  64. Samantha Plotkin

    My biggest gift giving challenge is keep track of everything after I’ve bought it but before I wrap it!

  65. Julie Waldron

    My biggest gift giving challenge is finding gifts for my father in law and son in law. They are both so hard to buy for!

  66. Lauren Becker

    My biggest challenge is usually buying for my dad. He doesn’t really want or need a lot!

  67. Christine Labelle

    My biggest challenge is shopping for my girls right now. They are 12 and 13 and are at the in between stage so it’s hard to find things they want.

  68. Fazeela Chung

    My biggest gift giving challenge is getting something for my best friend. She is quite picky but likes unique things!

  69. jberry

    We travel for work and it’s hard sometimes to have enough room when you find the “perfect” gift.

  70. Wendy Pesce

    My hardest person to buy for this yer is my mom. she has Lewy body Dementia, and is in a memory care unit. last year she still was ‘there’ and I was still able to choose meaningful gifts. This year, she is fading, and I just can’t think of things to give her that would still be meaningful

  71. april

    My biggest challenge is trying to stick within our budget. I love to give gifts and sometimes its hard not to be able to give as much as I would like to!

  72. Dee

    My biggest gift-giving challenge is my youngest niece. She loves books but reads voraciously, so when it comes time to choose a few to order for her it’s tough because she’s most likely already read them!

  73. Annamarie V

    My biggest challenge is for my one and a half year old grand niece, she has lots of people buying for her and I would love to gift her money but her parents don’t have a savings account for her yet.

  74. Helen

    My biggest gift challenge is the men on my list. You can always find something for women and children, but the men seem to be so much more difficult.

  75. Kelly McGrew

    My biggest challenge is getting people gifts that they can use and not just throw into a closet or storage. We are thinking next year to do a secret Santa with a low budget of $10-15 because honestly the adults don’t need anything and it’s more for the kids and the less fortunate! 🙂

  76. Melinda A

    My biggest challenge is finding gifts that are meaningful and thoughtful while staying in budget. I find myself getting worn out searching for the ‘perfect’ gift and end up just grabbing something.

  77. Marissa C

    My biggest gift giving challenge is figuring out how to make the gift personal. Thinking past the obvious and really considering the other person’s personality helps! Sometimes it doesn’t! But either way, you learn.

  78. Marissa M

    My biggest struggle is finding gifts for the people in my life that have everything! I want it to be a meaningful yet useful gift!

  79. susan smoaks

    i always have a hard time finding the right gifts for my friends and family members. they all have much different idea of great presents then I have.

  80. Darlene Owen

    My biggest problem is finding something for my husband as he has everything. When he does need something during the year he buys it.

  81. Trish

    My biggest gift giving challenge is finding just the right gift for my Mom because she has everything! It is fun searching for something she will enjoy though.

  82. Becky N

    I have trouble picking out gifts for most anyone, because I like to find someone something they couldn’t or wouldn’t just buy for themselves.

  83. Courtney

    My Father-in-law is my biggest challenge. If he wants something he buys it himself. I never know what to get him!

  84. Jennie

    It seems like what my family wants, they buy. Hard to think of something they don’t already have.

  85. Liza Coulter

    My biggest challenge is shopping for my parents. Their birthdays and Christmas are close together, and I use up my good idea on birthday presents!

  86. Mary Gardner

    My biggest gift giving challenge is finding things for my grown children. They tend to buy whatever they want or need for themselves and never ask for anything so I am at a loss.

  87. Kate S

    The challenge is to think of meaningful gifts for everyone so everyone feels special and no-one misses out!

  88. Ani W

    My biggest gift giving challenge is finding something that doesn’t break the bank for my 14 year old.

  89. Stephanie Kennedy

    My biggest challenge is getting EVERYONE on board with no big gift giving. I love the gifts of home made goodies (foods, crafts) as they mean more.

  90. wen budro

    My biggest gift giving challenge is trying to find things for my teenage nephews. It was much easier when they were little. Now, it’s all video games and electronics which I know nothing about.

  91. Steph G

    My biggest challenge is trying to give personal gifts. I love your beautiful photographs, and always….your writing. Happy Holidays!

  92. Laurie Emerson

    My biggest gift giving challenge is my mother-in-law. She has always been like a second mom to me and I want to give her something which will let her know how much she means to me. She loves to cook but it seems like she has everything. I wish I could find something to help with her baking but still be meaningful.

  93. Lily

    My best friend! We have known each other forever so I have given her everything meaningful and I feel she has reached a point where she has everything she wants!

  94. Lissa Crane

    My biggest gift-giving challenge is my parents! They are older and really don’t need or want anything!

  95. Seyma Shabbir

    The biggest challenge is giving a gift for someone who has the items I thought of as a gift or that the price of the gift is very expensive.

  96. angie w

    My biggest challenge is buying for people who have everything or don’t really have a lot of hobbies, so it’s hard to know what to buy for them

  97. Debbie Erickson

    My biggest gift giving challenge is my husband – he refuses to list anything he wants and if he does mention something he usually buys it himself! We struggle every year trying to find something that will give him that Christmas rush when he opens it! He is the biggest lover of Christmas I know and delights in getting special gifts for family members that I am unaware of.

  98. Tina

    My biggest challenge is my husband. I tend to get him things I think he needs but when the deals start in November, he will go out and buy himself the same thing I already bought him.

  99. Jessica H.

    My biggest gift giving challenge is being able to even purchase gifts. Unfortunately every year is tight, this year especially, and being able to come up with funds to purchase gifts is just hard (and tbh, depressing). Thank you for this wonderful giveaway!

  100. amy guillaume linderman

    my biggest challenge is in laws and my parents…they both say they don’t need or want a thing, but i hate to feel emptyhanded. subscribed to the blog.

  101. vickie

    The men in the family are always so hard for me to buy for. I try really hard to listen to what they may want but I always come up short.

  102. angie depue

    My biggest gift giving challenge is for my husband, he has everything he needs! Also my adult daughters! They are so hard to buy for. Thanks to you, I have great gift ideas for my daughters now. Like this gift basket, they would love!!

  103. courtney hennagir

    My biggest gift giving challenge is definitely my husband! Every year,I think I have finally found the perfect gift and halfway through December,he shows me “this cool new thing” he got and it is always the same thing I had found! So frustrating! I told him he has to stop buying himself stuff so close to Christmas,lol! Also,I have never made cheese danish myself because I figured it would be too difficult.Your recipe looks both easy and delish! I will be making that this week,so thank you!

  104. Audrey Stewart

    My hardest person to get a gift for is my Dad. I usually just give him gift cards. It feels so not like I thought enough, but he seems happy.

  105. Tina W

    My biggest gift-giving challenge is waiting for the holidays! When I see an item I know someone will love I want to give it to them RIGHT THEN.

  106. kelly woods

    My biggest challenge is buying for my dad. He has everything and is so picky but I love him so.

  107. Jeanne Coulombe

    Our biggest gift challenge is my in laws they have everything and they are the type it’s all about the all mighty dollar. Ugh I hate buying for them.

  108. Bea Alexandra

    My biggest gifting challenge is my sister. She is a minimalist and reuses many items to not waste. It is hard to find something practical for her.

  109. Deb Klein

    My biggest gifting challenge is for my oldest daughter as she has every thing that she needs and if she wants something she just goes put and buys it!

  110. cara simon

    My biggest gift giving challenge is for my mother-in-law who is 96. She doesn’t “need” anything, but she does enjoy it if you give her something you obviously put thought into.

  111. Lorena Keech

    We have reached the age that we have everything we need, as have our friends. So we exchange homemade goodies, easy. But trying to find something small but meaningful for my husband is tough.

  112. Kat Emerick

    My biggest gifting challenge is buying for my grandkids . They are all tweens. No more toys but now harder to buy for.

  113. meme

    my biggest challenge is my 14 year old who has no idea what he wants and doesn’t like any suggestions he has gotten so far.

  114. Kristen Patton

    My biggest gift giving challenge is finding new unique and creative things to make for my husband every year. He buys everything he wants so it is tradition that I make him something creative 🙂

  115. Laurie Nykaza

    My biggest gift giving challenge is my son who has celiacs so everything i give him to eat has to be GF.

  116. Stephanie

    My biggest gift giving challenge is making sure that the item I am buying is something that the recipient will actually use and enjoy.

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