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The danish is renowned throughout the western world as the Dutch pastry bearing many kinds of fillings. From sweet cream cheese and fruit filling to chocolate pudding and streusel, an integral ingredient just underneath, within the twists and turns of the pastry dough is a concoction called remonce. This sugar and butter mixture, sometimes hit with a little cinnamon or vanilla extract, makes the danish moister and sweeter.
According to culinary author Ana Maria Kruger, remonce can be made in a few ways. The first method is with one part unsalted butter and two parts sugar, adding just a little vanilla extract. Another method uses brown sugar instead of white, and cinnamon instead of vanilla. In the latter recipe, 2.75 parts brown sugar is needed instead of two parts white sugar, since it lacks some of the granulated sugar's sweetness. These ingredients are whisked together until fully combined, and then refrigerated until its time to apply to the dough.
After the dough has been rolled out and cut into squares or strips, the remonce is applied before the final pastry is constructed. The possibilities are many for both the squares or strips. About 5 inches (about 13 cm) cut squares can make pinwheels, turnovers or pockets. Cut about 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) thick, the strips can be twisted up to make what are called snails.
To use the squares effectively, a little egg yolk is brushed at the corners so they will attach firmly to the opposite corners during baking. For the pinwheel, remonce is brushed on the squares and some more cinnamon and sugar is sprinkled on top. An "X" is cut through each square, crossing in the center. This results in eight corners of four triangles along the square's perimeter. The chef folds in and sticks every other one of these corners to the center of the square, leaving every other corner sticking out. The shapes should be baked at 350°F (about 177°C) for about 20 minutes.
The design of a pinwheel is perhaps the most complicated. A pocket can be made by simply folding each of the square's four corners to the center, over the mount of topping. A turnover is made by joining opposing corners and the remaining open edge with a fork.
All that is left after the dough and remonce is in place is the filling. Many venerable danish toppings are available. Sweet cream cheese or just more remonce are a few simple options. Apricot jelly, peach cobbler, macerated cherries or just a glaze of sugar made with some milk all are popular danish selections in bakeries throughout the world.
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