I was really excited to be contacted a while back with an opportunity to create an original recipe using Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry. Just creating a recipe using their wonderful products sounded like lots of fun, but the best part of this challenge for me was that they requested I use an ingredient indigenous to Georgia! Now, I know that when anyone thinks of Georgia they immediately think of peaches. But peaches are just one of our many food crops. Did you know that Georgia ranks first in the nation in the production of broiler chickens, peanuts and pecans? We rank second in production of cotton and rye, and third in production of peaches and tomatoes. Just a little Georgia trivia for you on a Friday afternoon.
Actually, when I think of Georgia crops I always think of peanuts first and pecans second. That’s probably because I grew up in a region where those crops were especially important. And so, I chose Georgia pecans as the indigenous product for my recipe development.
This is really two recipes in one. A recipe for candied pecans and a second recipe for a cheese braid using those delicious candied pecans. I’d typically serve this braid warm for breakfast, but it’s also delicious for dessert with a nice cup of coffee. Hope you enjoy this one and some of the other original recipes developed by fellow food bloggers posted on the Puff Pastry web site.
Start by making the candied pecans. You can do this step several days in advance and store the pecans in a tightly covered container until you’re ready to use them.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat one egg white until stiff peaks form. Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla extract. Your mixture should look similar to the photo above. Pour in the pecans and stir to coat them well.
Spread the pecan mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pecans are browned and no longer shiny. Let them cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the candied pecans for the filling and save the rest for another use.
Now to make the cheese braids – begin by defrosting a package of Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry sheets. When the pastry sheets are ready to use, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Beat the cream cheese and sugar on low speed until the mixture is smooth. Add an egg and vanilla extract and beat until just combined. Set aside for now.
Unfold one of the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface. Roll the sheet into a 10-inch square. Place the pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread half the cream cheese mixture down the center of the pastry square.
Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the candied pecans over the cream cheese.
Cut slits 1 inch apart from the two sides of the pastry to within 1/2 inch of the filling. Starting at one end, fold the pastry strips over the filling, alternating sides, to cover filling and form a braid. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet. Beat together the remaining egg and water in a small bowl. Brush pastries with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Let pastries cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Makes 16 servings.
Disclaimer: I received compensation from Pepperidge Farm for recipe development associated with this post. Any opinions expressed are completely my own.