This should probably come as no surprise, but my favorite thing about new places is the new food that I’ve never had before. Hawaii has had a wealth of these in the years since B2 first brought me to visit, and on our last trip back earlier this summer — just when I thought I was getting the lay of the land — B2’s mom (as part of her nonstop feeding extravaganza for B3) produced a couple of cheerful little yellow-striped melons that were wholly adorable and wholly foreign to me. As it turns out, they were Korean melons, or chamoe, and I was instantly in love — they’re floral and sweet like honeydew, with a heady, syrupy smell when you cut them open, but the white flesh is firm and crunchy, almost like a (sweet, and not at all spicy) radish. And they’re pretty much perfect straight from the fridge on a warm summer day.
Back in LA, I was ecstatic to find piles and piles of them at the magical Korean supermarkets here (of which there are many, instead of just one H-mart, as I keep tending to call all of them) and we’ve had a heap of them in our produce drawer ever since. In crunching through the surplus I brought home, B2 had the brilliant idea to bake something with them — which I admit I thought was crazy, until I realized (a) melon jam is actually a thing that is possible (did you know?!) and (b) one of my favorite pastries of all is honeydew-flavored.
So bake we did! These little puff pastries are like a cheese danish and a jam pastry rolled together, inspired by Porto’s guava and cheese pastries, another new thing I’d never had until this summer. When combined with a little sugar and a little heat, chamoe softens surprisingly quickly into a sweet and fragrant jam, a concentrated, ambrosial version of itself that tastes even closer to how it smells when first cut open. A dollop of that and a simple cream cheese filling, tucked inside puff pastry — homemade or storebought, no shame — made for a gently sweet, gently creamy, indulgently perfect weekend breakfast, the inaugural baked treat in our new kitchen and one of the first little brunches to fill our breakfast nook.
Happy Wednesday, friends!
Melon jam & cream cheese pastries (with chamoe!)
Feel free to use honeydew or cantaloupe here in place of chamoe, if you can’t find it. Yields about a dozen pastries.
- 1 Korean melon (chamoe), rind removed, deseeded (see Notes), and chopped (or roughly 1 1/2 cups of your favorite melon, chopped)
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided (or more, to taste)
- 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp lemon juice, divided (optional)
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 lb puff pastry, storebought or homemade
- The day before or ahead: Simmer melon with 6 tablespoons of the sugar for 8-10 minutes, or until melon is soft and translucent and bubbles are thick and viscous. Stir in 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp lemon juice, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- The day of: Thaw the puff pastry if using frozen storebought pastry, or prepare a batch if making from scratch. Whisk the cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of sugar, half the egg (about 2 tablespoons, though I wouldn’t stress too much about getting it exactly even), 1/4 tsp lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (if desired) until smooth. Whisk the remaining half an egg in a small bowl with a splash of water or milk, to make the egg wash.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Working with half the pastry at a time, roll out the puff pastry and cut into roughly 2×4″ rectangles (or whatever shape you desire). On half of the rectangles, place a teaspoon or two of the chamoe jam and a teaspoon or two of the cheese filling. Dab the borders with egg wash. On the other half (the “lids”), score the centers of the rectangles with a sharp knife, then place over the rectangles with filling and seal the edges with the tines of a fork. You may want to stretch the lids slightly to ensure that they fit over the filling. Brush the lids with egg wash and sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until pastries are golden and puffed. Enjoy warm!
Some melon jam recipes call for macerating the melon in sugar the night before. I tried both macerating and cooking straightaway and didn’t notice a huge difference, so went for the quicker version, but you should feel free to experiment!
You can also stir in a tablespoon of liquid pectin or about half a packet of powdered gelatin (dissolved in a bit of water) near the end of cooking if you’d like a set jam.
Finally, a note about the fleshy middles of the melon — B2’s mom tells me you can actually eat it, seeds and all, so I sometimes do out of laziness (and it’s the sweetest part, too!) If you want to leave a bit of it for the jam, I think it’s tasty, but it’s up to you if you want a smooth and seedless end product.
If you have jam left over, you can thin it with a bit of water and use it as a glaze over the pastries when they first come out of the oven. And if you have any cheese filling, you can bake it in a small ramekin for 20 minutes or so at 325 degrees, and make a mini-cheesecake!