A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Cream cheese danishes are one of those bakery items I find impossible to pass up, especially when they're fruit filled (cherry is my all-time favorite). While they may seem complicated, making your own at home is actually really easy with the help of store-bought dough. Use this standard cream cheese base, and change up the fruit filling to your liking or season.
Begin by making the fillings. Combine the apples, cranberries, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a saucepot, and simmer until softened.
Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and flour with a handheld mixer until smooth. Set both fillings aside, and prep the dough as follows.
Unroll the crescent dough from the can, and pinch together any perforated lines for individual rolls with your fingertips so the dough stays intact in a rectangular shape. Roll out the dough on a parchment paper-lined, rimless baking sheet with a rolling pin, then cut away any excess along the edges to form a straight rectangle on all sides.
Using the same knife, cut strips along each long side of the rectangle, about one-third of the way into the center of the dough.
Using a spatula, spread the cream cheese mixture down the middle.
Spoon the apple-cranberry mixture on top of the cream cheese.
Starting at one end, gently fold the strips over the filling, alternating from each side as you go down.
Once all the sides are folded up, bake for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees F until golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and let cool for about 25 minutes to let the cream cheese set and the top cool down before icing.
Combine the powdered sugar and heavy cream in a small bowl, and mix until icing consistency. Drizzle the icing all over the top of the Danish.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese filling ingredients, and using a handheld mixer, mix until well combined and smooth. Set aside.
In a small saucepot over medium heat, combine the apple-cranberry filling ingredients. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, and cook until softened, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside.
On a parchment paper-lined, rimless baking sheet, roll out the crescent dough into a rectangular shape. Pinch together the perforated lines in the dough (usually precut to make individual rolls easy) so that the dough stays together in 1 piece.
Using a sharp knife, cut away any excess around the edges to make straight sides to the rectangle of dough.
Using the same knife, cut 1/2-inch-wide strips 1/3 of the way from the edge into the center of the dough, all along each long side of the dough.
Spread the cream cheese mixture down the middle of the dough.
Spoon the apple-cranberry filling on top of the cream cheese.
Starting at 1 end, gently fold the strips over the filling, alternating from each side all the way down to the other end.
Place the Danish in the oven, and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and let cool for at least 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the icing by placing the powdered sugar in a small bowl. Slowly add heavy cream or milk, stirring as you go, until you have a consistency liquid enough to drizzle on top of the Danish but not too thin.
Drizzle the icing all over the Danish. Cut and serve.