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How to make a seriously impressive cream cheese braided Danish

Hi, I'm Gina. I like food. A lot. That's what you'll find on Running to the Kitchen with the occasional smattering of fitness, sarcasm & weimaraners. 

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.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

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.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

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.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

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.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

Using a spatula, spread the cream cheese mixture down the middle.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

Spoon the apple-cranberry mixture on top of the cream cheese.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

Starting at one end, gently fold the strips over the filling, alternating from each side as you go down.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

Once all the sides are folded up, bake for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees F until golden brown.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

Remove from the oven, and let cool for about 25 minutes to let the cream cheese set and the top cool down before icing.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

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.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

Slice it up, and serve.

A simple step-by-step guide to making an apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish at home
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

Apple-cranberry cream cheese braided Danish recipe

Serves 8-10

Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Inactive time: 25 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:

For the dough

  • 1 (8 ounce) can refrigerated crescent roll dough

For the cream cheese filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the apple-cranberry filling

  • 1 medium apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the icing

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • Heavy cream or milk to thin

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese filling ingredients, and using a handheld mixer, mix until well combined and smooth. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut away any excess around the edges to make straight sides to the rectangle of dough.
  6. 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.
  7. Spread the cream cheese mixture down the middle of the dough.
  8. Spoon the apple-cranberry filling on top of the cream cheese.
  9. Starting at 1 end, gently fold the strips over the filling, alternating from each side all the way down to the other end.
  10. Place the Danish in the oven, and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  11. Remove from the oven, and let cool for at least 25 minutes.
  12. 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.
  13. Drizzle the icing all over the Danish. Cut and serve.

More pastry recipes

Homemade pumpkin toaster pastries
Chocolaty Nutella and pistachio pastries
Guava and cream cheese pastries

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