Cinnamon-Sugar Crust Cream Cheese and Jelly Danish Squares

I have fond memories of going to the local bakery as a child and eating danishes. I would eat one jelly danish before we even left the bakery and then I would polish off a cream cheese danish on the car ride home.

When you’re a kid and play sports seven days a week you can polish off danishes like it’s your job. I wish I could get that job again.

And in high school and college, I could do some major damage on Entenmann’s danishes and crumb cakes.  With danishes, I love the filling that’s encased within layers of dough and the density and heaviness.

I don’t go for light and airy desserts. I go for thick, dense, heavy slabs. The kind of heavy tonnage that makes you wonder how on earth an 8-by-8-inch baking pan weighs 14 pounds as you’re hoisting it into the oven.

Butter, sugar, cream cheese, jelly, and dough will do that.

But it’s the crust that really sold me on this one and normally I avoid crust. It’s usually boring and dry.

Since I just made mango and streuesel-topped muffins and cinnamon bun crumble-topped pie, I wanted to mix it up with this one and make a solid layer of crust that’s as flavorful as a crumble topping, while avoiding any blandness or dryness.

The resulting crust is a solid wall of butter, sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The best kind of wall, and it’ definitely not boring, bland, or dry.

In each bite there’s a little cream cheese and a little jelly, and there’s softness and squishy tenderness.

And then there’s the robustly flavored cinnamon and sugar crust, which is a little bit crunchy and the perfect contrast to the soft filling.

The best part of these is that they’re easy and use a shortcut.

It’s called a can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be playing with my daughter, outside enjoying the fresh air, organizing my sock drawer, or doing just about anything other than making and rolling out pastry dough.

I’m all about baking and I like a good project and challenge, and I have the utmost respect for Christina Tosi who appears to enjoy making things as complicated as multi-staged as possibly, but I just don’t have the time and energy. Hello, shortcut.

I’m all about the shortest distance between two points.

Those points would be me and a bite of this.

Cinnamon-Sugar Crust Cream Cheese and Jelly Danish Squares

A jelly danish sandwiched between flaky layers of cinnamon-sugar crust that will make even crust haters want more crust! So good and so easy! Make it for your next brunch or event and everyone will be so impressed with how it tastes like a bakery-quality pastry, and you don’t have to tell them how fast and simple it is to make.


1 can refrigerated crescent rolls, 8-count (I used Pillsbury Original)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used Trader Joe’s Whipped Light)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup jelly or jam (I used a raspberry preserves and strawberry jelly combination)

1/4 cup unsatled butter, melted (half of one stick)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350F, line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.

Open the can of crescent rolls and carefully unfold and unwrap them onto counter top or flat work surface. Take half the dough (4 triangles) and line bottom of prepared pan like a big blanket. Use your fingers to massage dough into corners and squeeze together large seams or gaps. It doesn’t have to be perfect but seal gaps as best you can.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, vanilla, and stir vigorously until combined. Pour mixture over the crescent rolls. Add jelly over the top of the cream cheese layer by drizzling it or picking up large chunks with your fingers and dropping over the cream cheese. Try to create a zig-zag pattern or disperse the jelly evenly over the pan. Top with the remaining crescent roll dough (4 triangles). Use your fingers to massage dough into corners and squeeze together large seams or gaps. It doesn’t have to be perfect but seal gaps as best you can.

In a small microwave-safe bowl (the same bowl the cream cheese was in is fine), add the butter and melt it, about 60 to 90 seconds on high power. Pour the melted butter over the dough.

In a small bowl (same one is fine), combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and stir. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over the top of the buttered dough. Bake for 37 to 41 minutes, or until dough has puffed, browned, butter is boiling, and edges show signs of barely browning. There will likely be a pool of butter in places; this is fine, normal, and it will soak in as danish cools. Do not allow the pooled butter to fool you into thinking these aren’t done enough. Allow danish to cool on the counter for 1 hour. Then place pan in the refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving (I chill them overnight). If you do not refrigerate them before slicing, you will have a mess and will not get clean cuts. Store extra danish in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If desired, heat for a few seconds in the microwave before serving but I like to serve these chilled or let them come to room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

Only Eats

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