Cinnamon Cream Cheese Open Danish

Cinnamon Open Danish -- A Pinch of Joy
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Open Danish -- A Pinch of Joy

Officially these cinnamon cream cheese treats are called Cinnamon Cream Cheese Open Danish.  Cinnamon Flats is the name Wheels gave them and how they are known around our house.  Leaving off the top layer usually given a Danish and spreading the dough in a larger jelly roll pan instead of a 9×13 reduces the carb count without reducing the deliciousness.  You could serve these for breakfast.   You could probably also eat them at lunch – I’m pretty sure you can.  Maybe even serve them for a  brunch or a tea party.   We use them for dessert at dinner.  Cinnamon and cream cheese baked on a crescent roll base – good any time. 

I use Pillsbury Crescents.  And I prefer the sheets, if they are available.  If not, just be sure to pat the perforations closed.  (This is a great job for little hands.)  Mixing the cream cheese until it is light and somewhat fluffy allows you to spread it more easily on the dough.  You can substitute Neufachetal Cheese (which is lower in fat) but I use Philadephia Cream Cheese.  Let cool about ten minutes before cutting.  These are really good when served hot, but they are also good the second day.  Warm about 30 seconds in the microwave before devouring.  Actually, I like them better the second day as the cream cheese is a little more firm and the flavors have developed more deeply.   Bytes likes to spread a bit of strawberry or grape jelly on them.

This is a quick and easy recipe which will serve more than one meal (or feed hearty eaters).  We are getting ready to take the kitchen out of commission for a while (I’m so excited!)  so you’re likely to see quick n easy and slow cooker recipes for the next weeks. 

Consider yourself warned :-)

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Open Danish
Cook time
Total time
Creamy cinnamony -- so good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea time, brunch time, anytime!
Serves: 20 servings
  • 2 packages crescent rolls
  • 2 packages cream cheese
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Turn on oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Unroll the two packages of crescent roll dough and pat out across an ungreased 11x15 jellyroll pan.
  3. Place the cream cheese, vanilla and ¾ cup sugar in medium mixing bowl. Beat until fluffy.
  4. Spread cream cheese mixture across the crescent roll dough.
  5. Mix together the ½ cup sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle evenly over the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Melt butter in the microwave and spoon or pour over the cinnamon sugar layer.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 3\\\" x 3\\\"

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Buttercream Cake Icing and writing Joy

Cake with Tiffany Blue buttercream icing, flowers and word Joy

Cake with Tiffany Blue frosting, flowers and word Joy

Sunday was my final exam in the cake decorating class I’ve been taking.  We were to bake two layers, stack and frost them before class.  We could make flowers ahead of time and let them dry.  In class we had to write a word and do the border, then complete the cake.  I knew right away I wanted Tiffany blue as the base with white decorations. We hadn’t had instructions on how to make the flowers I wanted to use, but I read the book and watched a couple of videos.  And created them anyway!

The meringue powder in the recipe helps the frosting form a firm crust that allows decorations to hold their shape.  Still the larger flowers, the teacher said, would need about three days to dry enough to completely hold their shape while being set on the cake and transported.    Meringue powder also allows the cake icing to crust just enough, creating a firmer base on which to build the decorations.  I wanted to allow enough time for that to happen before class.

I baked the cake Saturday.  After it cooled, I leveled the layers by cutting off the rounded tops.  A layer of frosting on the bottom one and I set the top one in place upside down.  This let the 90 degree edge created by the cake pan form the top edge of the cake.  Then I frosted with a “crumb coat” of icing – just enough to keep crumbs from breaking loose and ruining the look of the icing.  (And, lesson learned, I didn’t bake a chocolate cake this time!) After several hours, I went back and gave the cake a thin coat of the Tiffany blue, partly to create a smooth base for the last layer and partly to “practice” the icing techniques. (I made an entire recipe of  Tiffany blue to do the cake as teacher warned it is impossible to match the new batch to the old, should you run out!)  Sunday morning, I put on the last layer of icing.  I remember it turned out gorgeous, smooth with a sharp edge at the top.  And then I reached up for something and bumped the cake,  lifting off a four inch strip of frosting – and cake!- all along one edge.

There went perfection – as I choose to remember anyway!  Nothing to do but try to patch it back together.  Remember that waxed paper trick I talked about here?  It works quite nicely.  Amazingly well, in fact considering the gash that needed repair.  :-)

In class, we first had a lesson in  ribbon roses and writing. Writing was by far the hardest thing ever!  Teacher had me thin my icing – twice – which really helped.  But my lines still curlicued, broke, twisted and refused to go where my brain shouted directions!  And I was only doing a three letter word!  After picking letters off several times with a toothpick (yes, you can do that!), the last two finally came out okay.  The “J”  I finally let dry for a few minutes and then I shoved it into its real shape with a toothpick.

I have profound respect for Niece who was a cake decorator in a store bakery!!!!  And for sisters in law ElA and JanE who have actually made wedding and other celebration cakes (plural) for other people!  Excuse me.  I have some  a lot  of practice to do!!!

Wilton Buttercream Cake Icing
  • 1 cup solid white vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon flavoring (vanilla, almond or butter)
  • 7-8 teaspoons milk or water
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Wilton Meringue powder
For chocolate, add
  • ¾ cup cocoa OR 3 1 oz unsweetened chocolate squares, melted
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons water or milk
  1. Cream shortening, flavoring and water/milk until well mixed.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar and meringue powder and mix at low speed until well mixed.
  3. Blend for an additional minute until creamy.
  4. Makes 2 ½ cups stiff consistency frosting. (See Notes below.)
  5. Keeps a week in the refrigerator and freezes well.
  1. _Stiff consistency is used for decorations that will be upright, like roses.
  2. Medium consistency is used for stars, borders, and flat petalled flowers. Add 1 tsp of water or milk per cup of stiff icing.
  3. Thin consistency is used for icing, writing and making leaves. Add 2 tsp water or milk per cup of stiff icing. For writing, Wilton recommends that you also add ½ teaspoon of piping gel per cup of thin icing, to help the icing “stretch” and not break as you write.
  4. Frosted cakes will stay fresh in freezer up to six months. Defrost a frozen cake unwrapped to prevent condensation forming on the frosting and ruining it.
  5. This recipe and directions are from Wilton Cake Decorating instruction manuals. For more information, visit their website. _

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Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Bars

Peanut Butter Bars

Peanut Butter Double Chocolate bars - A Pinch of Joy

Christmas at Wheel’s family farm included candy.  Lots of candy.  After dinner, Grandma would bring out the candy and start filling the dining room table. The sisters would dive into bags, boxes and carriers for their contributions.  The table would start to groan and candy would overflow onto other surfaces.   The “it takes a special touch” kind of candies – divinity, penuche, peanut brittle.  The smooth chocolate candies. Peanut butter fudge.  Cherries.  Nuts. Coconut.  Dipped candies.  The cereal, marshmallow and kid friendly candies.   But I zeroed in on the Peanut Butter Chocolate confection Grandma made.   The peanut butter cup knockoff.  Tastes just like the cups in the bright orange wrapper! Sweet peanut butter wrapped in chocolate — bliss! 
This is a very simple recipe – four ingredients counting the secret and unexpected one.  It’s faster to make with a food processor and the microwave, but easily done by hand.  I cut the recipe in half to make 32 pieces in an 8×8 pan instead of the 48 pieces Grandma made in a 9x 13.  (If you’d like the bigger recipe without doing all the math, you can find it on A Pinch of Joy Facebook page under “exclusive downloads”.  You can “Like” if you are not already a follower.)   
Line the 8×8 pan – not to keep the candy from sticking as in the Best and Easiest Gift Fudge – but to make “handles” so you can lift the candy out of the pan for slicing without losing a single piece.  The bottom layer of chocolate is optional.  I omit it  unless I am making this for a gift or a party.   The candy is pretty rich so slice it into one inch by 2 inch bars – or even 1 inch squares fancied up in paper candy cups.  I’ve always thought this would be pretty at Christmas time with a little drizzle of red or green, but it never lasts long enough to try that!    Oh – the secret ingredient?   Graham cracker crumbs give it body and texture.  

You can buy this candy in the store with a bright orange wrapper — aka Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!


This recipe was featured on Kristen’s Creations, The Craft Barn,  Chic and CraftyThrowback Thursday


Grandma’s Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Bars – no bake
Just like the candy in the bright orange wrapper! Chocolate and a fabulous peanut butter mixture that tastes just like Reese Peanut Butter Cups. Quick and easy to make.
Serves: 32 pieces
  • ⅔ cup graham cracker crumbs (6 sheets of graham crackers)
  • ⅓ cup butter melted
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • 1¾ cups powdered sugar
Chocolate top and bottom:
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips – ¾ cup for each layer, preferably Nestle's or Hershey's
  1. Line 8x8 pan with waxed paper
  2. Make chocolate bottom -- optional. Melt ¾ cup chocolate chips in microwave 40 seconds on high and then in 20 second intervals until chips become soft and begin to lose shape. Stir smooth. Spread in waxed paper lined 8 x 8 pan and place in refrigerator to harden. You can do this step ahead of time, even a day or more in advance.
  3. Make graham cracker crumbs, if using whole crackers, by pulsing in food processor until fine OR using rolling pin to crush.
  4. Melt butter 30 seconds in microwave, 10 second bursts until loses shape and add to graham cracker crumbs, Pulse in with two 10 second bursts. OR stir in well.
  5. Add peanut butter and pulse once for 10 seconds OR mix in well.
  6. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and pulse OR stir until well mixed. Add ¾ cup powdered sugar and mix well again. Mixture will form a soft but defined. slightly dry looking ball.
  7. Add peanut butter mixture to 8x8 pan and press down into even layer.
  8. Make chocolate topping. Melt ¾ cup chocolate chips and in microwave 40 seconds on high and then in 20 second intervals until chips become soft and lose their shape. Spread over peanut butter bars.
  9. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until firm. Let set at room temperature for a few moments before cutting so chocolate will slice without breaking. Cut into 1 x 2 inch bars to place on plate or 1 inch squares, if using paper candy cups.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 inch by 2 inch piece

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