I swear, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas goes by in the blink of an eye. With so much many people to see, so many halls to deck, so many little gifts to re-gift, so many cookies to bake, … listen, we really have to concentrate. It’s really one of my favorite times of year. It feels reflective and celebratory and there’s food… everywhere.
How many baked goods, how many cranberry things, how many glasses of champagne can we get in between now and our New Years (or for us down here in New Orleans, Ash Wednesday) Resolutions? The answer? Plenty.
Enter: Quick Cranberry Cream Cheese Breakfast Rolls. These rolls are somewhere between cinnamon rolls and cheese danishes. Made more festive with a quick cooking fresh cranberry sauce that adds the perfect tart bite to these sweet little rolls. Some baked goods just make all your dreams come true and that’s an exaggeration but these come close. Christmas morning breakfast!? Yes yes yes indeed!
• a surprisingly quick yeasted dough using Fleischmann’s RapidRise instant yeast.
• a quick stovetop cranberry sauce made with orange juice.
• a decadent but super simple sweetened cream cheese spread for inside the rolls.
• a quick crumble topping and an ever quicker glaze.
What I’m trying to tell you is even though this recipe has a lot of components, it actually comes together pretty quickly! And I promise, what you pull from the oven is… beyond!
We’ll start by mixing 1 1/2 cups of flour with our Fleischmann’s RapidRise instant yeast.
We’ll add sugar and salt and give the dry ingredients a toss in the bowl.
We’ll add more flour later – this is just the start.
Pour warmed water and milk over the yeasty dry ingredients.
And break up a few tablespoons of room temperature butter into the mixture.
The dough will get needed for several minutes and the butter bits will work their way in.
Stir until just shaggy.
The dough won’t come together just yet, big streaks of flour will remain.
Whisk the two eggs in a small bowl.
We’ll add most of the remaining flour and stir in the eggs.
Stir (I used a stiff spatula) until the dough begins to come together is a moist but not sticky dough.
You’ll also start to feel the yeast activate and bring bounce to the dough.
Once the dough becomes difficult to stir with a spoon because it’s mostly a cohesive mass, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter.
The dough will still be a little dough around the edges.
Not to worry – it’s nothing that 5 to 6 minutes of hand kneading can’t fix!
Knead the dough to mostly smooth and place in a greased bowl, covered.
A warm place is nice for these rolls – neat but not too near the preheating oven or stovetop.
This is a quick rise so 10 to 20 minutes – just enough time to make a quick cranberry sauce and cream cheese spread.
While the dough rests, we cranberry.
Simmer fresh cranberries with granulated sugar, the juice from one orange, and a few tablespoons of water.
Cook until most of the cranberries burst and the juices begin to thicken – 8 minutes should do the trick!
Place the sauce in a small bowl so it will cool faster. (A few minutes in the fridge works, too!)
To make the cream cheese spread we’ll combine very well-softened cream cheese with sugar, flour, and egg. A dash of vanilla is nice, too.
I used a little hand mixer here because it’s really the best way to get to a smooth cream cheese spread.
Whip together until smooth and spreadable.
With our fillings assembled and ready, we’re back to our little dough baby.
Bring the lightly-risen dough out onto a lightly floured counter.
Roll the dough to a 1/2-inch thick rectangle.
Mine was about 12×14-inches and slightly misshapen. That’s just my style.
Spread with a thin layer of cream cheese spread followed by a thin layer of cranberry spread.
I know what you’re thinking: yeesh! Now I have to get this whole thing into rolls and into the pan.
Yep. You can totally do this.
Tightly but gently roll the dough, from the longest end, into a cylinder.
The roll will feel loose, that’s just the truth of it.
Slice into 9 equal pieces.
Arrange in a 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan. Move those rolls from the counter to the pan with quickness and intention. It’ll all work out!
Allow the rolls to rise and cozy up next to one another for 30 minutes while you pre-heat the oven and make a quick butter crumble for the top – as if things couldn’t get better, ya know?
Bake until each roll is golden and absolutely irresistible – somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes.
Allow the rolls to cool to juuuuust warm before glazing and enjoying.
These rolls, as with most anything baked, are best enjoyed the same day they come out of the oven. The dough is pillowy soft and holds the most delectably sweet and tart cream cheese and fresh cranberry marriage. It’s like the best cheese danish, tied up in a coil with a holiday twist.
You’ll enjoy them (two in one sitting) with extra hot coffee just like I did, I’m sure. Happy Holidays from me to you!
Recipe in partnership with Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast™.
Photos with Jon Melendez.Print
For the Dough:
- 3–1/4 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granuloated sugar
- 1 (2-1/4 tsp.) envelope Fleischmann’s® RapidRise Yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small 1-inch chunks
- 2 large eggs
For the Cranberry Filling:
- 1 1/3 cup (about half a 12 ounce bag) fresh cranberries
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- juice of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons water
For the Cream Cheese Filling:
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
For the Crumble Topping:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly chilled and firm
For the Drizzle (optional):
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- splash of heavy cream just enough to make a thick but spreadable glaze
- First make the roll dough. Combine 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast and salt in large bowl. Heat water and milk until very warm and steaming (about120° to 130°F). Add to flour mixture along with the chunks of butter. Give the mixture three to five stirs with a spatula. It won’t be cohesive just yet.
- In a small bowl whisk together the eggs and add to the dough. Stir until a sticky dough emerges. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough.
- Place on a lightly floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Cover; let rest 10-20 minutes, as long as it takes you to make the cranberry and cheese filling below.
- While the dough rests, make the cranberry sauce. In a small saucepan combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice and water. Heat over medium-low until the mixture simmers and the cranberries begin to burst. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly (it will also thicken as it cools), about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and place in a small bowl in the refrigerator to chill promptly.
- To make the cheese filling, in a medium bowl, using an electric hand beater, whip together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth and no lumps remain. Beat in the egg followed by the flour. Set aside
- After the dough has rested its 10-20 minutes, place the dough on a lightly floured counter and roll into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle (mine was about 12×14-inches). Spread with cream cheese mixture and spread the cooled cranberry on top of the cheese layer.
- Starting at the long end of the dough, tightly but gently roll the dough into a cylinder, ending seam side down. The roll will fill loose – that’s because it’s filled with all that cream cheese and cranberry.
- Evenly slice the dough into 9 pieces. Place in a lightly greased 8×8 or 9×9-inch pan. Lightly cover with a dish towel while you make the crumble topping and glaze (if you’re going for the glaze) and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Allow the rolls to rest 30 minutes total.
- To make the crumble, in a small bowl toss together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the chilled butter and use your fingers to break the butter down into the mixture, creating a sandy consistency. Sprinkle the crumble generously over the cut rolls. After it’s 30 minute rise, place in the oven to bake until golden, bubbling and risen – 18-24 minutes. Your rolls may need a few minutes longer, just keep an eye on them. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to a just warm room temperature.
- If glazing the rolls, snip a tiny corner off a ziplock bag and spoon the mixture into the bag. Drizzle glaze atop the rolls. Serve with coffee and enjoy!
- Rolls will last, lightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to two days. Bring to room temperature or lightly toast in a toaster oven before reserving.