How was everyone’s Christmas? Was it filled with nog-based beverages and viewings of Love Actually? Or perhaps some caroling and hover boarding?
A month or so ago I saw some really clever pictures of people transforming tree skirts into actual skirts. I guess it’s the new ugly Christmas sweater. So I spent the whole day wearing one. It was definitely a look to remember!
But now on to the new year. And what better way to ring it in than with a cream cheese pastry perfect to have with a cup of tea or coffee while watching the snow fall outside…or even to snack on for breakfast. I’m not judging. It sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
In the part of Minnesota I live in you often find foods around Christmas that reflect where early immigrants came from. You’ll often hear of groups of people and families getting together to make lefse. And in the stores you’ll always find pickled herring. But the one that always catches my eye is the kuchen.
Kuchen is a traditional German dessert, and since that’s where my ancestors hail from, I was eager to try it when I baked it up for the first time. Maybe I’m silly, but it’s kind of cool to think that you’re making a food that your great-great grandparents mighty have made and eaten. Now this kuchen is basically a cross between a cream cheese Apple Danish and a shortbread bar. So if either of those sound good to you, you’re golden. 🎉.
Let me tell you, this is the perfect apple dessert for when you’re craving pie or crisp, but don’t really want to go through the hassle. It might look like it has a few steps, but that’s basically just a bit of mixing. And the crust comes together like a dream. All hail easy crust that doesn’t make us want to scream! Woohoo!
- For Crust:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
- For Filling:
- 1 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- For topping:
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 Granny Smith apples (or apple of your choice) peeled and thinly sliced.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- To make the crust: Add flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and butter a little at a time, working the butter in with a dough blender or two forks. When ready the mixture should resemble cornmeal.
- Press the dough into the pan and bake until slightly golden, about 12-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
- For the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until creamy.
- Add the egg and mix until combined.
- Pour over the crust.
- In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
- Place the apples on top of the cream cheese filling in rows, or any pattern you desire.
- Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
- Bake until brown, about 20 minutes.