Brunch Recipe: Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Breakfast Bars

Recipes from The Kitchn

Southerners celebrate the good things in life with food, be it an extravagant game-day tailgate, a casual holiday party, or a formal Christmas Eve dinner. No detail goes unnoticed and no stone goes unturned.
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My parents' home was recently flooded with friends and family to celebrate an intense — but friendly — college football rivalry. Besides the big game, the weekend was filled with laughter and food, glorious food. Country ham biscuits, Bloody Marys, cheesy dips, smoked barbecue with all the fixin's, mom's famous chili, Texas Layer Cake, and so much more. It made me so proud to be Southern!

After all the fun and games were over (and my team won!), you would think Sunday morning would be an afterthought. Not under my mom's watchful eye. Even in her hostessing exhaustion, she arranged for a proper Sunday breakfast. She had a friend deliver a Sausage and Egg Breakfast Casserole as well as Cream Cheese Breakfast Bars. Alongside a big pot of coffee and a heaping bowl of fruit, there was more than enough to ease the other team's battle wounds (and hangovers).

I was immediately taken by the new-to-me cream cheese bars. They were like portable cheese danishes, but better. As we all hustled and bustled to finish packing and get out the door, I couldn't help myself from grazing past the sideboard to grab another... and another.

I knew I had to find the recipe, because these tasty bites would be perfect for a Christmas morning breakfast. I started with a base recipe found online, and then I created the divine cinnamon filling to add a bit of delicious flair -- super easy, a little trashy, but oh-so yummy. I'm not usually one for using canned doughs of any sort, but what's the harm every now in then? Especially when you have Christmas dinner to make!

Do you prepare a special breakfast for holiday mornings or is it cereal and milk? I'd love for you to share your best breakfast recipes and tips.

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Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Breakfast Bars

Makes 20 to 24 squares

For the Cinnamon Filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt

For the Cream Cheese Bars
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese or Neufchatel, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Additional sugar, for topping

For the Cinnamon Filling
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and cook until sugar and butter are well combined, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Whisk in egg, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

For the Cream Cheese Bars
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Roll out 1 can of crescent roll dough into the bottom of the casserole dish to form a crust, making sure to press seams together.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Spread the filling evenly over the crust with a rubber spatula. Pour the cinnamon filling over the cream cheese mixture and spread out evenly (I used a silicone pastry brush).

Roll out remaining can of crescent roll dough onto large sheet of wax paper. Pat out dough to form a 9 x 13 inch rectangle, carefully pressing the seams together to seal. Gently flip the wax paper/dough over the cinnamon cream cheese filling to form a top crust.

Bake for 30 minutes until top crust is golden. Remove from the oven and dust with additional sugar. Cut into 2-inch squares, or smaller if feeding a crowd. Serve warm or at room temperature. Recipe can be made the day before and cooked before serving OR freeze cooked bars and thaw before eating (if serving at room temperature).

Related: Good Question: A Make Ahead Sweet Breakfast Casserole?

(Images: Nealey Dozier)

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Breakfast, Christmas, Quick, Recipe

Nealey Dozier is a former wedding planner turned chef, culinary instructor, recipe developer, and food writer. She is based in Atlanta. You can find more of her Southern adventures in eating and entertaining at www.dixiecaviar.com.

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