Recipe Makeover: A Dandier Danish

A gooey cream cheese pastry with less fat, half the sugar, and a touch of whole-grain goodness

Cream Cheese Danish Braid
Photo: Photo: Randy Mayor

Nibbling away on a buttery, creamy, cheese—filled Danish is one of those delightful occasional splurges. The best are found in good pastry shops rather than supermarket cellophane, and many slices come in north of 400 calories due to the over-load of butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Our goal was to enjoy Danish pleasure more often with a lighter treat that is still creamy, buttery, and good. If you're willing to invest a little time in the kitchen, you can comfortably do just that. Our pastry is fun to make and a great offering for hungry houseguests.

We start with a whole-grain-speckled yeast dough, sweetened with a touch of sugar and made tender with a little butter and light sour cream. It's more of a sweet bread than a pastry, really, which helps us cut out more than 2½ sticks of butter. Then comes the fun part: Roll out the dough, slather it with some lemon- and honey-infused low-fat ricotta and cream cheese, and weave it all together into a beautiful braid. We cut the glaze back to just a drizzle instead of a dousing, and add a sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds for a crunchy finish. This homemade 224-calorie breakfast treat will satisfy every bit of your café pastry cravings.


  • 415 calories per serving
  • 24 grams total fat
  • 14.3 grams saturated fat


  • 224 calories per serving
  • 7.9 grams total fat
  • 4.1 grams saturated fat

View Recipe: Cream Cheese Danish Braid


  • Trim Sugar and Fat Like a Pro

    • Honey
      Lends a creamy, floral flavor to the filling. Its sweeter, denser consistency allows us to use less—saving 20 calories per serving over granulated sugar.
    • Sour Cream and Less Butter
      We remove 2½ sticks of butter to save 10g sat fat per slice. Light sour cream adds fluffy goodness, and some butter keeps the dough tender.
    • Powdered Sugar Glaze
      Too much glaze can overpower with sweetness. Instead, we drizzle lightly and save 23 calories per slice by using nearly 1 cup less powdered sugar.

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