This Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Flatbread Wreath is an easy appetizer that blends the best seasonal flavors into one delicious bite. It's a showstopper and I'm not afraid to admit it. Tart, fresh cranberries, green onion, jalapeño, lemon, sea salt flakes, and sugar are combined over a smooth bed of cream cheese, atop a wreath-shaped crescent roll flatbread in this perfect holiday (or any day) appetizer.
The pressure to show up to gatherings with a holiday friendly appetizer is very real. The cranberry based, salsa-ish topping is an incredibly unique blend of flavors that is so good, it's surprising. It's surprising because it does not look like something that would be as "wowing" as it is. I've encountered many people who say "cranberries aren't my thing," but there is something exceptional about this recipe. The combination of the cranberry mixture served over cream cheese is "I need this recipe" amazing on its own, but I love it as a flatbread. The wreath shape was easy to achieve and gave this appetizer extra holiday flair. I brought this cranberry jalapeño cream cheese flat bread wreath somewhere recently, and spent the next day responding to texts asking for the recipe. It's easy to make, but there are a couple of tricks to the success of this recipe.
Tip and Tricks for a Successful Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Flatbread Wreath
There is nothing complicated about this cranberry jalapeno cream cheese flatbread, but I'm offering a few tips I've learned the hard way.
- Use fresh cranberries. Anything but fresh cranberries totally changes the texture of the recipe.
- Chop the cranberries before doing anything else. Chopping the cranberries is the most tedious step of this recipe.
- Use a hand chopper if one is available. I don't have one but I promise myself every year I'm going to get one. A hand chopper is much easier than chopping small rolling cranberries with a large sharp knife.
- Don't use a food processor. Again, texture is a key component to this recipe. A food processor will cut the cranberries too small.
- Seed and remove the ribs of the jalapeño. The jalapeño adds a kick of flavor, but the heat is offset by the cream cheese. Unless you want more heat, stick to removing the seeds and ribs before chopping it.
- Refrigerate the cranberry mixture (cranberries, jalapeño, green onion, lemon, salt, and sugar) overnight if possible. It's important for this mixture to sit for at least 4 hours if overnight isn't an option.
- Use an oven-safe bowl flipped upside down to hold the shape the round wreath out of crescent roll dough..
- Grease the outer, top edges of the bowl before flipping upside down on the baking sheet.
- Drain the cranberry mixture before spooning it over the cream cheese.
- Soften the cream cheese or allow it to sit until room temperature before spreading it over the flatbread.
- Flatbread should be completely cool when spreading the cream cheese on it.
Prep the Cranberry Jalapeño Mixture
The cranberry jalapeño mix needs time for the flavors to come together and must be refrigerated for at least several hours. I've found the easiest thing to do is to prepare the mix the night before I need it. Do not be afraid of the typical boldness of cranberries here. Allowing the cranberries to marinate with the onions, lemon, and sugar tones down the tartness of the cranberries and exposes a sweet but tart flavor combination. The seeded, and de-ribbed jalapeños add a kick of flavor but not enough to make the dish spicy (unless more are added).
To prepare the cranberry jalapeno mixture, rinse and chop the cranberries. Cut the cranberries so they are at least quartered and finely slice the green onion. I cut the green onions just above the root and use mainly the green top so that the cranberry mixture isn't overwhelmed with the taste of onion but there is plenty of green. A little bit of the white of the onion is fine but packs a little more flavor.
After cranberries, green onions, and jalapenos are sliced and chopped, toss them in a bowl with freshly squeezed lemon juice, sea salt flakes, and sugar. Cover and refrigerate.
Make the Cream Cheese Spreadable
The next step is to ensure that the cream cheese is easily spreadable on the flatbread without melting it. I remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator usually an hour before I plan to use it for this recipe. This warms the cream cheese to room temperature and then the cream cheese does not need to be heated to soften it.
Assemble the Crescent Roll Dough Flatbread Wreath
Use a round baking sheet/pizza pan to assemble the wreath. Spray the pan with cooking/baking spray and place a round bowl in the center of the pan. Spray the outer edge of the bowl. Use an oven safe bowl that leaves a nice margin between the outer edge and the lip of the baking sheet for the wreath.
Open both cans of crescent roll dough and divide the cans of dough in half, and then divide them in half again. Fold each piece in half and place it around the outer edge of the bowl. Line the dough up edge to edge so it does not overlap and cause some sections to be thicker. Use your hand to press the dough down evenly around the bowl so the seams are smooth. Set aside the small amount of dough that remains to use it for a bow.
Use a fork to poke holes in the dough (optional) so that it doesn't puff too much as it bakes. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until a golden brown. As the wreath is baking, roll the remaining dough into one long, thin piece. Slice off one third of the long thin piece and set aside. Bring the ends of the remaining two thirds of the dough together to form a thin circle. Hold the opposite sides of the circle and twist the circle in opposite directions to form a figure 8. Use the remaining ⅓ of the dough as the "hanging ribbon" of the bow. Fold the ribbon of dough loosely (think an upside down V) and place the point of the center at the center of the figure 8. Smooth the seams and bake at 350°F until golden brown (check after 5-7 minutes).
Remove the wreath from the oven and allow it to cool completely before spreading on the cream cheese.
Finishing the Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Flatbread Wreath
When the crescent roll dough wreath has completely cooled, spread the softened cream cheese in an even layer over the top of the wreath. Do not use all of the cream cheese, the cream cheese layer should be thick enough so it is not transparent, but not too thick.
Stir the cranberry jalapeno mixture well, and then drain it over the sink. Spoon the mixture into an even layer in the center of the cream cheese layer. Spread it around a bit so that it is even around the wreath. Do not use the whole cranberry jalapeno mixture, set the remaining portion aside. Place the "bow" at the center of the lower half of the wreath.
In a separate, shallow plate or bowl, spread the remaining cream cheese in an even layer at the bottom of the dish. Spoon the rest of the cranberry jalapeno mixture over the cream cheese evenly. Place the dish in the center of the wreath with a cheese spreader. Serve the extra spread with Townhouse or Ritz crackers or just add it to a slice of flatbread!
Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Flatbread Wreath
- Rinse and chop cranberries. Cranberries should be at least quartered if not cut smaller. Do not use a food processor, but a hand chopper is fine.
- Slice the green portion of the green onions and add to the cranberries.
- Remove the seeds and ribbing from the jalapeno pepper and finely dice the pepper. Add to the cranberries and sliced green onion.
- Add lemon juice, sugar, and sea salt flakes to the cranberries, green onions, and jalapeno. Toss well and cover. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
- (Next Day or Hours Prior to Serving) Preheat oven to 350°F and remove cream cheese from the refrigerator.
- Spray a round baking sheet or pizza pan with cooking/baking spray. Place a round bowl in the center of the pan. Spray the outer edge of the bowl with cooking/baking spray as well.
- Open cans of crescent roll dough, unroll the dough, and pull it into halves.
- Fold each half in half again, and place the pieces around the outer edge of the bowl. Line the dough pieces up edge to edge so that they do not overlap. Smooth the seams with your fingers. Set aside the small amount of remaining dough.
- Bake the crescent roll dough wreath at 350°F for 20 minutes or until a golden brown color. As it bakes, assemble the dough "bow."
- Take the remaining portion of crescent roll dough and roll it into one long, thin piece. Cut off ⅓ and set it aside.
- Take the ends of the ⅔ length of the dough and bring them together to form a circle. Twist the opposite sides of the circle in opposite directions to form one, large figure 8.
- Fold the remaining ⅓ of the dough into an upside down V and place the point of the V at the center of the figure 8 to form the "ribbon" of the bow. Smooth the seams before baking.
- Bake the "bow" at 350°F for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.
- After removing the crescent roll dough wreath from the oven, set it aside and allow it to cool completely before removing the bowl from the center or spreading cream cheese.
- Once the wreath has cooled completely, spread the cream cheese in an even, but not overly thick layer over the top of the flatbread wreath. The cream cheese layer should be thick enough so it is not transparent. Set aside the remaining cream cheese.
- Remove the cranberry jalapeño mixture from the refrigerator and drain the liquid from it over the sink.
- Spoon the cranberry jalapeño mixture evenly over the the center of the cream cheese layer of the flatbread. Set aside remaining cranberry jalapeño mixture.
- Place the bow at the center of the lower half of the wreath.
- Spread remaining cream cheese in a shallow dish or bowl. Spoon remaining cranberry jalapeño mixture over the softened cream cheese. Place the bowl in the center of the wreath with a cheese spreader.
- Serve immediately.
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