Super simple party-perfect treats
I’m often asked what staples I keep on hand in my fridge, freezer and pantry so I can whip up some treats on short notice. At the top of my list is frozen puff pastry. It’s so versatile and easy to work with plus anything made with puff pastry just seems fancy, almost like it came from a caterer or whatever popular take-out food shop is nearest to your home. One important tip about frozen puff pastry is that you don’t want to work with it at room temperature. Ideally, you’ll thaw it overnight in the fridge; in a pinch you can thaw it on the kitchen counter, but be sure to work with it while it’s still cold (or put it back in the fridge for a bit before you roll it out). These galettes (a French word for a flat cake or tart) are so fast to prepare and can be baked ahead of time and served at room temperature, or reheated in the oven prior to serving. I have made them several different ways but my two favourites are with brie as well as a blue cheese and walnut combination. I love serving these as appetizers, but they’d also make a great lunch with a side salad.
- 2 ripe Bartlett pears
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Two sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold
- 125 g blue cheese, crumbled or Brie, sliced
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line two baking trays with parchment and set aside.
- Core the pears and slice thinly. Place the slices in a heavy duty frying pan (cast iron is ideal) with the butter and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring gently, until softened but not mushy. Gently stir in the honey and set aside.
- Place one sheet of puff pastry on a fresh piece of parchment paper that has about a teaspoon of flour scattered over it. Sprinkle another teaspoon of flour over the top side of the puff pastry then place a second sheet of parchment over top.
- With a rolling pin, gently roll out the puff pastry at the top and bottom only, to create a rectangle approximately 10 x 12 inches.
- Remove the top piece of parchment paper and with a large, sharp knife, cut the pastry into twelve rectangles.
- With the tip of a smaller, sharp knife, lightly score the puff pastry about 1 cm (1/3 inch) in from the edge, trying not to cut all the way through the rectangle (but don’t panic if you do accidentally cut through as it will likely self-heal while baking). Creating this border will allow the edge of the puff pastry to rise a bit more than the centre.
- Lay the twelve squares on the parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat the above steps with the second piece of puff pastry.
- Divide the sautéed pear slices among the twenty-four little puff pastry rectangles, keeping the fruit in the centre (within the border you made by scoring the pastry). Drizzle any pan juices over the fruit using a small spoon.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until pastry is nicely browned.
- Remove tray from oven and top with cheese (plus nuts, if using) and return to the oven for 5 – 7 minutes longer, just until cheese has melted.
- Serve immediately or set aside to serve later at room temperature. If you want to reheat them before serving, place in 350F oven for 5 minutes.
Makes 24 scrumptious appetizers.