Pastries are irresistible


Racool, freerangestock.com

Puff pastry can be served in the simplest of ways, including croissants. Who doesn’t love their tender, flaky texture?

Usually, I lean toward baking sweet yeast breads this time of year, as I inherited that habit from my Italian Nana. But this year, I thought I would focus on pastries that are made from frozen puff pastry sheets and crescent dough. They seem to take a lot less time, and for various reasons, time for baking is a bit scarce these days.


I find that items made with puff pastry sheets are best if served very soon after baking. One time I made a slab pie the day before a holiday dinner, and I used puff pastry. I was very disappointed when I went to serve it to company and the previously light, flaky crust layers had turned into a soggy mess. It would have been just fine if I had served it the same day as baking it, but I was trying to do whatever I could ahead of time.


I am sure there are many success stories for baking puff pastry a day ahead, but for me, it just didn’t work out at all.


I hope Spring is being kind to you so far. I am steeling myself for the onslaught of pollen-related allergies and the annual invasion of ants, but other than that, I am enjoying the new season. Take care, stay safe.


Easy croissants


Before rolling each one up, you can add some chocolate chips, jam, nuts, cheese, cooked sausage, ham or anything you like.


1 large egg


1 tablespoon water


1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry sheets (1 sheet), thawed


1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick baking mat. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk; set aside.


2. Lightly flour work surface. Unfold the pastry sheet then lightly dust top with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll the sheet into a 16-inch square. Cut pastry square in half then cut each half into four rectangles (making eight, 8-inch by 4-inch rectangles). Cut each rectangle diagonally into two triangles (making 16 triangles).


3. Starting at the wider end, roll each triangle up. Place each croissant seam-side down so that the tip of the triangle is tucked under the rolled croissant. Then, bend in the edges, creating a crescent shape. Lightly brush tops of croissants with egg wash.


4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until they are golden brown.


Apple cinnamon pastries


2 tablespoons sugar


1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


1 cup diced, unpeeled apples


3 tablespoons raisins


1 egg, beaten


1 package puff pastry sheets


Icing:


1 tablespoon powdered sugar


1 to 2 teaspoons heavy cream


1. Preheat oven to 400. In a small bowl, combine the sugar with the cinnamon and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, add the apples, the cinnamon sugar mixture and the raisins. Toss well to combine and set aside.


2. Roll out the puff pastry onto a floured surface. Cut into 4-by-3-inch rectangles. Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg around the perimeter of each rectangle.


3. Fill one half with a scoop of the apple mixture, about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Top with second half of pastry and seal shut using the tines of a fork, pressing down into the pastry all the way around.


4. Brush pastry tops with egg wash, and then make 4 to 5 slits across the apple mound for ventilation. Transfer with a floured spatula to a parchment-lined cookie sheet.


5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, depending on it they were frozen or not (if frozen will take the full 35 minutes. If not frozen, 25 to 30 minutes). If not freezing before, do take the time to firm up the dough by popping the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or freezer for 10 minutes. This keeps the pastry from melting too quickly in the oven and losing its shape.


6. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar and heavy cream and whisk until smooth. Start with 1 teaspoon of cream, and if the mixture is too thick add the second teaspoon.


7. Drizzle the glaze on the pastries with a fork in a zig-zag motion. Transfer pastries to cake stand or platter, and serve. Makes 6 servings.


Lemon berry cheesecake puffs


1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed


8 ounces cream cheese, softened


1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest



1/2 tablespoon lemon juice


1/4 teaspoon vanilla


1 egg


1 cup lemon curd


Assortment of fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries


Confectioners’ sugar


Extra lemon zest, optional


1. Preheat oven to 375. Cut both sheets of dough to make 12 small rectangles. Lay the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.


2. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth. Add the egg and beat until combined. Divide the cheesecake mixture among the 12 pastries, leaving space around the edges. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastries are a light golden brown. Let cool completely.


3. Divide the lemon curd among the cooled pastries. Top with your desired fresh berries then dust with powdered sugar before serving. If desired, sprinkle with extra lemon zest for a nice pop of flavor. Keep chilled until ready to serve. Makes 12 servings.


Caramelized onion and mushroom bites


4 tablespoons salted butter, divided


2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided


5 to 6 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced


2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced


1/4 teaspoon dried thyme


1 tablespoon sugar


1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Salt and pepper, to taste


4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese (can also use applewood smoked Gruyere)


1 package (1 pound) frozen puff pastry, thawed


1 egg, lightly beaten


1. In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil along with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes until tender. Remove and set aside in a medium bowl.


2. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter along with the 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the onions for 5 minutes. Add the dried thyme and sugar and continue to cook for 25 minutes on medium low heat. Make sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so. If the onions are caramelizing too fast, turn down the heat a little more. Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan; allow the onions to soak it all in. Turn off heat. Add the onions to the mushroom mixture. Season with the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste; stir to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature. Mixture can be kept in an air-tight container and refrigerated for up to 48 hours at this point. Allow to come to room temperature before proceeding. Add the Gruyere cheese and mix well.


3. Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.


4. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the puff pastry into 2-inch squares and place them on a lined baking sheet. Make sure the puff pastry is cold before proceeding. If not, allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes before proceeding. Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg on the squares. Place a tablespoon of caramelized onion mixture in the center. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway in between until crisp and golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving. Makes 30 to 34 pieces.


Easy crab puffs


8 ounces crab meat (preferably fresh)


1/4 cup mayonnaise


1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


1 clove garlic, minced


1/4 teaspoon paprika


1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley, plus more for optional garnish


1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper


1 can crescent dough sheet


1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a mini muffin tin all over, even the top, set aside.


2. Place the crab, mayonnaise, Dijon, garlic, paprika, parsley, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Gently mix together until combined; set aside.


3. Unroll the dough onto a clean work surface and cut as evenly as you can into 24 equal square pieces. Press each piece into a section of the mini muffin tin, pressing down to form into the tin.


4. Fill the cups evenly with the crab mixture. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes until golden brown.


5. Let cool for a couple of minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool until ready to eat. Garnish with additional parsley, if desired. Makes 24 puffs.

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