A snapshot of a typical conversation Erin has with herself on any given day during the months of October through December:
Erin 1: “MAN, I can’t WAIT to make that pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving! I’ve been waiting all year!”
Erin 2: “Woohoo! But, don’t forget about the apple pie bars you need to make for Friendsgiving the Saturday before…”
Erin 3: “Wait, isn’t that the same day as the brunch you agreed to go to six months ago?”
Erin 4: “No sweat! I’ll make what I need for Friendsgiving on Friday…while I make the cookies for our work party at the same time…”
As you can see, at this point in the year, two trends start to ironically take off at the same time: the amount of holiday parties to attend increases dramatically, while the expectation of fanciness at said parties follows suit. Basically, you start having half the time to produce something that is seemingly twice as intricate as what you would normally make. And while the Fall and holiday season are supposed to be periods of bliss, joy, family and all that good stuff… often times, it’s turns into a bit of a nightmare instead.
Well, never fear, this cheat treat is here! This week, I focused my energy on learning how to make fancy puff pastries, four ways. Each of them are super easy, take very little time, and look like a million bucks. And, all you need is some fruit, sugar, vanilla, cream cheese, and pre-made puff pastry. Let’s get started!
First, for whichever variation you choose, you’ll need to make a cream cheese filling/topping. This will end up baking to be firm in the oven while holding all of your fruit in place. Think of it as a dollop of cheesecake held by a puffy cup. For any one of the varieties to follow, mix up 8 ounces of cream cheese, a quarter cup of sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla until smooth, and you’re good to go!
Up next, we’ll be slicing, dicing, and folding our thawed puff pastry.
Cut a sheet of puff pastry in ninths, and fold each piece in half. Slit in a triangle shape, leaving a piece attached at the top. Unfold, and turn the flaps over onto the other side. Dollop on some of the cream cheese mix and top with a strawberry.
Cut the sheet of puff pastry into ninths. For each square: cut slits so that you will have four triangles, all still attached to the middle. Fold one corner of each triangle into the center. Place a dollop of cream cheese and four blueberries on top of the middle section.
Cut the puff pastry sheet into fourths. For each piece: cut slits as if you were creating a border, leaving a small attached area in the middle of each side. Place a spoonful of cream cheese and four raspberries into the middle. Fold each corner to the center, allowing the raspberries to peek through the empty spaces. Place an additional raspberry in the center.
Caramel Chocolate Braid
Cut the puff pastry sheet into fourths. For each piece: Slit slanted lines on each side, parallel to each other. Leave at least 2-3 inches in the middle of the square, uncut. Place chocolate in the center. I used caramel filled dark chocolate, but you can use whatever your heart desires. Alternately fold the flaps over the chocolate, creating a braid. Pinch the bottom and top sections together.
Once on the pan, any of the varieties above should be cooked for 20-25 minutes, in a oven set to 350 degrees. You’ll know they’re finished when the puff pastry has risen and is golden brown.
There it is folks, a brunch showstopper, four different ways. Make any one of these, and you’ll look like you’ve spent hours slaving over a hot stove (or stopping at your local bakery and paying top dollar), when really…you spent 30 minutes. Tops.
Next week, we’re celebrating a national holiday! Didn’t you know…National Oatmeal Day is only one. Week. Away? Get pumped.
Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!