Easy Puff Pastry Appetizers: A Fast and Easy Party Shortcut

New Year’s Eve is a fancy, go-all-out holiday. It calls for Champagne, glitter, and your best party outfit.

It’s a celebration worthy of sophisticated food, like chocolate truffles and fancy cheese puffs. But after weeks of marathon holiday baking sessions (Christmas cookies and sweet breads, we’re looking at you), putting a little extra effort into party food is the last thing we want to do.

Enter Fast and Easy Puff Pastry. This brilliant recipe mimics the elegant, complicated texture of classic puff pastry with a fraction of the work.

The trick to the recipe is to leave your butter in very large chunks. You should have some dry spots and some large pieces of butter. They’ll likely look too big the first time you try it, but these chunks get distributed as you fold the dough, giving the final pastry a layered puff. The recipe also relies on the help of baking powder to add to the rise.

Classic puff pastry relies on many more layers to create an ethereal flakiness to the dough. By cutting corners and making fewer layers, you’ll get close to the same result. It’s not quite as flaky as classic puff pastry, but it’s pretty darn close.

Be sure to use very cold butter. Chilling ensures that the butter won’t soften and melt, making a homogeneous (and therefore dense) dough.

Once you master this simple recipe, the (party) possibilities are endless. I suggest making a double batch and keeping some on hand in the freezer for last-minute entertaining.

On the savory side, you can make cheese straws, miniature vegetable tarts, spinach and pesto pinwheels, pigs in a blanket, sausage empanadas, and more. Or go sweet and try sugared elephant ears, fruit-filled turnovers, dark chocolate twists, or quick apple tarts.

Now let’s walk through the recipe! I’ll show you the steps, and then two of my favorite ways to use puff pastry for entertaining: Brie bites with jam, and cheese straws. Both are excellent New Year’s Eve ideas! Just don’t forget the Champagne.

The Master Recipe: Fast and Easy Puff Pastry

You’ll need:
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup cold sour cream

Fast Puff Pastry via @kingarthurflour

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

Fast Puff Pastry via @kingarthurflour

Add the butter, working it with your fingers or a fork to make a coarse mixture. Leave most of the butter in large chunks.

Fast Puff Pastry via @kingarthurflour

Stir in the sour cream. Don’t worry about the dough being cohesive! You should have plenty of dry spots.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly a few times to bring it together.

Pat the dough into a rough log and roll it out to an 8″ x 10″ rectangle.

Fast Puff Pastry via @kingarthurflour

Fast Puff Pastry via @kingarthurflour

Fast Puff Pastry via @kingarthurflour

Starting with the shorter end, fold the dough in three like a business letter.

Fast Puff Pastry via @kingarthurflour

Flip the dough over, turn it 90 degrees, and roll it out to an 8″ x 10″ rectangle again.

Repeat the folding in three again.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before using it. If you’re making it ahead, you can freeze it at this point.

When you’re ready to use it, thaw the dough if frozen. Roll the puff pastry out to your desired thickness and get creative!

Open-Faced Brie and Jam Puff Pastry Bites

Fast Puff Pastry via @kingarthurflour

To make simple and pretty Brie and jam bites, start by rolling out your puff pastry to 1/2″ thickness.

Cut your puff pastry into 3″ squares. Place a dollop of raspberry jam and a small piece of Brie cheese on the center of each square. Pinch the corners up a bit to create a slightly scooped shape.

Bake the squares on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 375°F for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed. You can also bake them in miniature muffin cups to give them a more defined shape.

Flaky Cheese Twists

Fast Puff Pastry via @kingarthurflour

These addictive appetizers are always the center of attention at a party.

Start by rolling out a single recipe of your puff pastry to a 12″ x 24″ rectangle.

Beat an egg with a tablespoon of water and brush this over the surface of the dough. Save the remainder for later.

Sprinkle 3/4 to 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese over the dough with some freshly ground pepper (or paprika, for color; or cayenne, for heat). Lightly press the cheese into the dough using a rolling pin.

Fold the dough in half to create a 12″ x 12″ square. Gently roll until the two halves stick together; you’ll now have a rectangle about 12″ x 13″.

Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise to make two rectangles, each 6″ x 13″. Cut each rectangle into 3/4″-wide strips using a sharp knife or pastry wheel.

Twist each strip gently and place it on a parchment-lined sheet. Brush with the remaining egg wash; sprinkle with salt, if desired.

Bake the twists for 12 to 15 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool slightly on a rack before serving.

Now that you have the perfect New Year’s Eve recipe, you can use all the time you’ve saved to make an extra batch of chocolate chip cookies. Because cookies are the ultimate party food (in our world).

comments

  1. sandy

    I have made quick puff pastry for years and it is really worth the little bit of effort it takes. I could not stand the after taste from the “easy to find in the store” brand. I looked for store bought puff pastry made from butter, but could not find it so I decided to try the quick puff pastry recipes. The recipe I use is different than this one. Just flour, butter, water, and salt. I also combine mine in the food processor in a few quick bursts. It’s really messy when you dump it out to shape, but it comes together quickly. The folding is the same however. I think the recipe and technique were taken from Julia Child.
    But back to the point of this post…. Puff pasty does make wonderful and easy starters. We especially like to cut the pastry into little rounds, put a bit of pesto in the center and a few slices of cherry tomato then bake.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Another great idea for puff pastry. It really is amazing just how quickly this recipe comes together. Once this is realized, I don’t know anyone can go back to store bought! Elisabeth@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Frozen butter is a bit too stiff to work into the butter; butter the is very cold right from the fridge is best. Enjoy this recipe! Kye@KAF

  2. Ana

    How would this recipe be modified to be gluten free? And still perform like regular gluten dough? Is it possible? Would love to have that recipe work.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Ana, you can use gluten-free flour in a one to one ratio with standard flour, but you will need to make some adjustments. Because gluten is the network that holds baked goods together, you will need a product called xanthan gum; the gluten-free version of the gluten network. Without it, your goodies will fall apart because they will have very little holding them together. You can add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. So if a recipe calls for 4 cups of flour, use one whole teaspoon of xanthan gum. I hope this helps. If you try it out, let us know how it works! Bryanna@KAF

    2. Regina

      I made this with the gluten free all purpose flour and added 1/2 tsp of xantham gum. It did not hold together at all using the recommended 1/4 tsp per cup of flour.

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      Regina, we now have a new product called Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour. It can be used to replace the all-purpose flour in almost any (non-yeast) recipe, including this one. It will give you better results than trying to use gluten-free flour in this recipe. We hope you take advantage of this new possibility and give it a shot! Kye@KAF

  3. sandy

    I have already commented on this post, but I love puff pastry so much I could not resist the urge to post again. I often make Alsatian Tarts with quick puff pastry. I cut the pastry in a square ( 10″ x 10″ or so), take a little knife and cut a border around the square (not all the way through the pastry – just the top layer) and then prick the center with a fork. Keep the puff pastry chilled. I then spread the center with a mix of cream cheese and sour cream – 3 ozs of each creamed together at room temp with salt and pepper to taste). On top of that I add lots of caramelized onions (from four cups of raw onion) and bake. It gets nice and brown, tastes and smells wonderful and is really easy. This is really something special. It is very impressive looking.

    Reply
    1. ra

      Sorry if this gets double posted, but don’t see my reply. I would love to see a photo of your Alsatian Tart(s) although don’t see a way to upload here. If you have photos, please email me one: ramcclain-at-mac-dot-com, and thanks.

    2. PJ Hamel

      Sorry, the Alsatian tarts were a suggestion of another reader, not us; so no access to any photos. They do sound good, though! 🙂 PJH

    3. Teri

      What oven temperature would you recommend? And timing? I had these tarts in Alsace at a sidewalk cafe and fell in love with them. Would love to make them for my friends and family. Thank you for sharing!

    4. sandy

      to Ann Marie – I bake the tart at 400 for about 30 mins or so. Don’t over brown the onions. Keep them fairly light but soft. It is a wonderful tart. Your guests will be impressed. I also make these tarts with yeasted dough too (like pizza dough) but the puff pastry is so beautiful and special. Do a google search and see how many variations there are (even apple).

  4. Nikki

    There is a recipe similar to this in my OLD Betty Crocker cookbook. I have made this for years but have started to wonder if there was not a better quick puff pastry. I know I should have looked here before but..live and learn.
    I will make this for a meeting that I go to and I often bake for the group. (Alzheimer’s support group and baking is my “release”)
    My “resolution” this year is to try a few more challenging things and REAL puff pastry was going to be one of them. So I will consider this as a stepping stone to that goal.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Nikki, we’re glad baking provides a release for you during difficult times and we’d love to help you fulfill your resolution! Please consider us your baking companion as you take on more challenging baking projects. We’re always here to help on the Baker’s Hotline at 855-371-2253(BAKE). Barb@KAF

  5. Lola

    Thanks for the recipe, and I’m not trying to be critical, but was wondering why this was suggested as a New Year’s appetizer but not shown till Jan 3? I would love to have received this a week before Christmas or New Years so I could have included it in my party menus.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re sorry you missed this- it was originally posted on 12/29. Now you have lots of time to practice for the next holiday! Laurie@KAF

  6. Mlm

    Laurie@KAF people are asking Sandy who posted a tart recipe in the comments for time and temp. Not on the KAF recipes

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We saw that, and the original poster of the comment will need to respond to that question. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  7. Shalryn

    I love, love, love this recipe, especially as in many cases, I think my enthusiasm outstrips my abilities. No matter how prone one is to messing up, this recipe WORKS.

    If one has some time, it can be made even flakier by re-folding and re-rolling two or three times. If one needs the shortcut, this is perfect. I use this for just about everything under the sun. It’s my go-to for making sausage rolls, and it makes a mean egg-roll type appetizer as well. It’s my base for cherry turnovers, raspberry-nectarine strudels, and nut rolls. It has even become a favorite crust that I use for anything from topping a chicken pot pie to creating pizza-bites for appetizers. This morning, I played with it and ended up with some of the best quick Morning Cinnamon Croissants ever.

    For me, this recipe has become one of the “Must Have” foundation recipes every baker needs.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That’s one variation we haven’t tried yet. Gluten in wheat gives a bit of snap and chew to the dough and helps hold the crispy pockets of air generated by the steam in the dough. GF flour doesn’t have that same snap and won’t keep the same texture, but you can certainly experiment to see if it works for you. Happy testing! Laurie@KAF

  8. Alison T

    Dear KAF,

    Please read comments more carefully. People are asking for the time and temperature for the Alsatian Tart that Sandy describes in her comment. NOT the instructions for the KAF recipes. I did a search and there is not a recipe on your website with the word Alsatian in it.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for setting us straight, Alison! We’ve removed the incorrect responses. Barb@KAF

  9. Aunt Susan

    I’m working with two others to cook and serve luncheon for 32 woman. Can these be made ahead? How long will they stay fresh? How do you suggest storing them for serving the next day.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can make them a day ahead and store them loosely covered in a dry place. Reheat for a few minutes before serving. You can also make and freeze all the pastries ahead and bake them a few hours before serving. Laurie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Certainly- use plain yogurt, and to avoid too much moisture, either drain it or use the Greek style. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t experimented much with it ourselves, Regina, but all signs point to yes! Happy gf baking. Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We love keeping prepared puff pastry in the freezer for when unexpected guests come over! You can wrap it tightly in plastic and keep it for up to two months. Otherwise, the dough will last for about 2-3 days in the fridge. Happy puff baking! Kye@KAF

  10. EL

    I note in your instructions above for the open faced Brie and jam puffs that you say to roll out the dough to a 1/2″ thickness. Isn’t that quite thick? I normally roll mine out quite a bit thinner than that for a similar appetizer that I make and it still puffs up so much that the “filling” slides off unless I am very careful. Is this a mistake?

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood, post author

      It is pretty thick! I like it that way but feel free to roll it out more thinly if you prefer that texture and find it holds the filling better. -Posie

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