Hello, fabulous peoples! Get out your fancy duds and sparkling glasses of wine – we’re making fancy food once more!
OK, so you don’t actually need classy clothes and the best red wine available; these yummy little finger foods are for the people, all the people. We razed the Pampered Chef appetizer cookbook once more to test out their small army of easy, yummy appetizers. This time we were pleased with it all – as is!
As I write this post and look again at this ingredients shot, it kind of looks like, “Really? You expect me to make tasty, delicious magic with this sadly-presented mess?”
And the answer is YES YOU CAN. Oh man, can you. Yes.
You have to be careful with some packaged foods. You don’t want just any cookies. Everyone knows homemade are best. And pesto is one of those things that’s very easy to make and great homemade, but you still have to shop for all the ingredients, and frankly gathering enough fresh basil or other herbs for one can get pricey. There’s the time-saving aspect as well and this particular pesto I’ve used before and find very tasty. Ker-plop some down in your filling bowl and be on your way to taste-tastic-ness. Go on, shoo now. Go forth and open little pesto jars!
I know, I know. Ham? We want you to put ham in your fancy schmancy pastry thingies? Yup! Even we were like, OK then, ham it is. And it is nice. Very nice. You obviously don’t need a lot but it will not be lost in these pastry bites. It lends just the right amount of…ham-y-ness. Heh! What I’m trying to say is it’s good, works great with the cream cheese/pesto/cheese filling and is all things yum.
Time to apply that filling. We’re using the ever-awesome thawed puff pastry, so that’s a plus. The back of a spatula works great for spreading the filling to all corners for maximum filling potential. Be sure to spread it as evenly as possible. When you cut the rolls into individual pieces later, the filling might try to squish out a little, but that’s OK. Just gently shove it back in. Be the filling boss!
Now we make the folds, the folds that will ensure our little pastries become cute little pastries! It’s easier than you think. Start by folding like above, about an inch to inch-and-a-half in on each side. The two sides, they’re gonna meet in the middle. Choose whichever song feels appropriate to you at this point. The one that came to my mind had a distinctive country twang, oddly enough.
I’d start walking your way, You’d start walking mine…
Wow, I really didn’t expect that one to come to mind. I haven’t swung the country music vine in a while. Moving on!
Finish by folding one more time on each side, then getting them to do that little meet-up deal, pressing slightly to seal them together. If you find that they’re a little hard to cut, and softened puff pastry dough can be when filled with things, try placing the rolls in your fridge or freezer for a short while to firm them up. Don’t forget to cover them before doing so, so that the pastry doesn’t dry out.
Give your pastries the parchment paper or silicone baking mat-lined cookie sheet love and get ready to bake! Because I’m a little paranoid, we did try to reshape ours a little, especially on the bottoms, which get flat while folding the rolls. Just pull down on them a little to make them more rounded at the bottom.
Ours didn’t come out as purty as the cookbook picture, but they took on the necessary shape due to the folding and – most important – they taste insanely good. It’s both very unfortunate and very good that I had to share them. Would you believe me if I told you I only ate two or three? The rest went to others! It’s good to share. Sometimes my taste buds cry a river when I do, but it’s still good.
Gotta go wipe off the drool. Back in a sec.
These are the kind of recipe where it’s a good idea to have some reserves on hand. I can almost guarantee they will go fast, whether you contribute to the feasting frenzy or not. Perfect for a casual get together with friends or sparkle-fied with fancier times, you can now make your very own special party appetizers that look like they came from a catering biz. It took you very little time and they give back lots of smiles. Sounds like a win!
Pesto Cheese Pastries
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Level: Easy Makes: about 16 pieces
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
- 1/2 package frozen puff pastry sheets (1 sheet), thawed
- 2 ounces thinly sliced deli ham (about 6 slices)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth using a whisk. Grate Parmesan cheese into the bowl; add pesto and mix well
Unfold pastry dough onto flat side of a large cutting board; lightly roll seams using a rolling pin. Arrange ham over dough, overlapping if necessary. Spread cream cheese mixture over ham the ham (a spatula works great). Bring bottom edge of dough up to create a 1 & 1/2 inch fold; bring edge up again to make another 1 & 1/2 inch fold. Repeat on opposite side. Fold dough in half, bringing folded edges together. Press dough lightly together to seal. (You can make this up to three days ahead up to this point. Cover well and refrigerate till needed.)
Cut dough crosswise into sixteen 1/4 inch-thick slices. Place slices cut-side up onto sheet pan. Bake 22-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
To make these a little easier to cut, cover the rolls well and put them in the fridge for a little while one to two hours. If any filling tries to escape while cutting, just gently push it back into that piece. The second time I made these, I’d made them the night before up to the folding steps and refrigerated. The next day they were so much easier to cut and even baked up nicer looking. They smell great while baking and if making them for guests, they’ll be asking what that great smell is.
These are so easy to make, we recommend doubling the recipe to get more bang for your time. You will pretty much have all the ingredients needed for two anyway. Go for it!
Don’t forget to give your puff pastry dough time to thaw. You can do this in the fridge if necessary, but at room temp on the counter it takes about 30 minutes if you remove the amount of pastry dough sheets you want to use. Place them on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper or even the cutting board you’ll be using, also lightly dusted with flour.
Keep in mind that some guests trying these might have a nut allergy – pesto often contains pine or other nuts.