Puff Pastry appetizers; Tarts, Braids & Pinwheels

Tarts in Puff Pastry Sheets...       
        Appetizer Tarts, Preparing Puff Pastry Shell
      Mushroom Tart in a Puff Pastry Shell
      Slow Oven Roasted Tomato Tart in a Puff Pastry Shell 
       Shrimp Scampi Tart in a Puff Pastry Shell
        Puff Pastry with Eggplant, Roasted Tomatoe, Ricotta, and Other Italian Cheeses 
        Smaller 4"x13" Fluted Puff Pastry Tarts; One Sheet 2 Perfect Tarts 
       Tomato, Cheese, and Bacon Puff Pastry Appetizer
Puff Pastry Appetizer Braids...
       Assembly and Braiding Technique
       Braided Puff Pastry with Italian Cheeses and Cured Italian Meats
       Braided Puff Pastry with Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Italian Cheeses
       Spanakopita, Smaller Serving Size Made Even Easier with Braided Puff Pastry
Appetizers in Puff Pastry Pinwheels...
      Simple and Amazing Appetizers and Snacks
      Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Cured Italian Meats and Cheeses
      Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Salami, Provolone, and Mustard Dip
      Ham and Cheddar Cheese Pinwheels
      Pinwheels with Mushrooms, Dutch Cheese, Butter and Sherry
      Pizza Pinwheels  
      Spinach Ricotta Pinwheels with Parmigiana and Optional Additions
      Prosciutto Gorgonzola and Fig Pinwheels




Tarts in Puff Pastry Sheets...

Preparing Puff Pastry Shell
The most common and widely distributed brand of puff pastry is Pepperidge Farms found in the freezer section of grocery stores.  Each package contains 2 tri-folded 10”x15” sheets.  A rolling pin can be used to lightly smooth the folds and conveniently fit sheets in a 9" x 13'" cookie sheet and up their 1 inch high sides. 

Some purists prefer brands like Dufour.  Claims are their puff pastry is more like homemade, using butter instead of shortening or other fats.  Often carried by specialty stores, if baking delicate pastries like Palmier, Mille-feuille (classic French Napoleons), or Paris Breasts where the richness of butter is appreciated and rewarding, their preference maybe justified.  However, for most other applications like supporting puff pastry appetizers topped with hardy ingredients, Pepperidge Farms puff pastry works well. 

Blind Baking Tart Shells
Tarts baked in a puff pastry shell are usually "blind baked", precooked prior to filling.  Baking puff pastry on parchment helps protect bottoms from overcooking and makes it easier to release finished tarts to cutting board when dividing tart into serving portions. 

Use an egg wash, 1 egg with 2 teaspoons water, to help seal top surface from getting soggy from moist toppings.  For additional protection, some recipes also suggest sprinkling grated parmigiana cheese over the egg wash before pre-baking to provide even further moisture protection from the melted cheese.

To help prevent pastry from shrinking and bubbling during baking, pierce pastry with a folk or a dough “docker”, a roller with spikes for larger or multiple surfaces.  Note:  dockers are also handy to use on pizza dough.

Bake shells at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes until dough is browned.  Pre-baked crusts and toppings can be made well ahead, even the day before.  Once topping is added, final bake tarts until heated or cooked through and crust richly browned.
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Cookie sheet lined with parchment, pastry rolled to size, pierced, fitted, egg washed and parmigiana if suggested, ready to blind bake.

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Blind baked.
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Toppings added; final bake.

Mushroom Tart in a Puff Pastry Shell
This mushroom tart is simple, elegant and delicious.  Mushrooms, sherry, butter and tarragon blend together perfectly.  I often use this combination and chicken broth to serve as a mushroom sherry side dish

I've used Edam cheese in this tart because of its excellent melting qualities and its slightly nutty flavors.  Try it with other great melting cheeses like Fontina, Gruyere, Asiago and others.

The mushroom filling in this tart was made the day before and spread onto the "blind baked" shell a couple of hours before company.  It was topped with Edam cheese and heated through as company arrived.      
Ingredients:
Tart shell
  • 1 Puff Pastry sheet
  • 1 egg whisked with 2 teaspoons water
  • Grated parmigiana cheese
Filling
  • 2 pounds white or baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-14.4oz. can low salt chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup sherry plus extra for brushing
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 7 oz. round of Edam cheese
  • 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried.
  • Pinch salt and a couple grinds black pepper.  
Roll pastry to fit in and up the sides of in a 9"x13" rimmed cookie sheet.  Cover pan with parchment.  Prick the surface of the pastry with a folk or Docker roller tool, place on the parchment lined pan, trimming excess if needed.  Brush surface with egg wash and sprinkle with grated parmigiana cheese.  Bake at 400º for about 15 minutes until richly tanned.  See "Preparing Puff Pastry Shell" above.

Dice mushrooms into 3/8-inch cubes. 

Skin and core garlic cloves.  Cut them in half lengthwise.  Sauté in the olive oil until lightly browned and discard.

Add mushrooms, cook while stirring until all of their liquid is released.  Lightly brown mushrooms while stirring.  

Add chicken broth and about half of the sherry.  Cook until liquid is reduced by about 3/4.  Add remaining sherry and continue cooking until liquid is mostly evaporated; lower heat.

Add butter and 1-cup finely shredded edam cheese, about 4 generous ounces.  Stir until butter and cheese are melted and incorporated.  Remove from heat.  stir in tarragon, salt, and pepper; set aside.     

Spread mushroom mixture onto blind baked puffed pastry.  Lightly brush mushroom mixture with additional sherry.  Using a potato peeler top with strips of remaining edam cheese. 

Bake at 400º until heated through and cheese topping is melted.  Cut and serve. 




Slow Oven Roasted Tomato tart in a Puff Pastry Shell
Fresh Italian style plum tomatoes are slow oven roasted for about 10 hours with a mixture of garlic, olive oil and Kosher salt.  This technique intensifies the flavor of tomatoes as most of their water evaporates.  The Olive oil becomes tomato and garlic infused

The tart is assembled in a pre-baked tart shell starting with shredded 5 Italian cheese mix.  Oven roasted tomatoes are topped with fresh mozzarella cheese balls and basted with the infused oil.  

The baked tart is finished with fresh torn basil.  

Note: I usually prepare the tomatoes the night before; place them in the oven so they are nearly ready the next morning. 

Ingredients:
Roasted Tomato
  • 2-pounds fresh plum tomatoes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves cut in quarters
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
Tart Shell
  • 1 Puff Pastry sheet
  • 1 egg whisked with 2 teaspoons water
  • Grated parmigiana cheese
Remaining Topping
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese mix
  • 1/2-pound small fresh mozzarella cheese balls
  • Shredded basil for topping
The day before, cut tomatoes in half lengthwise.  Remove their rough core.  Place them in a large bowl.  Mix them with olive oil, Kosher salt and garlic.  Have the mixture sit for at least an hour, stirring occasionally

Spread tomatoes round side down in a rimed cookie sheet.  Pour all remaining contents of the bowl over them.  Bake sheet in a 175º oven, not convection.

Tomatoes will be ready when mostly dried but still moist in about 10 hours.  Check their progress after drying 8 or 9 hours.  You can flip tomatoes over exposing round sides and continue drying.

Roll pastry to fit in and up the sides of in a 9"x13" rimmed cookie sheet.  Cover pan with parchment.  Prick the surface of the pastry with a folk or Docker roller tool, place on the parchment lined pan.  Trim excess if needed.  Brush surface with egg wash and sprinkle with grated parmigiana cheese.  See "Preparing Puff Pastry Shell" above.

To assemble the tart, evenly spread the shredded cheese on the bottom of the pre-cooked shell.  Cut each of the roasted tomato halves in 2 or 3 pieces with cooking sheers.  Spread them over the shredded cheese.  Dot the tops with balls of fresh mozzarella.  Drizzle with residual flavored juice from the roasting pan.  

Bake again at 400º until tomatoes are heated through and all cheeses are melted.  Top with basil.  Cut and serve.



Shrimp Scampi Tart in a Puff Pastry Shell
Puff pastry shell is blind baked crisp and sealed with an egg wash and grated parmigiana cheese.  This can be done well ahead.  

Scampi recipe can also be prepared earlier and remaining ingredients redied for easy assembly prior to final baking.   

Pastry is coated with Italian cheeses then dusted with plain Panko bread crumbs which helps capture scampi’s flavorful juices.  Surface is then topped with shrimp and my favorite Shrimp Scampi sauce finished with freshly crumbled feta cheese.
Flat Breads are then quick oven cooked with elevated direct heat, perfectly, crisping dough and shrimp.

Wild shrimp are much more flavorful than farm raised.  Prices are reasonable.  Pastry conveniently holds 48 shrimp (6 eight count rows of 21 to 30 count Shrimps).  As you can see each serving has 4 shrimp, 12 servings.  
 
Feta cheese is best purchased in moist blocks submerged in brine.  Most pre-crumbled feta tends to lack character.
Ingredients:
Tart shell
  • 1 Puff Pastry sheet
  • 1 egg whisked with 2 teaspoons water
  • Grated parmigiana cheese
Scampi
  • 1 1/2 pounds of Shrimp. 
  • 1 quarter pound of butter, one stick
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic
  • Salt and pepper
Other Ingredients: 
  • 1 ½ cups shredded Italian cheese mix
  • 1/2 cup plain Panko bread crumbs
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Optional, fresh chopped parsley
Roll pastry to fit the bottom and sides of in a 9"x13" rimmed cookie sheet.  Cover pan with parchment.  Prick the surface of the pastry with a folk or Docker roller tool, place on the parchment lined pan, trimming excess if needed.  Brush surface with egg wash and sprinkle with grated parmigiana cheese; bake at 400º for about 15 minutes until richly tanned and sealed.  See "Preparing Puff Pastry Shell" above.

Remove shrimp shells including tail section; devein.  Rinse in cold water and pat dry.  Set them aside.

In a pot, large enough to comfortably hold all the shrimp and sauce, melt the butter over low heat.  Add and combine olive oil, lemon juice, scallions, garlic, salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.

When ready to assemble, pre-heat oven to 400º direct heat. 

Spread pastry with shredded cheese; sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs.

Thoughly stir sauce with shrimp.  If butter has separated, warm the sauce slightly first.  Scoop solids with shrimp and evenly distribute them in 6 rows of 8 shrimp on the pastry.  Spoon remaining solids and a some of the scampi sauce over shrimp.  Too much can make puff pastry soggy.  Also, be careful not to drip sauce under pasrtry.       

Cook shrimp above center of oven.  Tart will be read in about 8-10 minutes when shrimp is just cooked through.  

Sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Cut into serving portions and enjoy.




Puff Pastry with Eggplant, Roasted Tomato, Ricotta, and Other Italian Cheeses
Puff pastry provides an elegant and functional base to serve parmigiana style eggplant.  Flavorful cheese layer includes ricotta, shredded Italian cheese mix and shredded parmigiana.  Fire roasted tomatoes complements this great appetizer without overpowering.

It can be assembled well ahead of company, heated through; finished when company arrives.       
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Ingredients:
Preparing eggplant
  • 2 large eggplant
  • Kosher salt for disgorging
  • Flour for dusting
  • Olive oil (or favorite cooking oil)
Tart Shell
  • 1 Puff Pastry sheet
  • 1 egg whisked with 2 teaspoons water
  • Grated parmigiana cheese
Cheese mixture
  • ½ 15 oz. container of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2 cups, 8 ounces shredded Italian cheese mix separated
  • 1 cup shredded parmigiana cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes   
Eggplant can be prepared several hours earlier or the day before.  Remove eggplant tips, peel, and cut into ¼-inch thick rounds.  Lightly salt both sides and place them single layer on paper towels or layered a pasta strainer.  Let eggplant sweat to remove their bitterness a half hour or more.  Wipe both sides of eggplant with paper towels to remove residual salt and sweat. 

Pour oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Dredge eggplant in flour and shake off excess.  Place them single layer in heated oil.  When the top side of eggplant moistens, flip over.  When both sides are tanned and cooked through, place them on paper towels.  Repeat, adding more oil, adjusting heat as needed.  This step can be done earlier as well.   
   
Line a 9"x13" rimmed cookie sheet with parchment.  Roll pastry to fit bottom and sides.  Prick pastry with a folk or Docker roller tool.  Place on the lined pan.  Brush surface with egg wash and sprinkle with grated parmigiana cheese.  See "Preparing Puff Pastry Shell" above.  Bake at 400° until tanned, about 15 minutes. 

In a bowl mix ricotta cheese, egg, 1 cup of the shredded Italian cheese mix, shredded parmigiana cheese and few grinds of black pepper.

To assemble, spread fire roasted tomatoes over pastry.  Spoon half of ricotta cheese mixture over followed by a layer of ½ of the second cup shredded Italian cheese blend. 

Overlap layer with half of the eggplant.  Repeat with roasted tomato, spooning remaining ricotta mixture and shredded cheese.  Finish by layering remaining eggplant, roasted tomatoes, and topping with shredded second half of the shredded Italian cheeses.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil and bake in a 350° oven until heated through and top layer is browned.  Cut into squares and serve.   

Cut and serve. 


        
Smalller 4"x13" Fluted Puff Pastry Tarts; One Sheet 2 Perfect Tarts

As discussed above, the most common and widely distributed brand of puff pastry packages contains two 10”x15” sheets.  With little preparation, each sheet also conveniently makes two 4"x13" tarts with fluted sides.

Rectangular fluted tart pans with removeable bottoms are available and approximately 4” x 13”.  Puff pastry sheets cut in half lengthwise will accommodate two of these tart pans.  Having smaller tarts allows for flexibilities, more varieties of fillings, especially attractive with smaller crowds.                 
Ingredients per tart are obviously halved and techniques for “blind baked", precooked prior to filling. 

Shells are also prebaked at 400° but will cook quicker, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Parchment paper isn't needed.  Their smaller footprint will for 15 to 20 minutes until dough is browned. 
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Tomato, Cheese, and Bacon Puff Pastry Appetizer
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Puff pastry is blind baked in a 9” square tart pan with removable bottom. Optional, to help prevent burning, bottom of the tart pan can be lined with parchment.

Pastry is rolled, formed, and trimmed in the tart pan. Pierce with a folk or “docker” roller. Coat with the egg wash and sprinkled with graded parmigiana cheese, and bake. Can be done well ahead.

Toppings are simple but amazingly tasty. Start with a thin layer of crushed roasted or regular plum tomatoes, shredded Italian cheese mix, raw bacon; finished with Asiago cheese slivered with a potato peeler.


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Ingredients:
Tart Shell
  •  9” x 13” Puff Pastry sheet, defrosted
  •  1 egg whisked with 2 teaspoons water
  •  Grated parmigiana cheese
Remaining Topping
  •  3 strips of bacon, sliced ¼ inch across width.
  •  Crushed roasted or plain plum tomato
  •  1 cup shredded Italian cheese mix
  •  Wedge of Asiago cheese.
Spray tart pan with nonstick or line bottom with parchment.

Place pastry on a floured surface. User a roller to increase the short side to about 11 inches. Line tart pan, bottom and sides with pastry and trim excess.

Whisk egg with water. Brush inside surfaces. Sprinkle with grated parmigiana. Bake at 400° convection for about 15 minutes or until pastry is lightly tanned.

When ready to finish tart, lightly coat bottom with tomatoes. Spread shredded cheese on over. Evenly distribute bacon. Top tart with potato peeler slivered Asiago cheese. Place in 400° convection oven.

Cook until bacon is cooked and cheeses are melted, about 15 minutes. Cut and serve.



Puff Pastry Appetizer Braids...
Assembly and Braiding Technique
This braiding technique is usually reserved to make fruit desserts and strudels.  Why limit this imaginative creation for deserts only?

Puff pastry sheet is placed on a lightly floured counter and rolled lengthwise parallel to their fold to about 13 inches. 

   ►  Mirror image slits are cut along both side of rolled pastry (top left). 

    ►  Filling is molded along the center section the length of the pastry sheet as shown (top right). 

    ► Filling is covered with alternated overlapping strips from the side creating a braided effect (lower left).

     ► Brushed with an egg white wash and cooked (lower right.) 

     ► Fresh from the oven (center)

     Results, easy, elegant and delicious. 

This recipe, "Braided Puff Pastry with Italian Cheeses and Cured Italian Meats" is next.





Braided Puff Pastry with Italian Cheeses and Cured Italian Meats
Ricotta, Parmigiana, Shredded Blends, and a Variety of Italian Cold Cuts.     
This appetizer (assembled above) is inspired by Italian Easter Pie, an incredible meat and ricotta cheese treat served in Italian households.  Our family made theirs in a cheesecake or spring form pan with a double bread dough crust.  Filling starts with a base of ricotta and other Italian cheeses, eggs for binding and a combination of different "salumi", cured Italian cold cuts all offering explosive flavors. 

Easter pie is usually reserved only for the Easter Holiday.  This traditional Italian cheese and meat "pie" comes after Good Friday which ends lent, a period of penance and the abstinence from eating meat on Fridays in the Catholic church.  Whether because of its religious significance or simply tradition, my family only served it around Easter.

The filling in this appetizer is made with similar ingredients but in puff pastry with a cheerful braided pattern.  I think it can be offered anytime without breaking tradition.  It's easy to assemble ahead, placed in the oven about a half hour before needed.  I love serving the unexpected.  

This recipe makes 2 identical braids.  If making only one braid, half the recipe.  For eggs, hand beat two eggs and reserve the equivalent of half an egg for the egg wash.   

Ingredients:
  • 2 pack of puff pastry defrosted
Base
  • 1 15 oz. container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) shredded Italian cheese mix
  • 1 cup graded parmigiana cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Additions
  • ¼ pounds Genoa Salami
  • 2-4 oz. prosciutto cubed
  • 1 additional cup shredded Italian cheese mix
Egg wash
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 350 convection.
  
Once defrosted, keep puff pastry refrigerated until ready to use. 

Mix base ingredients until well combined.  Optional, add a small pinch of salt.  Other ingredients have relatively high salt content.  Fold cubed prosciutto into the mixture.  Refrigerate while you prepare pastry.  That helps thicken the mixture slightly for easier handling.  

Slice salami into strips. 

Place one puff pastry on a lightly floured counter top.  Roll lengthwise (parallel to the folds) to about 13 inches.  Cut slits as shown in the picture above.  Spoon and level filling along the center to about 1 ¼ inches high.  Top with about a fourth of the salami.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Add another layer of filling, salami and shredded cheese.  Braid top.  Apply to the next pastry sheet.       

Place both on a tray with parchment paper.  Whisk egg with water; brush each. 

Place in the middle of the oven for about 25 to 35 minutes until browned on all sides and bottom and mixture inside is not runny.  Slice with a bread knife and serve immediately. 

Note:  You can substitute or add any other Italian cured meats.   




Braided Puff Pastry with Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Italian Cheeses
This filled, braided and baked puff pastry uses the same techniques as the prior recipes but with a delicious broccoli rabe, sausage and Italian cheeses stuffing.          
Ingredients:
  • 2 pack of puff pastry defrosted
Base
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1 13.5 oz. can chicken broth
  • 1/2 to 2/3rd pounds ground Italian sausage meat
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 8 oz. shredded Italian cheeses
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup graded parmigiana cheese
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
Egg wash
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


Preheat oven to 350 convection.
  
Once defrosted, keep puff pastry refrigerated until ready to use. 

Remove about 1 1/2 inch of the rabbi stems and any wilted leaves.  Chop rabe into 1 1/2 inch pieces (see illustrations under "Broccoli Rabe Flatbread").

Put the chicken broth in a pot large enough to comfortable hold all of the ingredients.  Once it reaches a boil add the rabe and cook until the thicker stems start to become tender, about 3 minutes.  Remove the rabe with a slotted spoon.  Lower the heat.

Add the Italian sausage meat to the remaining hot chicken broth.  Break the meat apart with a spatula while it is cooking.  When the chicken broth evaporates, cook the sausage meat for about a minute longer while flipping.  Add the sausage to the cooked rabe

Lightly sauté the garlic in the same pot in olive oil.  Once soft, add rabe, sausage meat and the three cheeses.   When cooled to room temperature, add the eggs, blending well with surgical gloves.  Refrigerate for at least a half hour to help solidify the mixture (can be made and refrigerated well ahead of time).      

Place one puff pastry on a lightly floured counter top.  Roll lengthwise (parallel to the folds) to about 13 inches.  Cut slits as shown in the picture above.  Do the same for the second pastry.  Spoon filling equally along the center of both.  Braid both tops (don't be overly fussy).       

Place both on a tray with parchment paper.  Whisk egg with water; brush pastry.  

Place in the middle of the oven for about 25 to 35 minutes until browned on all sides and bottom and mixture inside is not runny.  Slice with a bread knife and serve immediately.


Spanakopita, Smaller Serving Size Made Even Easier with Braided Puff Pastry
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This is a scaled down and very easy version of my original Spanakopita recipe (under "Appetizer" tab).  It uses puff pastry braiding technique discussed above.   

Recipe is for one filled pastry sheet and will comfortable serve 8 as an appetizer. 

Spanakopita filling is assembled in a single bowl mixed by hand covered with surgical gloves. 

Pastry sheet is placed on a lightly floured counter (please see illustration, next recipe below.  Pastry is rolled lengthwise parallel to the fold to increase its length to about 13 inches.  Mirror image slits are cut along both side of the sheet (see picture below).  Filling is molded along the center section, the length of the pastry sheet.  The filling is covered with alternating overlapping strips from the side creating a braided effect and cooked.
Ingredients:
Filling
  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach thawed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4-pound whole feta cheese in brine, not crumbles
  • 1/4-pound sharp white cheddar cheese (not shredded)
  • 2 large eggs whisked
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Sesame seeds
1 Sheet Puff Pastry thawed
Squeeze spinach in small sections by hand to remove as much water as possible.  Place in a mixing bowl. 

Crumble the feta cheese by hand or on a cutting board.  Shred the cheddar cheese with a course cheese grater or knife.  

Add olive oil, cheese, eggs and salt to the spinach bowl.  Using surgical gloves, thoroughly hand combine by squeezing as you would mixing meatballs. 

Place a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured counter.  Cut the sheet as shown below.  Add the filling along the middle of the sheet.

Place the flaps of pastry on the ends on the filling.  Cover the filing by overlapping with alternating lattice.  Place the log on a cookie sheet with parchment.  Brush with butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake at 350º convection until pastry browns and the filling is hot, about 25 minutes.  Slice and serve.




Puff Pastry Pinwheels...
Simple and Amazing Appetizers and Snacks
From clever entertainers capable of crafting eloquent and elaborate appetizers to the self-proclaimed reluctant hosts, puff pastry pinwheels win their place in everyone's appetizer collection. 

Frozen puff pastry sheets are always in my freezer, ready to thaw and be transformed into any of a huge array of delicious eats.  Almost anything that tops crostini and flatbread or ingredients stuffed in sandwiches or calzones can be customized into puff pastry pinwheels.  

I was first introduced to the concept in Mary Ann Esposito’s “Ciao Italia”, the companion cookbook to her famous public broadcasting cooking show.  Her puff pastry sheets were topped with a thin layer of Dijon mustard then Genoa salami and cheese; rolled, sliced in one inch logs and baked on their side.  I was immediately hooked and since created more than a hundred combinations of ingredients and shapes over the years.  They can also be assembled well ahead, customized with your favorite ingredients.
    
As discussed in the introduction to this section, Pepperidge Farms’ frozen puff pastry sheets are sold in the freezer section of most grocery stores.  Each package contains 2 tri-folded 10”x15” sheets. Folded sheets can be thawed at room temperature in only 20 or 25 minutes.  Once defrosted and still slightly chilled, pastry can be unfolded and placed on a lightly floured counter.  A rolling pin smooths creases and expands sheets by about an inch in each direction.

Sheets are topped with favorite ingredients to about a half inch of their edges.  Seams are brushed with an egg wash or simply with water.  Pastry is tightly rolled and sealed; ends pinched.  Wrap rolls in plastic and refrigerating at least 45 minutes to make slicing and handling easier.  When ready to bake, remove wrap and slice into pinwheels about 3/8 inch for appetizers, up to about an inch or so for finger foods. 

Place in an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400°.  Extra high snack size pinwheels may especially those stuffed with uncooked ingredients like sausage and bacon benefit from slightly lower temperatures and longer cooking times to cook through before pastry browns. 

Here are some simple combinations:

Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Cured Italian Meats and Cheeses  
Condiment Options:
  • Yellow or deli mustard
  • Tomato pesto
  • Olive oil
  • Mustard dip
Meat options:
4-5 oz. thinly sliced cured Italian meats
  • prosciutto, Genoa Salami, capocollo, soppressata, pancetta, bresaola
Italian Cheese Options:
4-5 ounces cheese (1 Generous cup if shredded)
  • 5 Italian cheese mix, parmigiana, asiago, provolone, fontina, mozzarella, etc.
Follow preparations above.  Lightly brush pastry sheet with a condiment.   Top with overlapping slices of favorite Italian meat.  Sprinkle with shredded or sliced cheese.  Brush seams, starting with the short width end, tightly roll, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 45 minutes.  When ready, slice and place in a cookie sheet and in a 400° oven until browned and cheese is gooey, about 12 minutes.  Serve.

Optional, as shown in the photograph above, pinwheels can be sprinkled with additional shredded cheese(s) before baking.

Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Salami and Provolone Cheese
Served with Mustard Dip
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Ingredients:
Mustard dip:
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
Other Ingredients:
  • 1 defrosted puff pastry sheet
  • 4-5 ounces salami slices
  • 4-5 ounces Provolone cheese slices
Prepare mustard dip, mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

Place pastry on a lightly flowered surface. Use a rolling pin to increase length and width by about an inch each. Position pastry with the long sides horizontal to your body.

Add toppings, all within about a half inch of the top edge and sides for seaming.
Add toppings, all within about a half inch of the top edge and sides for seaming. Lightly spread top surface with mustard dip. Cut provolone slices in half. Place cut edges all along pastry’s periphery, fill the rest with cheese. Top with overlapping slices of salami.

Starting with the nearest side, tightly roll filled pastry. Moisten the top seam with water, finish rolling.

Cover roll with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or longer. When ready to bake, cut roll into 3/8-inch slices. Place on a cooking sheet in a 400°oven. Pinwheels will be ready in about 12 minutes. Serve with Mustard Dip.



Ham and Cheddar Cheese Pinwheels
Follow the recipe above using honey mustard, your favorite ham and cheddar cheese.

Pinwheels with Mushrooms, Dutch Cheese, Butter and Sherry
Ingredients:
1 rolled puff pastry sheet 
8 oz. mushrooms sliced
1 tablespoons butter
½ cup sherry
1 teaspoon tarragon
4 or 5 oz. Edam or Gouda cheese shredded or sliced with a potato peeler
Sautée mushroom with butter.  When mushrooms release their liquid, continue sautéing until liquid evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown.  Add sherry.  When evaporated, stir in tarragon and cheese.  Remove from burner. 

Seal edges and spread contents over puff pastry.  Spread, roll, seal edges, wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.  Cut into ½ inch pinwheels and bake until toasty, about 12 minutes at 400° and serve.




Pizza Pinwheels 
Spread prepared puff pastry sheets with a light coating of crushed tomatoes with puree.  Top with thin slices of fresh mozzarella.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and fresh torn basil.  Slice roll into ½ inch pinwheels and bake.

Optional. top pinwheels with shredded parmigiana and/or small pinches Italian sausage meat.        

    
   
Spinach Ricotta Pinwheels
With Parmigiana and Optional Additions
Ingredients:
  • 1 10 oz. box of frozen chopped spinach
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small minced garlic clove
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • ½ cup shredded parmigiana cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Optional additions:  diced ham pancetta, bacon, sun dried tomato, olive tapenade, etc.
Prepare one sheet of puff pastry as discussed above.

Defrost spinach in a strainer.  Tightly squeeze by hand to remove as much water as possible.  Coat with a drizzle of olive oil and set aside.

Sauté garlic in olive oil.  Combine with all ingredients.  Spread on prepared puff pastry and seal over lapping edges.  Wrap and refrigerate.  When ready to bake, slice into 3/8-inch pinwheels and bake at 400º. 

Serve immediately when pastry browns and cheese mixture bubbles.   


      
Prosciutto Gorgonzola and Fig Pinwheels
Brush prepared pastry sheet with fig jam or preserves.  Top with thin sliced prosciutto and crumbled gorgonzola.  Seal edges, roll, wrap and refrigerate.  When ready to bake, slice into ½ inch thick pinwheels and oven bake on a cookie sheet with parchment paper at 400° until pastry lightly browns.