Entertaining guests this weekend? Then may I suggest this super cute and impressive looking - but also quick and easy! - starter? It's great to have ready when your guests arrive and you're (or at least I am usually) still getting the main meal ready. Something about melted cheese makes for a big crowd pleaser - am I right?
What you'll need:
- An assortment of mini cheeses (or larger cheeses if you're feeling wild)
- Pre-made puff pastry of your choice (one sheet/block should be enough for 6-7 mini cheeses)
- Honey, jams, and/or cranberry sauce
- Optional: pecans and/or walnuts
- Optional: brown sugar
What to do:Preheat your oven according to the directions on your selected puff pastry.
Roll out the dough (particularly easy if you have pre-rolled pastry) using a rolling pin. You want to aim for a pretty thin pastry sheet here - about what you would want for a pie crust.
Once you have a flat sheet of puff pastry, place your mini cheese selections on top, leaving enough space around each cheese to wrap it up in pastry after you add the toppings. I used a sharp knife to cut the pastry dough around the cheeses.
Now comes the fun part - experimenting with toppings! You can really add whatever you have in terms of jams, honey, and nuts. As starter suggestions, here are the combinations I went with:
Strawberry jam on top of the baby brie:
Honey and pecans on the emmental cheese:
Home-made cranberry sauce on a soft cheese:
Once you've decorated your mini cheeses with your toppings of choice, wrap the puff pastry around the cheeses. Carefully pinch together the edges so that nothing leaks out with it's in the oven!
Place on a cookie sheet and bake according to the directions of your chosen puff pastry - about 15 minutes for mine. Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two before removing the cheese filled pastries from the tray onto a more aesthetically pleasing dish or tray!
I served mine with a small bowl of my homemade cranberry sauce and baby spinach garnish.
I also made a larger version of this - a giant wheel of brie and cranberry sauce - to hold back the hungry masses at Thanksgiving. It was gone in minutes...
Spinach and artichoke dip also makes for an excellent crowd-pleasing starter that you can prep ahead of time and have ready when your guests arrive (I made a large dish of this for Thanksgiving too!). I usually just look up a Spinach Artichoke Dip recipe and adapt it according to what I have on hand/my dislike of mayonnaise. For the basic idea, I've adapted both this recipe and this one in the past.
Happy pre-dinner party snacking!