Have you noticed how versatile puff pastry is? Light, airy, flaky, buttery and delicious, puff pastry is not only a regular at parties but they can also be dressed up in countless ways to make all kinds of savoury and sweet starters, mains and desserts. Can you think of anything else that comes close in terms of versatility? And appetizers (or hors d’oeuvres, if you want to get all fancy and Frenchy) in particular are a great vehicle to showcase this incredible potential. But unfortunately making classic puff pastry at home can be a classic pain in the posterior. This is probably why homemade puff pastry isn’t all that regular at parties and gatherings and whatnots even though puff pastry is. But fear not! With this recipe, making quick and easy rough puff pastry that’s just as good as the classic version need not be intimidating anymore and will take no more than 30-40 minutes of your precious time.
In a sequel to my puff pastry based appetizer idea for holiday gatherings from earlier this week, I’ve got another appetizing idea for your Christmas party that is easy to assemble, can be made ahead of time and is also very big on flavours! Made with simple and fresh ingredients, these Cherry Tomato, Basil, Goat Cheese Mini Tarts are not only pretty to look at but they are also guaranteed to be a hit at your party!
Like my Pear, Prosciutto, Goat cheese & Honey Appetizers, these bite-sized tarts also use my Rough Puff Pastry as a base. However rather than cutting out the base for these tarts, I prepared these a little differently. I rolled the puff pastry sheet tightly and then once it was set, I cut the roll into small discs and then flattened them out into small circles.
These do have a little prep work involved in terms of halving the cherry tomatoes and preparing the puff pastry discs. You can of course just cut out discs directly from the puff pastry sheet instead if you so prefer. I however like this method because this way there is minimal wastage of the pastry and most importantly this method seems to add another element of flakiness to the pastry, which I absolutely love!
You can easily double or triple this recipe. I made these tarts with only about 100g/3.5oz of rough puff pastry dough, rolled out to a 10 inch x 5 inch square.
If you are using pre-rolled puff pastry (like Pepperidge, Edmonds or Pampas), you may want to cut the pastry into sheets that have a width of about 6 inches and any length you prefer (the length determines the number of tarts you will make).
Note about the Puff Pastry bases –
You can absolutely use a small rolling pin to roll out the pastry. Or do what I did, which is to flatten them by pressing down on the middle with your fingers and then slowly work your way outwards until you end up with something resembling a concave shell like shown below.
Cherry Tomato, Basil, Goat Cheese Appetizers
- The night before, brush the sheet of pastry with melted butter.
- Roll up the pastry sheet along its long edge until you have a tight roll that is an inch in diameter.
- Wrap the pastry roll tightly in plastic wrap.
- Allow this to rest in the fridge overnight so that everything sticks together properly.
- Remove from the fridge and place it on a floured work surface.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Cut off the edges of the roll and slice 1 cm or 3/8 inch discs (from 10 inches you should get 20-22 discs)
- With a small roller, roll out the discs till they are about 2 inches in diameter.
- OR use your fingers and flatten the disc, starting from the middle and going out, until you have a concave disc that is thinner in the middle and thicker at the edges and is about 2 inches in diameter.
- Place these discs on a parchment paper.
- Wash and dry the tomatoes and halve them.
- Place each half on the pastry discs and sprinkle a pinch of sugar on the tomatoes. If you are using smaller grape tomatoes, you may have to place 2 -3 halves of tomatoes in the middle.
- Bake the pastry and tomatoes in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
- In the last 5 minutes, you can sprinkle some goat cheese on top (this is optional, you can add the goat cheese as soon as they come out of the oven as well)
- Just before serving, drizzle a little bit of the Balsamic glaze on each tart and top it with the basil.
The flavour combinations in these bite-sized tarts are truly incredible. The spiral base gives the pastry an extra crunchiness in addition to the flakiness. The cherry tomatoes are made sweeter by roasting them which is complemented well by the saltiness and creaminess of goat cheese. The basil adds a touch of spicy and freshness and then the thick luscious vinegary sweetness of balsamic glaze ties everything together and enhances all the flavour profiles. Plus they look so Christmassy, there’s no way you can resist them! These are best eaten warm or at room temperature.
Have you checked out my Pear, Prosciutto, Goat cheese and Honey tarts from earlier this week? These two on a platter together at your next party/gathering would get things off to a fantastic start! And they can easily be assembled ahead of time and baked just before the party starts. Now don’t you get too jealous when I take these both to the party at Foodie Fiesta and Foodie Fridays tomorrow! I can’t wait to share these with the awesome bloggers there and hope you can go on over and check out all the other amazing recipes there too!