Mary Anne here. Living in the Northeast, this wickedly wild winter left me wanting to hibernate. And while our spring has certainly had its fair share of dark and dreary days, we’ve also enjoyed intermittent bouts of sunshine and warmth. I am SO ready for real spring weather that I’m determined to dust off the china and salute the balmier days (that are hopefully) ahead. And nothing heralds a boisterous “howdy” to warm weather like an al fresco cocktail party, complete with buckets of chilled wine and a bounty of sweet and savory nibbles. Who needs dinner?
These little cocktail bites fit the bill perfectly when it comes to tickling one’s palate. The pastries are no bigger than a half dollar, crisp on the outside while light and airy on the inside. The homemade fig jam is just sweet enough to complement the bite of the cheese while the glazed walnuts – sprinkled with a hefty dash of cayenne – add their own snappy, sugar-coated crunch. And BTW, I realized as I assembled these treats, one could easily skip the pastry prep and slather crackers with the topping – who would know!
Wishing all moms and moms-to-be a Mother’s Day break from the kitchen with breakfast, lunch, dinner AND a few cocktail bites served by your own army of pint-size personal chefs! And for all you kiddos looking for inspiration, check out our Mother’s Day Menu or Afternoon Tea, both chock full of mom-pleasing treats.
Puff Pastry Bites with Stilton, Fig Jam, and Candy-Glazed Walnuts
Makes approximately 72 Bites
Note: The un-garnished pastries can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Re-crisp, if desired, in a 300-degree oven for about 3 to 5 minutes.
The fig jam and candy-glazed walnuts can also be prepared ahead of time. Seal each component in an airtight container; the jam in the fridge, the nuts at room temp.
1 package of frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed – $2.29
4 oz. dried Mission figs, diced (tough stems removed)– $2.29
¼ Teaspoon dried rosemary or thyme – stock
½ cup water
1 Tablespoon olive oil – stock
1 ½ Teaspoons Balsamic vinegar – stock
½ Teaspoon minced garlic – stock
1/3 lb. Stilton cheese, at room temperature – $5.03
1/3 cup chopped walnuts – stock
½ Tablespoon butter – stock
½ Tablespoon light brown sugar – stock
pinch or dash of ground cayenne – stock
1 Teaspoon water
1 egg yolk – stock
1 Teaspoon water or light cream
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $9.61
Total Per Bite: $0.13
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line your largest cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. On a lightly floured surface, unfold the pastry sheets and, using a floured rolling pin, gently flatten the pastry seams.
3. Using a 1½-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out about 36 circles from each sheet. Transfer to the prepared cookie sheet.
4. Whisk the egg yolk with the water (or cream) and lightly brush the tops of each pastry.
5. Place the pastries on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the pastry is puffed and the tops are golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
6. Meanwhile, prepare the fig jam and candy-glazed walnuts. In a small saucepan, combine the figs, water, and rosemary. Bring to a boil, reduce the flame and allow to simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced to about 1 Tablespoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the garlic, oil and vinegar. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.
7. Transfer the fig mixture to a small mixing bowl and using a hand mixer, beat until the figs are a jam-like consistency. Set aside.
8. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar, mixing well. Add the chopped walnuts and cayenne to taste. Sauté over medium low flame, adding 1 Teaspoon water to encourage the glaze. Stirring frequently, continue sautéing for about 10 minutes until the nuts are fragrant. Transfer to a piece of waxed paper.
9. To assemble: Using a demitasse spoon or small measuring spoon, spread the fig jam over the tops of the pastries. Add a piece of Stilton and garnish with the candy-glazed walnuts.