Paillettes (Puff-Pastry Cheese Straws)

October 17, 2012

NEED A COCKTAIL APPETIZER that you can make in advance and then freeze? I can highly recommend Pailletes. Everybody loves these puff pastry cheese straws. They are perfectly-crisp, beautifully-seasoned, and light as a feather. They are also a cinch to make:

Today, I made 30 paillettes from 2 sheets of store-bought puff pastry. But next week,  I’m going to make — are you ready for you this — 180 of them. The occasion is our annual Halloween Masquerade Party.   Mercifully a caterer will provide most of the appetizers. I have only to make the paillettes. And the  crudité platter. And this great hummus.

Paillettes (Puff-pastry Cheese Straws)
Ingredients for about 30 appetizers
1 package (2-sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold
1/2 cup finely grated Asiago
1 cup finely grated Swiss or Gruyere
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Grinds of black pepper

Optional spices and seasonings: poppy seeds or sesame seeds; paprika, fresh or dried thyme, cayenne pepper, or whatever the heck appeals to you

First, finely-grate the cheeses. To do this by machine, cut the wedges into 2-inch pieces. Then pulverize them in the food processor. Use the metal blade, not the “shredding” disc. Why? Because shredded cheese isn’t suitable for paillettes.

I should probably warn you that your processor will make a thunderous racket as it finely-grates a hard cheese like Asiago or Parmesan.  So brace yourself.

Next, line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or Silpat.

Now dump  one 1/4 cup of Asiago and one 1/2 cup of Swiss onto your work surface. Spread the cheeses with your hand into an area which is roughly 10×10-inches — the same size as the puff pastry sheet.

My work surface is a marble board that I purchased at a kitchen-supply store. I’d be lost without it.

Sprinkle on the salt, several grinds of black pepper, and whatever else you are using. Reserve the seeds, if you are using them, for the next step.

And incidentally, you can be very creative with toppings.  Love red pepper flakes? Add ‘em. Enjoy rosemary? Go for it.  When it comes to paillettes, the world is your oyster.

Do not top your paillettes with oysters.

Unfold the sheet of puff pastry, and lay it over the cheese mixture. Then use a rolling pin to smooth out the creases in the dough. As you roll, the grated cheese will become embedded in the pastry’s underside. Work quickly — if the dough softens up, it will stick to your rolling pin.

If you are using poppy seeds or sesame seeds, sprinkle them over the top of the dough. Then lightly press them down with your rolling pin.

Using a pastry-cutter, slice the dough into strips which are approximately one 1/2-inch wide.

As you can see, I mangled my dough while pressing out creases. The dough had warmed too much while I busied myself taking pictures.

Note: Don’t take pictures while making paillettes.

My subsequent batch, made with paprika and sesame seeds, turned out much nicer.

No pictures for this next step, because it is a two-handed operation: Holding a strip by each end, twist it until it becomes fairly skinny.

Then lay the twists about 1 inch apart on your parchment- (or Silpat-) lined baking sheet.  Gently press the ends with your finger, as pictured.

Transfer the twists to your refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Or, cover them with plastic wrap, and freeze for 4 hours or overnight. Then transfer to plastic bags. Unbaked twists will keep for one month in the freezer.

When you are ready to bake,  preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. *

Bake on the center rack of the preheated oven until the straws are puffed and lightly colored — about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

I hope you’ll make these cocktail appetizers. They are delicious to eat, plus you can display them in all kinds of interesting ways.  In the photo above, I arranged several in an antique biscuit-barrel, set upon the games table in my entrance hall.  You might like to arrange your paillettes in water tumblers or clear glass vases.

Need a copy-and-paste version of the above recipe? Here goes:

Paillettes (Puff-pastry Cheese Straws)
Ingredients for about 30 appetizers
1 package (2-sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold
1/2 cup finely grated Asiago
1 cup finely grated Swiss or Gruyere
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Grinds of black pepper

Optional additions: poppy seeds or sesame seeds; paprika;  fresh or dried thyme; cayenne pepper, and whatever else appeals to you.

Special equipment: 2 parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheets; a pastry-cutter (a/k/a “pizza wheel”)

1. Scatter half the grated Asiago and Swiss cheese in a 10×10-inch area on your work surface. Sprinkle on the salt, the pepper, and any other ingredients you wish (save the poppy or sesame seeds for the next step).

2. Lay one sheet of puff pastry over the cheese mixture. Smooth out the creases in the pastry with a rolling pin, gently pressing down so that cheese will become embedded in the dough. Sprinkle top of dough with poppy or sesame seeds, if you are using them, and then gently push them into dough with your rolling pin.

3. Using a pastry-cutter, cut the dough into 1/2-inch strips. Holding a strip at each end, turn it round and round to form a twist. Lay the twisted strip on the parchment- (or Silpat-) lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other twists, arranging them about one inch apart on the baking sheet.

4. Refrigerate the paillettes for at least 30 minutes.

Make ahead note: You can freeze the straws for up to one month at this month. Cover with plastic wrap for 4 hours or overnight. When solidly frozen, transfer to plastic bags.

5. Set the oven rack at the center position; preheat oven to 375 degrees F.* Bake until the twists are puffed and slightly golden — 15 to 20  minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

*I originally baked my paillettes at 400 degrees F. for 10 to 15 minutes. But now I find they bake more evenly at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Do you love paillettes, too? You can let me know by leaving a comment. As always, I love hearing from you.

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Related Posts:
Angelic Zucchini Fritters
Autumn Spice Cookies
Cranberry-Orange Bars

Comments

  1. Deb says:

    Fantastic! I appreciate the copy-and-paste version but will be keeping your illustrated one as the visual effects are so great. And it reminds me that each stick doesn’t have to be “perfect.”

    I can’t wait to make these. I’d readily admit that I don’t have the dexterity to work and take pictures at the same time – just another one of your talents!!

    By the way, you ARE writing a book about all this, aren’t you? I’d buy it!

  2. Donna B. says:

    Kevin, you’ll be hounded about writing a recipe book till the end of time! Gotta hurry up with it! hee hee~

    These are fantastic! I usually want to host little get togethers with friends, but I don’t have a huge appetizer repertoire. [Sliced meat and cheeses, spinach cream cheese puffs, and pepperoni bread are my specialities. >D]
    I LOVE the idea of the Paprika and Sesame seeds! Dip that into a sweet/spicy dip… mmm!

  3. Anne B says:

    They are SO good. Good luck with your 180!

  4. Deb – Why, thank you! Yes, book is progressing…slowly.

    Donna B. – Nice thing about these appetizers is that as you make them, lots of other ingredients come to mind. My next batch might include minced, sauteed garlic. Can taste it now…

    Anne B – I have no doubt that after making 180 of these twists, I’ll understand exactly why caterers charge $$$ for their services. Yoinks!

  5. SharonW says:

    Kevin,
    I’ve made these in past ears large Thanksgiving gatherings, and you’re right, they went like wildfire. Appreciate your photos and accurate advice on working quickly because the dough becomes too sticky when it warms, and when to add seed garnishes so they don’t fall off
    Made me want to host a cocktail party!

  6. Melinda says:

    Is this pie dough or phyllo dough? Puff would indicate the latter but the pictures resemble pie dough.

    Thanks Kevin – I am planning on making these for our Halloween extravaganza ;)

  7. Chris MacDonald says:

    Thanks Kevin. Can’t wait to try these. Question: When baking the straws after freezing,do you thaw the straws before putting them in the oven?

  8. Hi Melinda – It’s puff pastry dough, which you can buy in a box from most supermarkets (in the freezer section). You can also make the dough yourself, but I can tell from experience that puff pastry is a pain the neck to make!

    Hi Chris MacDonald – I set the frozen straws on a baking sheet and then place them directly in the preheated oven. They are so thin that advance thawing isn’t necessary.

  9. Mary Dito says:

    Please consider those who are gluten free or Celiac who can’t tolerate flour. Thanks!

  10. Beverly, zone 6 eastern PA says:

    What a great idea! Thanks so much for your detailed photos. I think I will take these to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. No one will be expecting them.

    Guess I’ll have to find another way to use up my oysters, though.

    Are those your relatives in that photo by the antique biscuit barrel? Or perhaps earlier residents of your lovely home?

  11. Hi Mary Dito – Lots of GF recipes on this site, and more to come, I promise. My partner is gluten-intolerant.

    Beverly – Yes, those my are relatives on the games table in the entrance hall. Photo on the right is Irene Spencer- DuVaul, my great grandmother, during late 19th century. Photo on the left shows Irene holding my grandmother, Margaret DuVaul, in 1916.

  12. You have a wickedly delightful sense of humor. Eager to try this!

  13. Nancy Elson says:

    Kevin, I love you! This time because you provided the perfect recipe for all the upcoming holiday potlucks and open house invites–your Paillettes (Puff Pastry Cheese Straws) are going to be my Go-To saving grace this year! And since I live in New Mexico I’ll be flavoring them with green chile seasoning! You rock, my friend!

  14. Mary Brotherton – If you do try these paillettes, let me know how they turn out for you, okay?

    Nancy Elson – Ooo, green chile seasoning is THE perfect flavoring for these paillettes. Enjoy them!

  15. Nancy Bagshaw-Reasoner says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I am a new fan of your site and you! Will definitely make these for my next party. I intend to freeze a lot of them to have on hand for the holidays. I assume that you let them thaw before baking at 400?

    Thanks,
    Nancy

  16. Great to meet you, Nancy. You can let the the twists thaw slightly before baking them. They need to be quite cold when they go into the preheated oven.

  17. Anne-Marie says:

    These look delicious, I will definitely be making them!!! And you are so funny “Don’t take pictures while making paillettes.”

    Also, I totally loved walking through your property with Lily! Your grounds are lovely … such a beautiful place to be. And the Woodland garden with the rock lined pond looks like a wonderful place to be for relaxing. Love your blogs!

  18. Oriane says:

    Bonjour Kevin,

    This is going to be perfect for my upcoming wine tasting soirée. I love Vieille Ferme wines too :)
    I like the idea of displaying the paillettes using antiques/collectables/pottery/glass, etc.
    Edible art in visual art, how elegant!

    Your Halloween Extravaganza is going to be a huge success, so will the 180 paillettes!!!!

  19. Just made these last night for a potluck–they were the hit of the evening. Thanks!

  20. OR SSS says:

    Mine did not look like yours whatsoever- blobby and burned in spots.
    But I experimented with flavors, all of which were tasty.
    I suppose if one makes upwards of 200 annually, they’re a bit more uniform/

  21. OR SSS – I don’t know what “blobby” means, but I know what burned is. Perhaps your oven runs a little hotter than mine. Try baking the twists at 375 for 20-25 minutes. This lower temperature should mitigate burning, and, hopefully, any blobby-ness.

  22. Kavaux says:

    Do you ever freese them after baking for storing till an event?

  23. Hi Kavaux – Yes, I often form the twists and then freeze them unbaked. No need to let them thaw before baking.

  24. Joan says:

    Made these yesterday for Thanksgiving, cooked a few “just to be sure” samples for us to try, and I am now guarding the freezer from the rest of the family. I made 4 different flavors, all were good! What an easy recipe, with lots of room for innovation.

  25. Kavaux says:

    So does anyone Bake them and the store them
    Or will they get soggy? I want to make them
    ahead.

  26. Joan – Good for you! And you are right — it’s fun to experiment with all the different flavoring-possibilities.

  27. I made these, but made my own dough and refrigerated it until I was ready to put it all together. Here is recipe: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/fast-and-easy-puff-pastry-recipe

    They were a huge hit! Friends have already asked when I was going to make them again. Thanks for the awesome idea!

  28. HortBirder says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Love your blog! A Costumer at work turned me onto your blog and said I’d love it. She was right!

    Can’t wait to try this recipe out. It looks super-delish. And love your sense of humor. I was LOL in a couple of places.

  29. I made these using smoked cheddar, Parm, rosemary, and black pepper. They tasted great, BUT they stuck terribly to the parchment paper – some of them could not be served because I couldn’t get the paper off. I followed the directions exactly and baked them for 15 minutes. Any idea what happened. . . ?

  30. Heather says:

    Hi Kevin, thanks so much for this recipe. I made some this week and they turned out fabulously! I’ve always been a little intimidated by puff pastry, but when you said in the directions that they were a “cinch” to make, that gave me the confidence to try them out.
    My partner loved them also and said to say, “Thanks, Kevin!”

  31. Shannon says:

    Hey Kevin,

    Can I lightly grease or grease and flour the cookie sheet instead of using parchment paper?

  32. Hi Shannon – You could spray your baking sheet with non-stick vegetable spray.

  33. marla says:

    I made some puff pastry appetizers and I am freezing them to use over the holidays. Do I need to thaw them before baking or can I bake them from frozen Any help would be great. Thanks!

  34. Judy McCarrel says:

    Thanks for the great recipes! Looking forward to what you have in mind
    for us in 2014!

  35. codi ruth says:

    this is wonderful! The world is full of sweets that are not too hard to make, It is so awesome to see a savory appetizer that sounds swanky and actually looks easy enough for a relative noobie like me to make! (plus, I just got a new food processor for Christmas that I’m dying to try out!) Thank you, and love this site— Subscribed to it for a few months now. Looking forward to Spring and trying to become more involved in my garden this year, and I just know that with your help i can do it! :)

  36. Chit says:

    Hi Kevin…is there a way to do this recipe not using frozen puff pastry and instead to do it from scratch?

    Thanks

  37. Hi Chit – You can use homemade puff pastry. I don’t make the stuff from scratch any more, because…it is a pain in the neck to make! But it is absolutely delicious.

  38. Abe Yonder says:

    I enjoy your posts very much; nearly as much as I love gardening and cooking, but the main reason I am sending you this reply is on account of because there’s an angel out there that needs a set of wings. –Keep up the good work–Abe

Trackbacks

  1. [...] friends’ open houses. They take a few minutes to make and are a big hit. The recipe is from Kevin Lee Jacobs–he has wonderful photos, too.  I use Dufour frozen pastry [...]

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