I don’t know why, but when my friends move, they call me to unload their refrigerator and pantrys. OK, maybe I do know. I end up with the greatest – and sometimes strangest – amalgamation of things that they don’t want, can’t use or don’t want to deal with. Recently, a friend move to the East Coast and when I stopped by to say goodbye, she handed me a large garbage bag filled with food. “Here. I’m sure you can find something to do with all of this.” In a bit of dazed confusion, I lugged it to my car like Santa with a load of gifts and hauled it up the stairs to my apartment. And like Chirstmas, I was quite surprised at what I found. Good stuff! Bacon, chicken breasts, good cheddar, ice cream sandwiches and joy of joys … really good, all butter puff pastry. The fancy stuff. Hot damn. Though I still don’t know what she was thinking buying those crap crap crap pre-frozen chicken cordon bleu roll things. Good god. Chicken nuggets for adults. Horrific.
Puff pastry is one of those things that I love to make but only if the conditions are just so. All that rolling and folding and layering is unbelievably theraputic, sometimes just the mind numbing project-y kind of thing I need. But usually my kitchen is way too warm so I haven’t done it in some time. It’s just too damn easy to buy the stuff.
Pepperidge Farm makes an acceptable puff pastry but know that it isn’t 100% all butter. For the good stuff, you have to go to a specialty store, like Whole Foods, and pony up 12 bucks for the Dufour. It’s lovely and 100% all butter. Is it worth it? At three times the price, it’s hard for me to say since I’m not clear on what exactly PF uses in theirs. I don’t have a box handy and god forbid the website should tell me. That’s not a good sign. The purist in me, says hell yes buy the Dufour. The realist in me balks. You’ll have to decide for yourself. Let’s just say I was quite happy to find 2 packs in my bag ‘o treats.
I decided to make some turnovers with the stuff. I had a bunch of raspberries, some cream cheese and an obnoxious amount of chocolate leftover from a consulting job. There was my filling – creamy, tart, rich. Perfect.
Once you get everything together – and that all comes together quickly – you can bang these out super fast. Just make sure your puff has defrosted in the fridge overnight. You want this dough cold, cold, cold at all times while working with it. The best part is once assembled they freeze, unbaked, beautifully. Freeze them solid on a sheet pan then transfer to a Ziploc bag when frozen. I often write the baking temperature and time right on the bag so I don’t have to look it up. Just throw them onto a prepared pan right from the freezer and bake – you may need to add a few minutes to the overall baking time. Presto.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: 3 STARS. This is a good, quick and easy project with infinite varieties. Fill them with anything – all fruit, all chocolate, just the cream cheese, or all of the above. People love these damn things, especially when warm right out of the oven. They don’t have to know how easy it is, right? And the whole freeze ’em ahead of time? Genius! You can have these hot and on the table in no time and everyone will think you are super brilliant. Dang that’s worth at least another star right there. Is it super relaxing? Not particularly but it would be elevated to 5 stars if you make the puff pastry yourself. And that’ll happen, right?
UPDATE 10/16/10: So I was at Trader Joe’s today and noticed they sell and all butter puff pastry – 2 square sheets for $3.99. Not bad! I haven’t used it but a quick flip of the box revealed simple ingredients – butter, flour, water and maybe one or two other things that I could absolutely pronounce. Seems promising.
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE TURNOVERS
Makes 16 small turnovers
You can fill these with anything you like – vary the fruit, the chocolate, add some nuts, add some spices to the cream cheese mixture. It’s all very flexible. You can also freeze these, unbaked, and bake as needed right from the freezer.
2 frozen puff pastry sheets (a 17 ¼ ounce package), thawed in the refrigerator
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 package)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
16 small squares bittersweet chocolate (or about 1/4 cup chocolate chips)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper or Silpat mats.
- In a small bowl, stir together cream cheese and 3 Tablespoons sugar. Set aside until needed.
- Carefully unfold the chilled pastry and on a lightly floured surface, roll lightly to smooth out the seams.
- Cut the puff pastry sheet lengthwise into two long pieces then cut each piece into four squares for a total of eight squares per pastry sheet.
- Brush a little of the beaten egg on two sides of each pastry square.
- Spread a Tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on each pastry square, leaving a ¾” border all sides.
- Place two raspberries and a square of chocolate on top of the cream cheese mixture.
- Fold pastry into a triangle to enclose filling and crimp edges with a fork.
- Cut a small steam vent in tops of turnovers.
- Brush tops with more egg and sprinkle with remaining Tablespoon of sugar.
- Arrange on prepared sheet pans and bake in lower third of oven until puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes.