If you're looking for quick but elegant dessert or hors d'oeuvres, make puff pastry Christmas trees. You can thaw purchased puff pastry and create miniature stacked trees. Just cut star shapes out of the pastry and place them on top of vanilla pudding or lemon curd for a fast dessert. For an hors d'oeuvres that serves a crowd, make a twisted puff pastry Christmas tree. Spread pesto (for a savory version) or Nutella (for a sweet version) in between puff pastry. Cut the pastry into one large Christmas tree and twist the dough to create individual branches. You'll be surprised at how simple it is to create magical holiday treats with puff pastry.
Stacked Puff Pastry Christmas Tree
1 package (17.3 ounces or 490 g) of puff pastry, thawed
1/3 cup (76 g) of vanilla pudding or lemon curd
1/3 cup (113 g) of honey, warmed or green decorating sugar
8 raspberries or maraschino cherry halves
Twisted Puff Pastry Christmas Tree
1 package (17.3 ounces or 490 g) of puff pastry, thawed
4 to 5 tablespoons of pesto (for a savory version) or Nutella (for a sweet version)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Part 1 of 2:Making a Stacked Puff Pastry Christmas Tree
1Thaw the puff pastry and preheat the oven. Turn on the oven to 400 degrees F (204 C). Thaw 1 full package (17.3 ounces or 490 g) of puff pastry according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Ensure that the pastry is soft enough to handle, but not too warm. If the pastry is warm, it will be sticky and difficult to work with.
2Roll out the puff pastry and cut out stars. Sprinkle a little flour onto your work space and set one thawed piece of puff pastry on it. Unfold the pastry and use a rolling pin to roll the pastry into a large square. Get out three star cookie cutters in different sizes. Cut four star shapes using each cookie cutter. Repeat this with the other sheet of puff pastry.
Keep in mind that to assemble the trees you'll have four large puff pastry stars, four medium-sized stars for the middles, and four smaller stars for the tops.
3Bake the puff pastry stars. Place the puff pastry stars on two baking sheets. Bake them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. The stars should turn golden brown and puff up once they've finished baking. Carefully take the puff pastry stars out of the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
You should have a total of 24 stars in three different sizes. This will give you eight finished puff pastry Christmas trees.
4Assemble the trees using pudding or curd. Place eight large stars on your work space. Top each of them with 1 teaspoon of vanilla pudding or lemon curd. Set a medium star on top of the larger one so it sticks. Place another teaspoon of the filling on the middle star and top it with a small star. Do this for each of the trees.
You'll need a total of 1/3 cup (76 g) of vanilla pudding or lemon curd.
Try to alternate the points of the stars as you stack them. This will make them look like tree branches.
5Decorate the puff pastry Christmas trees. Warm up 1/3 cup (113 g) of honey in the microwave until it's thin. Drizzle each of the trees with some of the honey. Then you can sprinkle green decorating sugar over the trees. Top each of the Christmas trees with a fresh raspberry or maraschino cherry half.
The honey will help the sugar stick. If you don't like the texture of the decorating sugar, you can omit it.
Part 2 of 2:Making a Twisted Puff Pastry Christmas Tree
1Thaw the puff pastry and preheat the oven. Turn on the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Let 1 package (17.3 ounces or 490 g) of puff pastry defrost according to the manufacturer's instructions. Lay a sheet of parchment paper onto a baking sheet and set it aside.
Ensure that the puff pastry is still cold when you start to work with it. If you let it get too warm, it will be sticky and hard to handle.
2Roll the puff pastry. Sprinkle your work surface with a little bit of flour. Use a rolling pin to evenly roll one sheet of thawed puff pastry. You should roll it into an 11x13-inch (28x33 cm) rectangle. Lay this one on the parchment lined baking sheet and roll out the other pastry sheet to the same size.
Remember to turn the pastry as you're rolling it out. This will help keep it from sticking to your work surface.
3Spread the pesto or Nutella onto the pastry. Spread 4 to 5 tablespoons of pesto or Nutella onto the puff pastry sheet that's on the parchment. Try to spread it in a large triangular shape that will be the size of the Christmas tree.
Be creative with the fillings. You could also scatter cheese, spread lemon curd, or sprinkle chopped nuts over the pastry.
4Cover the pastry and cut out the Christmas tree. Carefully lay the second sheet of puff pastry over the pastry with the filling. The rectangles should line up. Take a sharp knife and cut out a triangular Christmas tree. You can discard the excess pastry or cook the scraps to snack on.
Remember to cut out a trunk shape at the bottom of the tree.
5Cut and twirl the branches. Use your knife to cut individual branches on both sides of the tree. Leave about an inch (2.5 cm) of pastry running through the center of the tree. Use your hands to gather each branch and gently twist it onto itself a few times. Do this for all the branches of the tree.
Try to twirl the branches in the same direction so the tree looks uniform.
6Brush the tree with an egg wash and bake it. Beat one egg in a small bowl. Dip a pastry brush into the beaten egg and gently brush it all over the puff pastry Christmas tree. Bake the tree in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The tree should puff up and turn golden brown.
Let the puff pastry Christmas tree cool for a few minutes before you transfer it to a serving tray.