There are two phrases that when placed together make me rrreeaaalllyy nervous: “It’s cool. There’s a method to my madness.”
No. There seems to be no method at all. Mostly I just think that your pot is about to boil over, you’re about to burn me and everyone in the room with that hot glue gun, please put that staple gun down, and your new parallel parking technique is totally not working out.
I say this with kindness… mostly because I’m talking to myself. If you ever hear me say “there’s a method to my madness” you should run, because the oven is probably about to explode. Wait… maybe there is a method.
Mostly there’s just a madness to my madness. Let’s be real.
Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker’s camera.
I assume that there’s going to be a method to your Thanksgiving meal-prep madness this week. It’s totally a balancing act. The turkey goes in at a certain hour. The basting is thorough and often. The mashed potatoes will have extra butter. Someone will burn the marshmallows on top of the sweet potato casserole (most likely my sister). It’s all so precarious.
These French Onion Pastry Puffs are my effort to help you get ahead. They’re little appetizer bites that can be made ahead of time and kept frozen until ready to bake.
They are like little flakey biscuits with French Onion Soup filling inside. Soooo delicious. When eaten in moderation they should not at all interfere with mashed potato and stuffing consumption.
Onions + salt and pepper + a big pinch of sugar + butter and olive oil + fresh thyme + beef broth (or beer or wine or whatevs).
The smell of onion cooking in butter and olive oil could be a perfume. You’d wear it, right?
Patience with these onions. Let them really cook down over medium heat. They shouldn’t burn, but they will wilt and yield to the heat, salt, sugar, and broth.
I insist on using all-butter puff pastry. It’s more expensive, but you know where your fats are coming from and the flavor is supreme.
I also cut out my little puffs as circles using a 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter. This comes at a cost. Some puff pastry scraps were left over and I was unable to reuse them.
If you’d like to make this recipe as rectangles, you’ll get more out of the batch. Use these instructions found with the Bite-Sized Baked Brie Bites.
Let’s layer these flavors.
First, egg wash. This will help the pastry stick to itself.
Next, a tiny smear of whole grain mustard.
Up next, caramelized onions!
Gruyère goes on top of the caramelized onions!
Just a small pinch of each flavor. No need to overstuff.
The egg wash will act like glue in sticking the two pieces of puff together, but these little suckers will fluff up like you wouldn’t believe! We need some extra sealing security. A good crimp with a fork will do the trick!
Now the question is, how much convincing do you need? We’ve combined buttery puff pastry with caramelized onions and sharp Gruyère cheese. Do I need to twist your arm any further?
These bites can be assembled, placed on a parchment lined baking sheet, and frozen. Once they’re chilled through you can remove them from the baking sheet and place them in an airtight bag. Bake from frozen or thaw in the refrigerator and bake from chilled. You can also bake these off, and freeze them once baked. They reheat very easily in the oven. Whatever works for you and your holiday madness!
French Onion Pastry Puffs
makes 12 puffs
For the Onions:
2 medium yellow onions, peeled cut in half and sliced into 1/4-inch thick semi-circles
3 tablespoon unsalted butter,softened, plus more for buttering the bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 scant teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
pinch of granulated sugar
3 tablespoons beef broth, beer, or white wine to deglaze the pan
For the Puffs:
2 9×9-inch sheets all-butter puff pastry, thawed but still cold
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/3 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese
Place a medium, heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil and stir until butter is melted. Add the sliced onions all at once. Stir to coat the onions in the fat. Allow onions to cook, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes. Add salt, thyme, pepper, and sugar, and stir. Place lid on the pan and allow to onions to cook for about 4 minutes at a time. Lower the heat if the onions are browning too quickly. Remove the lid to stir the onions every so often. The onions will begin to brown, break down, and resemble an onion jam.
When onions are entirely browned and completely soft, add your liquid (beef broth, beer, wine, or water) to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any burned bits off the bottom of the pan as the liquid evaporates. This takes about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and allow to rest while you assemble the ingredients for the pastry puffs.
Unfold the thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry about 1/2-inch on all sides. Use a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut circles out of the pastry. Two sheets should produce at least 24 pastry rounds.
Brush each round lightly with beaten egg. Top 12 of the pastry rounds with a tiny smear (about 1/8 teaspoon) mustard. Top the mustard with about 1 teaspoon caramelized onions and 1/2 teaspoon grated cheese.
Carefully place the remaining pastry puffs atop the onion and cheese mixture, brushed egg side down. Pinch ends closed with your fingers, them use the tines of a fork to more securely press the pastry together.
(These bites can be assembled, placed on a parchment lined baking sheet, and frozen. Once they’re chilled through you can remove them from the baking sheet and place them in an airtight bag. Bake from frozen or thaw in the refrigerator and bake from chilled. If baking from frozen, add 3 to 5 minutes to the baking time. You can also bake these off, and freeze them once baked. They reheat very easily in the oven.)
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place pastry on the prepared sheet and brush lightly with egg. Prick the top of each pastry with the tines of a fork for ventilation. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. These are lovely served warm, but are also delicious at room temperature.