We’re back just in time for the new year, well a little after. Unfortunately, we’ve had a small hiatus due to an unforeseen computer repair. The battery wasn’t holding a charge which lead to some performance issues. In frustration, I sent it away to repair gods. Turns out a bad wire takes about a month to replace, setting us way back. But we have the computer back and we are bringing you an awesome appetizer! We had originally planned these to be posted before the new year, so you’d be able to have them for your New Year’s Eve party. We’re still posting them because well, these little guys are the perfect little cheesy bite.
We came up with the idea over texts on our way to work. We originally were just thinking of a cheesy mushroom puff pastry thing, we just knew we wanted mushrooms and cheese. Of course, I choose chestnuts, while Nicole chose to use brie. But don’t be put off by the seemingly daunting task of shelling chestnuts, it’s really not all that difficult if you know the tricks. Freshly roasted chestnuts are great and the texture is like none other.
Chestnuts have two parts; the shell and then a papery fuzzy inner layer. If you’ve never held a fresh chestnut before, they can be quite surprising. Their shells are not quite as hard as other nuts like almonds, but a little softer. With that in mind, the easiest way I’ve found to get into the center was to score the shell with a knife. When I was first told this, I thought the person was crazy because I assumed that chestnuts had a thick and hard outer shell and there was no way a knife could pierce it. I figure this task would take forever and would require extreme force resulting in damage to my knifes or personal harm. Of course, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the shells were a lot softer and my task of shelling a sheet tray worth didn’t take all that long. Next, you bake them off a bit. This causes their shells to peel back at the incision to expose the nut allowing you to peel away the inedible parts with ease. Also, it’s the easiest to do it while they are still warm. Do not let them cool before getting to them! That inner layer is a pain to get off once they’ve cooled down.
The filling is very tasty and the addition of chicken stock and mushroom adds depth to the sweet chestnuts and shallots. The creamy brie ties it all together and balances the earth flavors. Word of advice, make more than you think you’ll need, people are going to be enjoying these. Making these puff pastry shapes may look tricky but they show skill with little effort. All you need is two different sized cutters, dough and a little bit of egg wash. Cut some circles out of puff pastry, then cut the centers out of half of them. Glue them together with the egg wash and fill. See not so bad. Alternatively, you can also cut the dough into squares and line the cups of a muffin tin with the squares. It’s a good move if you don’t have circle cutters that still has impressive results.
Once you’ve gotten the puffs all baked off and the filling all made, just fill the shells top with brie and bake just before your guests arrive. They’ll be in awe at your culinary prowess and be singing your praises all night.
We had a blast making these. Nicole has only had roasted chestnuts before, which are great but I also like them cooked with some sauce situation. It really makes their texture extra creamy.
Mushroom and Brie Puffs`Print This
- 2 Tbs Butter
- 8 oz Mushrooms, Small Diced
- 1 Shallot, Minced
- 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
- 1 tsp Thyme
- 5 Chestnuts, Chopped*
- 6 oz Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- 1 tsp Parsley
- 1 tsp Chives
- 1 Squeeze Lemon
- 2 Packages Puff Pastry (4 Sheets)
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1/4 lbs Brie, rind removed and cubed.
For the Filling:
In a saute pan; sweat shallots, garlic, and mushrooms in butter until onions are translucent and mushrooms have released their moisture.
Add chestnuts and thyme to the pan and cook until fragrant.
Add stock and reduce until the stock coats the filling. It should look almost glazed. Remove from pan and cool. Once cooled toss with parsley and chives and adjust seasoning.
For the Shells:
Preheat oven to 350F
Lay puff pastry sheets out flat. Using a 2 inch in diameter circle cutter, cut as many full circles as you can. About 15 per sheet. With a 1 1/4 inch diameter circle cutter, remove the centers from half of your cut circles. So now you’ll have full circles(bases) and doughnuts.
Mix the egg yolks with 1 tbs of water, creating an egg wash. Should be thin enough to be brushed evenly
Brush one base with egg wash and stack with one doughnut shape. Then brush the top again with egg wash. Repeat until out of puff pastry.
Bake for about 10 min or until they have just started to puff up. Remove from oven and fill your cups up with your mushroom chestnut filling. Place cheese on top and bake again until cheese has melted and the puff pastry is a nice golden brown.
* To peel your chestnuts: Preheat oven to 400F. Using a small knife or a paring knife, make an X-shaped cut on the round part of the chestnut (see photo above). Roast for about 15-20 min or until the skin has pulled back. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 min. Remeber it's easier to peel when they are still warm so grab a friend and get at it! Chestnuts can be eaten once peeled, I suggest with a nice glass of wine.
As for a holiday update: we spent the holidays visiting our families in the Philadelphia suburbs. We had a wonderful time with them as short as it was. We both had work immediately after. This is the sad life of the industry but you really come to appreciate the time spent with family when it does happen. We hope you all had a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and we can’t wait to share more with you this year!