I was in Cebu a week ago and the day before returning home, I asked Artisan C. if he would be kind enough to sell me some puff pastry if he thought it could weather a three-hour or more transit time to Manila. He said it might make it if I kept it chilled, so part of my luggage was a box filled with about 10 portions or sheets of hand-made puff pastry, chilled with frozen sisig as the “blue ice” proxy. :) The flight was a bit delayed and including transit time, the puff pastry was out of the freezer for nearly 4.5 hours, so I was expecting the worst when we opened up the boxes in our Manila kitchen. They were a bit soft, but still quite cold, so I think they made the journey relatively unscathed. If you’re wondering what the big deal is, if puff pastry warms up and the fat between the layers oozes out or mixes with the dough, it won’t puff up nicely when baked. These are the first of several recipes we made with the bounty of puff pastry (most of it with butter, but some of it an experimental batch with zubulard).
The pastry sticks were an absolute hit. So easy to make if you have puff pastry in the freezer, either hand made by someone else (trust me, I have NO desire to even attempt making my own puff pastry), or even the store-bought kind, which is consistent but much pricier. To make the sweet pasty sticks, I simply took out thawed some sheets of puff pastry and brushed the entire side with egg wash. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar all over (use a lot of sugar). Cover with some greaseproof paper or the plastic that the pastry is wrapped in and press lightly to help the sugar adhere to the dough. Remove the plastic, fold the pastry in half so that the sugar is “inside” and brush the exposed pastry with more egg wash and sprinkle more sugar. Cut with a pizza cutter into 1/3 or 1/2 inch strips, twist and place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat mat or baking paper. Place in a hot oven say 400F for about 12-15 minutes until puffed, golden and done. Fantastic! Could barely wait for them to cool, and they were crisp, sweet, cinnamony, and perfect. The top two photos here are the sugar/cinnamon sticks.
Thrilled with the results above, we immediately took out more puff pastry and instead of sugar and cinnamon, we put grated queso de bola (leftovers from the holidays!) and cracked black pepper. This seemed like a great idea, but I find the cheese melted and provided a bit too much moisture so the resulting sticks, while very good, weren’t as crisp as the sugary ones. Also, you have to put a LOT of cheese or season further with salt. Maybe next time I would add some dried herbs as well.
The crew are getting immune to all of my crazed experiments in the kitchen, and several are on diets after blood tests revealed we all have to watch blood numbers, so you know what you’ve cooked is pretty good when four sheets of pastry are wiped out before the end of the day… :) And they took any leftovers home to their families. These are easy yet delicious appetizers or dessert items for your family or a crowd of visitors. Definitely have to remember this for holiday entertaining. Thanks Artisan for the puff pastry… the experiments shall continue. :)