Cheese Twist Christmas Tree

Wow the guests at your next holiday party with this delicious, pull-apart Christmas tree appetizer. The combination of crispy, buttery, flaky puff pastry wrapped around cheese and pesto is a stellar combination. Serve as-is or alongside some spicy tomato sauce for dipping.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
30 mins
Additional Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Servings:
8
Yield:
8 servings

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, How Delicious Are Thy Branches

When it comes to party-friendly food, there are few things as easy and delicious as crispy, cheesy, puff pastry-based bread sticks. Not only can this versatile snack be made with all sorts of different cheeses, sauces, and dips, but as you see here, it can be made into the shape of a Christmas tree.

One of the huge keys here is finding a decent frozen puff pasty, made with real butter. I'm not a huge read the label guy, but this time we really do want to check. If butter isn't one of the main ingredients, find another option, or make your own, using the dough recipe from our croissant video.

The other just-as-important tip is to make sure you cook your "tree" long enough. I like to bake it as long as I can, and get it as browned and crisp as possible, so as to avoid the dreaded undercooked puff pastry, which is, culinarily speaking, one of the saddest things ever. When it doubt, give it another few minutes. Besides a quality pastry, and a long enough bake, not much can go wrong, and I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 (14 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, or as needed

  • cup prepared pesto sauce, divided

  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone liner (such as Silpat®).

  2. Roll pastry into a 14-inch square, sprinkling with flour if necessary.

  3. Cut from the bottom corners up to the center top to make a triangle. Place the triangle on a prepared baking sheet and place in the refrigerator.

  4. Overlap the long edges of the 2 remaining pieces of pastry by about ½ inch to form a second triangle. Roll to flatten slightly. Place on the second prepared baking sheet and chill until needed.

  5. Remove the first triangle from the refrigerator. Lift the silicone liner and pastry off the pan and onto the counter. Trim about 1 ½ inches off the bottom of the triangle and cut a 2-inch piece from that strip. Tuck that piece under the triangle to make a trunk.

  6. Spread all but 1 to 2 tablespoons pesto sauce over the entire triangle, leaving ¼ inch exposed at the edges. Grate most of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the pesto. Place the second pastry triangle over top; stretch and pull it to fit, and trim off any extra dough as needed. Lightly press the edges together to seal and pat over the whole surface of the dough.

  7. Use a pizza wheel to cut ¾-inch horizontal strips on one side of the tree going from the outside edge in to about ¼ to ½ inch from the center; leave the center part connected to form the trunk. As you move up the tree, it may be easier to place the pizza wheel at the trunk and cut out to the edge. Repeat on the other side, lining up the cuts with the first side.

  8. Lift up each strip and twist 3 to 4 times. As you get up to the shorter pieces near the top, twist as many times as you can, but don't worry if you can't twist the strips at the very top.

  9. Brush remaining pesto over the center of the tree and any other spots you feel need it. Transfer the silicone liner back onto a baking sheet. Grate remaining cheese over top.

  10. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until pastry is fully cooked and well browned, 30 to 35 minutes; do not undercook.

  11. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes before serving.

    pesto- and cheese-filled puff pastry shaped in the form of a Christmas tree
    Cheese Twist Christmas Tree. Chef John

Chef's Notes:

I used Dufour puff pastry.

The pesto is technically optional… you can just make this with cheese. Or you can use tomato-based or pepper-based sauces.

You can use any other cheese you like instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

If you want to decorate this further, you could add bits of red pepper to look like ornaments or slivers of anchovies to look like tinsel.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

355 Calories
26g Fat
24g Carbs
8g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 355
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 8mg 3%
Sodium 316mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 8g
Potassium 68mg 1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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