Finger food update, May 2021: You don’t need a holiday to put the kids to work making party foods. These are a great idea any time of year.
Whether you’re joining friends for brunch or bravely attempting to make it with your kids until midnight, no New Year’s party would be complete without some canapés to accompany the fun. These three delicious recipes will keep all ages of party goers happy. Just pop a bottle of champagne and a bottle of sparkling apple cider and let the celebrations begin!
These classic French cheese puffs are not difficult to make, but look so impressive that the other guests will think you’ve been slaving away all night long! They also make the ultimate party food as they freeze well, so can be baked weeks ahead, then warmed up with a few minutes in the oven. Make a double batch and keep some in the freezer for whenever you have unexpected guests pop by.
Makes about 4 dozen gougères
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Freshly ground pepper
Heat oven to 450° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place butter, water, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir continuously for 2 minutes. (The mixture will form a ball as the water evaporates, but keep stirring for the full two minutes.) Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment for around a minute to cool it down.
Add eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed until the dough has completely incorporated, around 5 minutes. Add the cheese, season with pepper, then mix for 30 more seconds. Transfer a quarter of the mixture to a pastry bag (or a ziploc bag with a corner snipped off) and pipe the dough into roughly 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheet, leaving about an inch between each. Refill the pastry bag as needed and repeat until all dough has been piped out.
Place trays in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and bake for a further 20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. If not eating right away, cool on a rack and store in an airtight container, then warm for a few minutes in oven before serving.
(Note: If baking ahead, freeze on a flat tray, then transfer to a ziploc bag. When ready to eat, bake at 350° for around 5 minutes.)
British Sausage Rolls
Move over, pigs in blankets, these little sausage-stuffed pastries are coming across the pond to become a firm favorite Stateside too. They make an easy (and delicious) way to get protein into our kids’ bellies at parties, and are equally good hot, cold, or at room temperature. They also make a perfect picnic food, and are great popped into a school lunchbox.
Makes 24 sausage rolls
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small ¼” cubes and chilled in the freezer for a few minutes
½ cup ice water
2 lbs good quality bulk pork sausage (or bulk chicken sausage)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (or your favorite seasoning)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
Heat oven to 375° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Timesaving tip: Store-bought frozen puff pastry makes a fine substitute. Just thaw then roll out on a floured surface.
To make your own pastry:
Place flour and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and rub into flour with your fingers until mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs. Add ice water and mix well until dough forms a rough, sticky ball. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and form into a rough square around 1” thick. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
Place sausage, parsley and sage (or other seasoning) in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, then mix well. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry out to a rectangle around 9” by 24”. Cut lengthwise then crosswise to form 4 equal rectangles. Place ¼ of the sausage mixture in the center of each rectangle in a long and even strip, reaching from end to end. Wrap both sides of the dough around the center strip of sausage, and press edges together to seal. Flip so the log of dough is seam side down, then cut into 6 pieces. Place on lined baking sheet, then repeat with other three rectangles of dough.
Brush tops with the beaten egg, then place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden on top and sausage is cooked through.
Blue Cheese Savory Cookies
These elegant little bites are the perfect blend of sweet and savory, and make a great accompaniment to a cheese plate (or just by themselves). The blue cheese is blended into the pastry, giving every bite a subtle cheesy hint, and the jam on top adds a pleasing sweet and tangy note. Kids find these little thumbprint “cookies” hard to resist, so be sure to make plenty!
Makes around 3 dozen
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 ounces blue cheese crumbles (or crumbly goat cheese works just as well if that’s your preference)
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup apricot jam
Heat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the butter into small cubes. Place the butter, flour and cheese in the bowl of a food processor (or mixer), then season with pepper. Blend until the dough starts to form a ball and will hold together when pressed between your fingers.
Lightly flour a working surface, then knead the dough for a few minutes. Roll dough out to around 1/8” thick, then cut out with a small cookie cutter and place on baking sheet (lightly dusting the surface with flour if it gets sticky). Use your thumb to make a small indentation in the center of each, then spoon around ¼ teaspoon of the jam in.
Place trays in oven and bake for around 12-14 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Cool on a rack and either eat straight away or store in an airtight container.
This story was originally published in December 2015.