A Birthday (with Cocktail Puffs)
Today is Scott’s birthday.
Last year, his birthday cake was a miniature peanut butter and jelly cupcake that he ate on Prince Street, in SoHo. He was on the phone when I spotted the cupcake truck. I dashed over to it while he wasn’t paying attention and I bought the cupcake and a candle. I borrowed matches from a tourist. The tourist didn’t speak English, but he smiled at me.
Because everyone smiles at a woman who has stopped in the middle of a cobblestone street to light a candle in a little box in the freezing cold for a man who has looked up from the opposite sidewalk.
It was magical. It was one of those moments that goes by in slow motion until, you know, someone’s about to get hit by a car.
That kind of spontaneous perfection doesn’t happen every day, of course. Generally, it’s chaos. Generally, one of us ends the day with something like “I think you should know that Thunder ate the starter log out of the fireplace.”
We have our differences of opinion, Scott and I. For example, he thinks it’s perfectly fine to attach the arm of a broken eggbeater to a working drill and use it in the kitchen. True story. Not okay, people. Not okay.
But he puts up with me, even when I do things like dowload a game called “Bakery Story” onto his iPhone. I love it, and it drives him insane. According to Scott, this game will send you “a million text messages a day asking you to bake stuff,” which is “like an angry bird texting you every 45 seconds about catapulting it into some pigs.”
See, I completely disagree. But today it doesn’t matter, because he’s pretty wonderful and it’s his birthday.
Since I have no idea how to make miniature PB&J cupcakes, I’m using the cupcake tin for something else.
Goat cheese and hot pepper jelly cocktail puffs.
They’re perfect for entertaining. You can also make them with caramelized onion (pictured directly above) if you have a little more time.
Otherwise, I use a mild goat cheese and a dollop of hot pepper jelly (Stonewall Kitchen brand is often on hand). They’re super easy, but there’s a lot going on inside: they’re tangy and flaky and creamy and buttery and they have a little kick.
Very different from the taste of a fire-starter log, I imagine.
Many thanks to pastry chef Lily of The Rising Sun Bakery Project for making these with me over the holidays.
Goat Cheese & Hot Pepper Jelly Cocktail Puffs
Ingredients: (Makes at least 12 puffs per sheet of dough)
1 sheet puff pastry dough (thawed– follow directions on package)
hot pepper jelly (about 12 tsp.)
goat cheese (about 12 tbsp.)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Lightly flour a working surface and roll out the thawed sheet of pastry dough so that it’s about 3/4 as thick as it was in the package.
With a biscuit cutter, cut 12 circles out of the dough. Make circles into little cups in a muffin tin as pictured above. (You don’t need to grease the tin because the dough is buttery enough.)
Place a dollop of goat cheese and a dollop of pepper jelly into each pastry cup.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until they puff up and brown around the edges.
Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Cocktail Puffs
1 sheet puff pastry dough (thawed- follow directions on package).
1 large onion
goat cheese (about 12 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. olive oil or butter, or a combination of both.
dash salt and 1 tsp.brown sugar (optional)
Chop the onion. Heat the olive oil or butter in a skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the onion. About ten minutes in, add a dash of salt and the brown sugar, if desired.
Cook, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes, or until the onions are a rich brown color.
Then follow the instructions above, swapping caramelized onions for the pepper jelly.