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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.

Happy New Year, from all of us who stayed up too late last night.

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20 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dude. That is an amazing way to repurpose broken beaters. And think how much time I will save, which I could devote to more blog-reading.

    And, when will “repurpose” become a word, so that the red squiggles will stop? Redo is fine, rework, also okay. The OCD in me is screaming.

    Damn. Now, “OCD” is no good. :::frowning:::

    January 1, 2012
    • I hear you! I got red squiggles on “I dashed. . . ” in the first paragraph of this post. Really?

      January 1, 2012
  2. Holy crud! Those look good. Perhaps I should start researching mini PB&J cupcakes for you. It could give my life meaning this year…

    January 2, 2012
    • Seriously– please get all weird on some PB&J cupcakes. I can’t decide if they baked the peanut butter and jelly in there to start with, or if they injected them in somehow afterwardkind of stealth-like. They were by “Baked By Melissa.” ( Also, PS- why have we not discussed the possibility of living in a truck in Manhattan and selling little baked goods through a window? You know “Melissa” is just rolling in cash money at this point. Gr.

      January 3, 2012
      • Dude! I’ve got a plan to run my own food truck! IT WILL ONLY SELL THINGS THAT ARE SUGARY. Or, things that can kill you. And it will be pink! Now, I suppose I could drive that truck to Manhatten… we could live in it. Do you think people would be freaked out by that?

        Also, it looks like Melissa baked the jam into the cupcake and then used a peanut butter frosting. Which tells you that I spent a little too much time on her website.

        January 6, 2012
      • I don’t think people would be freaked out by us living the pink truck at ALL. The beauty of Manthattan is that at any given moment, there are guaranteed to be at least 19 FREAKIER things happening around the pink truck. All of this makes the pink truck seem extremely classy and safe to those walking by. But I think we should take this conversation onto email, lest the public record of it bar us from getting a permit. Which you should put in for NOW, fyi.

        January 7, 2012
  3. A happy belated birthday to you Scott.

    January 2, 2012
    • Keith, Scott says “thanks.” He is not a man of many words (kidding. false–I think he was a little hungover or he would have said more.) Hope you and the Mrs. had a fun New Year!

      January 3, 2012
  4. A fire-starter log sounds delicious!!! 😉 😉

    just kidddding. that puff looks awesome. Happy Birthday, Scott!!

    January 3, 2012
    • Amelia, I loved your post about sending the man Christmas tree-shopping. We cut ours down this year (see “The Time I was hypnotized by a goat”) and it was a DISASTER. It did not have quite so magical a finish as your evening. Your story was so touching– I read it out loud to Scott as we drove back to Alabama last night!

      January 3, 2012
  5. Kate #

    The key is to have a cordless drill, because then you can make whipped cream anywhere! (Do you remember Sarah P doing this at the wine tasting lunch before the wedding?)

    Great picture of Miss T.

    January 3, 2012
    • For the life of me, I can’t remember this lunch. I was probably overcome by emotion and had to step out to wash the mascara off my face. Either that, or the “wine tasting” aspect of the lunch (and the champagne at the hair salon) had already taken its toll. Heh.

      January 5, 2012
  6. If you ever have a desire to make your own hot pepper jelly I have a recipe I’d be happy to share. I’m not a canner or anything but one year found a recipe and thought “even *I* could do that” I’ve taught friends and family too because once I give it away they LOVE it 🙂 these puffs sound fantastic. Can’t wait to make them!

    January 4, 2012
    • I won fourth place at the county fair for my jalapeno pepper jelly. So I could pass on my recipe, too!! When you make it yourself, you can dye it red or green.

      I’ll have to bookmark this recipe.

      January 5, 2012
      • Oh how fun! That must have been a blast. I’m considering selling things at our local farmers’ market in the spring– I think it’d be so fun. I would be honored to try making your award-winning pepper jelly! (And as I mentioned in reply to Andrea, I just got a canning kit.) Do you have the recipe handy on a website, or could you email it to, or even post in the comments? Thank you!

        January 5, 2012
    • Andrea, I’d love your recipe! Could you email it to, or paste it in the comments? Pepper jellies and chutneys and relishes are awesome. Thank you! I got a canning kit for Christmas. I’m a little scared to use it (lest I create a botulism lab in my kitchen) but I’m going to take a canning class in June, so hopefully I should be okay.

      Thanks again!

      January 5, 2012
  7. ringfingertanline #

    Goat cheese is the way to my heart. I have never had it with hot pepper jelly, but thinking about it is making me want to go grocery shopping. And that takes a lot.

    January 5, 2012
    • Well I just happen to have some apples, left-over goat cheese and more cinnamon than any one person has reason to own, so I may just whip up some of those goat cheese apples you gave there.

      My less classy half wants to tell you that I adore hot pepper jelly on just cream cheese, if you haven’t had occasion to try it. Cheers!

      January 5, 2012
  8. i love the cupcake trucks in soho!!

    January 6, 2012
    • Ah me too. Do you know The Treats Truck? ( — the site lists the schedule of where it’s going to be) It would park outside my office near Times Sq. two times a week and those days were always glorious. Needless to say, I have seen no such trucks in Alabama. But in Alabama, I live in a space that is big enough that I no longer have to shower and brush my teeth while standing on my toilet, which was essentially the only option in my teeny Manhattan apartment!

      January 6, 2012

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