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Easy desserts (and some tips!) for holiday entertaining

Easy puff pastry desserts for the holidays on eatlivetravelwrite.comAround this time of year everyone’s “to do” lists start to get longer and the days seem to run out of hours faster and faster. Many people are planning their holiday parties or holiday meals with family and friends and ovens seem to be on most of the day. There are cookie exchanges and class parties to bake for, not to mention, well, the food that needs to be prepared to eat everyday.  It can be overwhelming for some people, especially those who are “not bakers”. Come on, admit it – there are a few of you out there who always tell me “That looks wonderful but I don’t bake.”  Especially around the holidays there seems to be a bit of pressure to bake up a storm and I have fallen victim to that myself. I have been the person salvaging peppermint squares whose bottoms were just a *tad* overcooked at 1am the morning of a cookie exchange one year (hint: cutting the burned bottom part off a peppermint slice isn’t tricky and does fix the problem but when you have 14 dozen of them to fix, you’d perhaps want to make sure you don’t overbake them in the first place). That year, I tried too hard – I made an un-tried recipe the day before I needed it. Never again, my friends.  Today I’m sharing my:

Top tips for stress-free holiday baking

1. Get organized

That’s right – a lot of the stress caused by holiday baking is simply due to lack of organization.  Make a list (and check it twice!) of all the things you need to bake. Write them on a calendar so you have a visual of what needs to be ready for which day.  If necessary, work backwards (some baking items need to be prepared the day before, rest in the fridge overnight or have multiple steps that requires a little time management).

2. Choose recipes you are familiar with

This is not the time to be experimenting in the kitchen. Pull out your tried and true recipes, the ones you know will work. If you’re like me, this is the time of year when you are madly bookmarking recipes “to make” but trust me, January’s grey, gloomy days will be a better time to experiment. When time is of the essence, you will want recipes that you can rely on.

3. Make extras

When I am baking for an occasion, I always try to make more than I need. For example, with cookies, I might make a batch and a half. This allows for enthusiastic taste testers and for any less than perfect specimens. Worst case scenario? You get to enjoy them after the event (I often find I never get to taste what I’ve made/ baked for a holiday gathering because I am too busy hosting!)

All that said, I’ve got three REALLY easy recipes for your holiday sweets table for those of you who love French-inspired dishes and who love working with puff pastry (sssh! It’s store-bought!).  Just in time for holiday baking, I received a Baker’s Secret® Easy Store™ 5-piece bakeware set from World Kitchen and was excited to try it out for this sweet baking project!

I love that this set is easy to store. Each piece nests and stacks with the others for compact, space-saving storage (and transportation – this set is travelling with me to France for the holidays!). The pieces all have nonstick surfaces (safe for metal utensils!) and are dishwasher safe but even with no dishwasher they  are a cinch to clean up. The set includes a  4” x 8” medium loaf pan, a 6-cup muffin pan, an 8″ square dish,  a 9-1/2” x 13-1/2” cookie sheet and  a 9″ x 13″ cake pan. Pretty much all your baking pan and tray needs right there!

BakersSecret Five Piece Easy StoreToday, I’m sharing sweet versions of the three easy French-inspired hors d’ouevres I wrote about recently.

First up: one of my favourite French desserts, minified – lemon tartlets,

Lemon tartlets on eatlivetravelwrite.comNext, a sweet palmier with raspberry and cranberry preserves (the tartness of the cranberry cuts the sweetness of the raspberry)

Raspberry cranberry palmiers on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd finally, lovely light puff pastry bâtons studded with one of my favourite French ingredients – pearl sugar.

Puff pastry pearl sugar batons on eatlivetravelwrite.comPearl sugar image on ShutterstockPearl sugar image from Shutterstock

Pearl sugar is commonly used for chouquettes – it’s granulated white sugar that is processed into larger grains which are polished somewhat so they have a pearly finish. Looking for pearl sugar and can’t find it in your local baking supplies store? Amazon’s got you covered!

Ready to get baking? These come together in under an hour and all of them require resting time in the fridge so you could definitely make these ahead of time and bake as needed!

Thres easy holiday desserts with puff pastry

Prep Time 60 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr 35 mins

Three easy deserts for holiday entertaining - lemon tartlet, pearl sugar bâtons and cranberry/ raspberry palmiers.

Serves approximately 30     adjust servings

Ingredients

  • For the mini lemon tartlets
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (approx 225g each)
  • approx 1 cup lemon curd
  • For the sweet palmiers (makes 10-12)
  • 1 roll puff pastry (approximately 225g - mine was a 25cm square)
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 1/4 cup cranberry preserves
  • For the sweet bâton twists (makes approximately 10)
  • 1 roll puff pastry (approximately 225g - mine was a 25cm square)
  • approximately 1/4 - 1/3 cup pearl sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. For the mini lemon tartlets
  2. Pre-heat oven to 400˚F.
  3. Roll out the sheets of puff pastry and use a cookie cutter (or the ring of a mason jar) measuring 7.5cm to cut 12 rounds of pastry.
  4. Fit the pastry rounds into a non-stick muffin tray, prick the bottom of each with the tip of a knife and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Place a paper baking cup inside each pastry round and fill with baking beans.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.
  7. Allow to cool completely before filling with the lemon curd.
  8. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  9. For the sweet palmiers:
  10. Roll out the puff pastry and spread the jam/ preserves thinly across the surface.
  11. Roll the puff pastry from one edge into the centre then the opposite edge into the centre as well. You will have what looks like two pastry rolls side by side.
  12. Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes.
  13. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F.
  14. Remove the pastry from the fridge and use a sharp knife (not serrated), slice the pastry into approximately 10-12 rolls.
  15. Place them flat on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
  16. If need be, re-shape them so both circles of pastry are round.
  17. Bake for approximately 25-35 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.
  18. For the sweet bâton twists:
  19. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F.
  20. Roll out the pastry and brush the surface with egg wash.
  21. Cut the pastry sheet in halves and place one half on top of the other, egg wash side down.
  22. Place on a flat surface in the fridge for approximately 15 minutes.
  23. Remove from the fridge and, using a pizza cutter, cut the pastry lengthwise into approximately 10-12 strips.
  24. Brush each strip lightly with the egg wash egg then press the pearl sugar into the pastry evenly across the entire surface of the strips.
  25. Pick up one strip, holding it at each end and twist in opposite directions.
  26. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment and gently press the ends together so they stick. Press any pearl sugar that had fallen off back into the pastry.
  27. Repeat with remaining strips and make sure not to overcrowd the baking sheets.
  28. Bake for 25-30minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden.

by

Love Baker’s Secret?  You could win one of five holiday prize packs from Baker’s Secret by taking part in the FBC/ Baker’s Secret Twitter party this Wednesday December 9th. All details here.

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Disclosure: I received compensation from Baker’s Secret in exchange for developing these recipes. As always, opinions are 100% my own and I only work with brands I use and can recommend myself.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!

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2 Responses to Easy desserts (and some tips!) for holiday entertaining

  1. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz December 6, 2015 at 20:04 #

    Puff pastry is the best for quick but fancy looking bites! palmier with raspberry and cranberry preserves you say…love it. I have a Christmas cookie baking party next weekend so may fin inspiration here.

  2. Coco in the Kitchen December 7, 2015 at 13:04 #

    Mini sweets are the best b/c you can have a taste of everything!

    Thanks for sharing your recipes, Mardi.

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