Champignon Mushroom & Dates, en Croute

While I like the idea of a brie en croute, unfortunately, I’ve attended too many parties where the at-first delicious pastry is sadly left to ooze and cool into an unappetizing mass on the platter and left untouched the rest of the evening. For shame!

Here the popular appetizer gets miniaturized and updated with an earthy mushroom-specked triple-cream and slices of dates. These sweet and savory little packages will delight your guests all evening long. And no doubt will there be any bits left of these tasty bites.

Champignon Mushroom & Dates, en Croute

Makes 16 appetizers

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (recipe follows)

6 oz. Champignon mushroom triple-cream cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (removing the rind is optional)

Dates, thinly sliced

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400 º F.

Prepare the egg wash by beating the egg with a a tablespoon of cold water.

Cut the puff pastry into 16 squares. Place slices of dates (about 4-5) on puff pastry. Top with cheese. Fold one corner of the square up. Brush the opposite corner with a dot of egg wash and fold up. Brush the remaining two corners with egg wash and fold up, like you are making an envelope. Place on a cookie sheet and repeat the process with the remaining squares. Then brush the top of the pastries with the egg wash (this will give the pastries a nice golden color). Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Puff pastry recipe (adapted from Alice Waters’s puff pastry recipe)

Yes, puff pastry. Homemade. Save the rolling of the eyes for when you bite into it, for it is so well worth it. (I tried the store-bought kind and was sorely disappointed. The shortening in it leaves an awful filmy taste. Butter is always so much better.) On a cold winter’s day, give it a go, and throw it in the freezer for when you need it most. You will thank yourself later.

4 cups of flour

1 ¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup and 2 T ice water

5 sticks of cool butter

In a bowl, stir together flour and salt and make a well. Pour ½ cup of water into well and begin to stir with a fork. As the flour becomes incorporated at the center, add the remaining water and continue to incorporate. When the dough begins to come together, add 1 stick of butter and knead, to form a round mass. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough and form it into a cross-shape with the center thicker than the cross’s arms. Place the 4 sticks of butter in the center. Fold each arm of the cross over the butter. Sprinkle the top with flour and roll out into a rectangle, about 18″ x 9″. Fold the rectangle like a letter by folding the shortest side up, about a third of the rectangle and folding the opposite side over it. Set the long side of the rectangle closest to you and roll out again into an 18″ x 19″ rectangle. Fold like a letter again. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Repeat this same process (rolling out and folding twice) two more times, letting the dough rest in between. Let it rest one more hour after the final time before use. Use it within a day or freeze, wrapped well.