I eat cheese like it’s my job.
Hey, you gotta keep busy while you’re on maternity leave, right?
If we don’t have cheese, I literally don’t know what to do at lunch time. I’ve heard of kids who don’t like cheese, but I’m thankful those kids aren’t my kids. We accept a lot of differences in this family, but that would be a tough one to overcome. Besides, how totally adorable is it to hear preschoolers asking whether I’ve given them havarti or Gruyère because it doesn’t taste like their favourite white cheese, Monterey Jack. I mean, most things sound pretty adorable with a preschooler “accent”, but those little voices talking about cheese? I melt.
Brie is one of my favourite cheeses, but the rest of the fam isn’t quite sold on it, so I have to get sneaky. Mixing it with chicken and apple, two of their favourite things, made it totally acceptable and these cute little pastries were inhaled in no time. If you really don’t like Brie, these would be just as good with sharp Cheddar cheese.
This recipe comes from Julie Anne Hession’s 175 Best Mini Pie Recipes, the same book I adapted these Mini Lemon Coconut Pies from, which have become one of the most popular recipes on the blog! This book is packed full of great ideas, many of which, like this recipe, require a bit of patience to put together, but based on my tests so far they are well worth the effort. Naturally, my efforts never look as pretty as the pictures they have…good thing I’m not getting graded on presentation at the dinner table, just on taste :)
This would make an incredible pot pie combination too if you want to skip the individual pastry step – just top the filling with a sheet of puff pastry for an incredibly beautiful, unique twist on a classic comfort food. These can also be made ahead and frozen until needed – freeze them individually then, once solid, store in airtight bags or containers. Bake according to directions at any time – which also makes them perfect for bringing to someone who could use a meal on hand.
I’ve included my adaptations in the original recipe – which goes to show, when you don’t have all the ingredients you don’t need to set the recipe aside, just think of what might taste good instead and go for it :) I used store bought puff pastry – the homemade one looks awesome, but that is one thing I feel is totally worth buying unless you have some time on your hands and want some kitchen therapy. I like eating more than cooking, so anything that labour intensive isn’t therapy to me, just a test of patience :) We also slathered some red pepper jelly on top – next time I might just include it inside since it was the perfect sweet and spicy touch!
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter (I used salted butter)
- 1 large shallot, minced (I substituted half an onion)
- 1 tart apple, peeled and chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage (I used thyme)
- 1⁄8 tsp ground nutmeg (I omitted this)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3⁄4 cup apple cider (I substituted chicken stock)
- 1 tbsp brandy, optional (I omitted this)
- 2 cups shredded roasted chicken breast
- 1⁄2 recipe Shortcut Puff Pastry (see below recipe) or 1 box of prepared puff pastry
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp water
- 8 oz soft Brie, sliced
- Filling: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add shallot and apple; sauté until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in sage and nutmeg; season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle flour over mixture, stirring to coat. Add cider, reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Stir in brandy, if using. Stir in chicken and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
- Divide puff pastry in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half into a 15- by 10-inch (37.5 by 25 cm) rectangle. Using pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut rectangle into six 5-inch (12.5 cm) squares. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Brush edges of squares with egg wash. Place about 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) chicken mixture in center of each square. Top with 1 slice Brie. Fold squares in half diagonally, enclosing filling. Pinch together edges to seal, and crimp with the tines of a fork. Brush tops with egg wash.
- Place pies, on parchment lined baking sheet, in freezer for 30 minutes, until firm. Meanwhile, position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, switching positions of baking sheets halfway through if using 2 sheets, until pastry is puffed and deep golden brown. Let pies cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes before serving.
- Makes 12 turnovers.
Shortcut Puff Pastry
Makes about 2 lbs (1 kg) dough: Enough for about 16 pies
2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour 625 mL
3⁄4 cup cake flour 175 mL
1 tsp salt 5 mL
1 lb very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch (1 cm) cubes 500 g
3⁄4 cup ice water 175 mL
1. In bowl of stand mixer, beat all-purpose and cake flours and salt until combined. Scatter butter overtop and mix at low speed until butter is the size of lima beans. Add water and mix at low speed just until dough starts to come together, 10 to 15 seconds.
2. Transfer to a floured work surface and gently shape into an 8-inch (20 cm) square. Using a rolling pin, roll out into a 10- by 18-inch (25 by 45 cm) rectangle.
3. Using a knife, lightly score dough lengthwise to make three 10- by 6-inch (25 by 15 cm) sections. Using a flat cookie sheet or large spatula, carefully lift right third of dough and flip it over onto center section. Repeat with left third of the dough, as if folding a business letter. Rotate dough 90 degrees so that the long (10-inch/25 cm) side is facing you. You have now completed one turn of the dough.
4. Lightly flour work surface to prevent sticking and reroll dough into a 10- by 18-inch (25 by 45 cm) rectangle. Give the dough a second turn by scoring into thirds and flipping over the right and left thirds as you did in Step 3. Rotate dough 90 degrees so the long (10-inch/25 cm) side is facing you.
5. Repeat Step 4 twice, to make a total of four turns.
6. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
7. Transfer chilled dough to a lightly floured surface with the long side facing you. Give the dough two more turns. Rewrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Pastries made using cake flour have a lighter texture and finer crumb. If necessary, substitute 3⁄4 cup (175 mL) minus 11⁄2 tbsp (22 mL) sifted all-purpose flour, plus 11⁄2 tbsp (22 mL) cornstarch.
Don’t worry if the dough is tough to work with at first. It will smooth out and become more cohesive with every turn.
If the dough becomes too soft during the shaping process, wrap it tightly and chill for 30 minutes.
If you do not own a stand mixer, cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender. Add water and mix with a fork just until dough comes together.
I received a copy of this cookbook for review. I was not otherwise compensated for this post, and all opinions are, of course, my own.