12.15.2018

Perfect Puffs

Recently, on a trip to Pasadena, I found a 1955 Peter Pauper Press book with the slightly-corny title, A Merrie Christmas Cook Book.

I was taken in by the colorful cover, and opened it to peruse the contents. Retro recipes jumped from every page.

Retro can be good, like today’s recipe. Or not. Remember those garish gelatin salads? Crown roast of frankfurters? You get the idea. This book has a lot of the better dishes from the 50s and 60s.

Today, I offer a canapé recipe that stands the test of time. It is elegant, delicious, and just right for holiday entertaining. Simple. Flexible. Tasty.

The original recipe, as you can see from the page, is Anchovy Puffs. However, not everyone is a fan of anchovies.

With some experimentation, I’ve found you can substitute olive paste, sun dried tomato paste, or a thick pesto.

Or you can even go the sweet route and make them with a bit of jam, nut paste, or ganache.

That’s what I mean about flexible. You can even use half the dough for savory and half for sweet, or save half in the fridge for another day

While this is a great holiday recipe, I know I will use it year round!

~ David

Anchovy Puffs

1 cup flour
8 ounces cold cream cheese
4 ounces cold butter
anchovy paste (or other filling)


Place flour in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the steel blade. Cut cream cheese and butter into cubes and place on top of flour. Cover and begin processing with 10 pulses. Then run processor until the dough comes together in a ball. Because the cream cheese and butter started cold, this dough can be rolled and used immediately. *

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Roll the pastry thin - about 1/8inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut into rounds. Gather scraps, knead then together, and re-roll. You should have at least 60 rounds.

Place 1/4 teaspoon of your chosen filling in the center of each round, then fold in half and use the tines of a fork to crimp curved edges. Place the half-moons on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes approximately 60.

* If you don’t have a food processor, use room temperature cream cheese and butter, and mix by hand. When using this method, the dough must be refrigerated for at least an hour prior to using.




41 comments:

  1. Such a versatile recipe; what a find! I love the sound of the dough. From the photo I assumed you were using puff pastry.

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    1. Lois - The dough is so easy and quite tender - easy to use, as well!

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    2. I assumed the same thing, Lois! This sounds too easy to be true ... but enticing! Sue

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  2. I make a similar cream cheese crust (with a splash a cream) and find it to be silky and so easy to work with. I think I'll make a figgy version of these to take to a Christmas party tonight. Although I do have a tube of anchovy paste in the fridge so maybe I'll take your advice and go 50/50 sweet and savory. GREG

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  3. Absolutely nothing retro about these: they are virtually a national dish in Estonia for each and every party, tho' often made with yeast dough. We bake as you do or deep-fry in back fat, esp with the yeast dough. Favourite fillings include bacon/onion, meat/rice, mushroom duxelles, carrot/raisins and chopped egg salad. Love anchovies but would use the heavily pickled/spiced ones . . .

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    1. I love all your ideas, Eha - and I had no idea that these were an Estonian tradition. Are you of Estonian decent? Is that why you are so familiar with Arvo Pärt?

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    2. *smile* Born in Tallinn, bred in Sydney . . . Oh methinks these are a 'tradition' throughout the Baltics and Finland . . by the time they get to Poland they are made a wee differently . . .

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  4. These look great and I like the sound of that pastry dough. Can definitely have fun with the choice of fillings. Beautiful pics David. Hope you two are enjoying this festive season.

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    1. Thanks, Ngeun - I would love ot know what you would fill them with! Hope your holiday season is festive, as well!

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  5. Oh god, I'd almost forgotten about those jello salads. That was the worst part of the Christmas dinner growing up. Thank god they don't sell Jello in Sweden. But, I never had to experience a Crown roast of frankfurters, sounds interesting.
    Lovely cookbook David. Retro is good in my book but I agree these have stood the test of time. I'd go right for the anchovy but might also try some with lemon curd. You guys have a wonderful Holiday Season.

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    1. SO sorry I reminded you of the Jell-O salads. Just try to forget them again! How sensible that Sweden doesn't sell the stuff!

      I am loving your lemon curd idea! How would it hold up to the heat??

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  6. Another great share! So I shall now share in turn...

    If you like this cookbook check this site out! http://www.midcenturymenu.com/about/

    The best and absolute worst retro recipes including congealed salads and aspics galore. ;)

    I cant say I've tried a ton of the recipes but just reading the titles and their reactions to them are highly entertaining to read and gauge reactions while sitting around with friends.

    I can, however, highly recommend their tomato soup chocolate cake recipe! It sounds, smells, and looks horrific when you're prepping it but smells and tastes amazing after baking!

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    1. OMG - that was so much fun, Becky! We loved both the best and worst recipes - and laughed for hours by the fire yesterday! Thanks for sharing that!

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  7. I remember some of those awful gelatin salads but other dishes were delicious. Your little puffs look so good and I love anchovies.

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    1. As in music, only the best will survive the test of time, Gerlinde - perhaps Jell-O salads will disappear altogether?

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  8. Used cream cheese pastry sever times for the cake: baked crepes like layers filled with walnut paste. This ingredients ratio seems great; keeper both for savoury and sweet dishes as you say ! Love it ! Thank you David !

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    1. The walnut paste filled cake sounds amazing! Thanks!

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  9. I'm actually a big anchovy fan! And I also love the sun-dried tomato and olive past idea. The cover of the book would definitely have jumped out at me too. :-)

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    1. Valentina - I am actually surprised at how many people are saying they like anchovies! From all the "hold the anchovies" you hear at pizza places (we actually have a pizzeria here called "No Anchovies!") you would think they were universally hated.

      And the book - so beautifully designed. Just love it!

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  10. I know what you mean about those retro recipes- I've got my 1947 Fanny Farmer cookbook right by my side and every once in a while I turn to her recipe titled 'Whole Chicken Baked in Aspic' just to have a little giggle. However, maybe that's not being fair, since Fanny was a bit of a trail blazer. Regarding your featured recipe, only four ingredients for such delicious food- I'm sold!

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    1. I remember that Fannie Farmer recipe, Fran - what a hoot! There were several others, too...

      These puffs, however, are quite wonderful.

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  11. Somehow I've missed the crown roast of frankfurters in my eating life. :-) Anyway, these puffs look terrific. I've actually made something kinda sorta similar in the past, and had forgotten all about these. They're good! Glad to get reacquainted -- thanks. And Happy Holidays!

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    1. I would say that no one I know ever "missed" the crown roast of frankfurters, John. I think we call it dodging a bullet!

      Hope you and the Mrs. have a great holiday planned... I am sure there will be cocktails!

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  12. These sound perfect for the festivities! Lovely and savoury.

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  13. David, besides tasting good, these are so pretty! Yes, retro can be perfectly ghastly, but in this case, perfectly wonderful. I think these are going on my menu tomorrow evening!

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    1. Jean - I vote that we bring back the good retro and bury the bad! If you made them, I hope you enjoyed them!

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  14. So glad I missed the Crown roast of frankfurters!

    These look so yummy and versatile! My kids love snacks like this. Definitely have to try it!

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    1. They do make perfect kid snacks - and with all the filling options, the possibilities are pretty endless. I imagine if my mother made these, she would fill them all differently and then we would get a surprise each time!

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  15. These are so adorable and I bet really tasty. Merry Christmas :D

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  16. Crown roast of frankfurters? No comment.

    Anchovy puffs? Yes please!! I occasionally grab a jar or tube of anchovy paste from the grocer to spread on my morning toast. I love the stuff! I could easily devour all 60 of these little darlings!

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    1. I hope everyone knows that I would never - NEVER - make a crown roast of frankfurters...

      Anchovy paste is one of my favorite condiments...it adds so much to so many dishes!

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  17. I didn't even eat those gelatin salads in the 60s David! This looks great--wish I had seen this before appetizer time tonight! I did a sweet cookie with a similar dough years ago--it was amazingly flakey! Best wishes for a great holiday season!

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    1. I avoided most of the gelatin salads, but do have a soft spot for aspic! My best to you, too, Inger!

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  18. My dad is such an anchovy fan, he'd LOVE these! I agree, not a typical recipe from that type of book! ;)

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    1. Anchovies are such an acquired taste - hated them when young, and love them now!

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