Most of us usually think of puff pastry when it comes to dessert, but sometimes forget about how many ways it can be used in savory ways. The most classic types of appearance for puff pastry in a savory dish might be atop a chicken or other pot pie, or wrapping a piece of meat or Beef Wellington (such a delightfully old fashioned dish, that I may need to make for my boyfolk soon).
But recently I came up with these puff pastry croutons, and mighty pleased with myself I was. You can cut them into any shape you like, or just sliced the puff pastry freehand into squares or diamonds.
You can make big or small croutons…. the big ones might be lovely floating atop some creamy chicken and vegetables filling (back to that pot pie concept), or a soup of pretty much any sort, or a stew (I am going to float a big flat puff pastry circle on a bowl of this Provencal Fish Stew in the near future for sure).
When I first came up with these, it was for a holiday salad that I was making, and I used these baby leaf cookie cutters, which are extremely cute and extremely autumnal. For Halloween, little pumpkin shapes or ghosts or what not would be awesome. Hearts for Valentine’s Day, Christmas trees for Christmas. Stars for Fourth of July. And little fluted circles or diamonds or anything you like for other days. You can find endless cookie cutter shape varieties online and wherever baking tools are sold.
These are amazingly easy to make. If you are using frozen puff pastry, defrost it according to package directions. Refrigerated puff pastry dough is also available, which I think is a gift—immediate gratification—is there anything more… gratifying?
Store-bought puff pastry turns into easy flaky croutons, great for adding to a salad or a bowl of soup.Tweet This
How to Make Puff Pastry Croutons
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Lightly roll (or unroll) the puff pastry out onto a parchment-paper lined baking sheet.
If your puff pastry is frozen, it will need to be defrosted according to package directions. Thicker puff pastry should be lightly rolled out onto a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. The refrigerated version doesn’t need any rolling; it’s the right thickness right out of the package. Use cookie cutters to cut the desired shapes or just slice the puff pastry into squares or diamond shapes.
3. Option: Remove any excess dough.
You can remove any excess dough surrounding the shapes if you used cookie cutters, or you can just leave the shapes in place in the sheet of dough. If you decide to remove the excess dough your croutons will be slightly browned on the top and the sides, and if you leave the shapes in the sheet of dough the will just brown on top, and you will need to pop them out of the baked dough once they are done. Either way works fine, but the freestanding shapes will probably cook faster than the full sheet of dough.
4. Brush the top of the dough with a light wash.
You can brush the top of the dough with a light wash of mayonnaise for additional shine and golden brown color. A beaten egg yolk and/or a tablespoon or two of melted butter also work as a glaze, but the mayo is like a cross between brushing them with egg and melted butter, both classic options for making pastry glossy and nicely browned. If you are brushing cut-out shapes try and just brush the tops of the shapes, so the mayo doesn’t hamper the way the layered pastry rises.
5. Sprinkle the puff pastry dough with kosher salt or Parmesan or other seasonings.
After that, sprinkle them with a tiny bit of kosher salt. You can also add things like a sprinkle of Parmesan, or some sesame or poppy seeds, or even some dried herbs or other spices. This is a great way to play around with the herbs and spices in your pantry – match the flavors to the dish you will be adding the croutons to.
6. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes.
Bake anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes—small freestanding shapes will take the least amount of time, the whole sheet of pastry will take the longest. When the croutons are golden brown and flaky they are done. Test one to be sure.
And look—adorable little puff pastry croutons!
These work every which way. They work when you leave the dough in place around the cut outs, and they work when you peel up the excess puff pastry and leave the cut out silhouetted on the parchment paper (and then you get to eat the its and pieces of the baked pastry surrounding the shapes. They also keep in a sealed container for a few days, so you can make them ahead, and use them as the mood strikes. They also make great snacks—pair them with a glass of wine for a classy little hors d’ouevre.