I love when cooking transforms simple ingredients into something more than the sum of its parts. Heat is magic to me. By itself, it turns granulated sugar into caramel, butter into brown butter, (if you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing out on), bread into toast. Don’t laugh, toast is a main staple in my diet.
For vegetables, I’ve found this equation looks something like heat + vegetable + fat (oil or butter) + acid (vinegar, lemon juice, wine) + salt. Magic broccoli is a perfect example of this, and in this pastry, caramelized onions. Caramelizing onions brings out their inherent sweetness with none of the bite and harshness of raw onions. Paired with flaky, buttery pastry and cheese, they are perfection. I prefer savory pastries, and these hit the right balance indulgent without being rich. Also, they look like ravioli before they’ve been cooked.
They are dead simple to make but seem like the sort of thing one might serve as hors d’oeuvres on your yacht, or something equally fancy. I’m just making a guess here, I’m Midwestern and middle class. I’ve never even seen a yacht in real life, but invite me to yours? I’ll bring these, I promise.
French Onion Pastry Puffs
Adapted from Joy The Baker
Note: When buying puff pastry, look for one that has no sugar, just salt. They can usually be found by prepared pie crusts; I use Trader Joe’s. You can also make your own if you wish or can’t find them at your grocery store, but it quite a bit more work. I would use this recipe for it if I was making the pastry, omitting the sugar.
1 yellow onion, sliced into long half moons
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of granulated sugar
3 tablespoons wine (cooking or white) or broth
1 package puff pastry (Two 9×9 sheets), thawed but cold
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup shredded cheese – Gruyere, Monterey Jack, Gouda, or Swiss
In a large saucepan, melt butter and oil over medium heat. We use both because the flavor of butter is superior, but it has a lower heat point, so it needs the oil to stabilize it. Add onions and stir to coat with butter/oil. Add salt and pinch of sugar and stir. Let cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir again, then turn down the heat a bit and cover with a lid. Continue stirring at 5 minute intervals for another 20 minutes, or until the onions are brown and very soft. This means they are caramelized and have reached a whole new flavor level. Take the lid off, and add wine or broth. Let the liquid cook down for about 5 more minutes. Take onions off heat.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. While the onions are cooking, prepare your puff pastry area. Roll out the pastry and cut each sheet into squares of your desired size with an un-serrated knife. I cut each sheet into 16 squares, which meant squares that were approximately 2 1/4 inch on each side. They don’t need to be super exact. You can also cut rounds if you wish, but that does mean wasting some pastry. Brush all squares with egg; this acts as glue to help the pastry stick together. Put a heaping 1/2 tsp caramelized onions and 1/2 tsp cheese on half of the squares. Use a fork to crimp the sides down – it will look quite similar to ravioli – and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy. They are delicious both warm and cold.