Nothing says it's time for the holidays like good ole pepper jelly. If you're from the South, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're not from the South, then you're probably saying "What the heck are you talking about? Pepper jelly?"
I remember the first time I found pepper jelly in the grocery store here in Maryland. I was so excited beyond belief to have found this rare commodity. I got to the checkout and, as the cashier was scanning my items, she stopped, picked up the pepper jelly, and uttered these words, "Pepper jelly? Gross. Who would eat that?" I have to say I was slightly insulted, but instead I met her disgust by telling her she had no idea what she was missing.
If you've never had pepper jelly, then the truth really is that you don't know what you're missing. Pepper jelly is the perfect condiment to be added to your appetizer menu during the holidays. Not only is it a festive red or green, but the combination of sweet and spicy will have your guests wondering about the marvel of this sticky stuff.
Typically, pepper jelly is served with whipped cream cheese, which is then spread on a buttery cracker such as Ritz. I decided to take a new path and make little bite-sized rolls using puff pastry sheets. The benefits are that it can be eaten in one bite, the taste is phenomenal, and it's wrapped in pastry. What's not to love?
The steps are fairly simple. The ingredients are even simpler still: one puff pastry sheet, a jar of pepper jelly, and cream cheese.
First, roll out your pastry sheet. Then spread the cream cheese, followed by the pepper jelly.
Roll the pastry into one long log. Don't worry about the jelly squirting out the side. It's messy but messy can be fun.
Look at that nice roll. Isn't it pretty?
Using a serrated knife, very gently slice the roll into 1 inch pieces and place on a pan lined with parchment paper.
Ready for the oven. These bad boys are baked for just 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Yes, you can make them up ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to bake. Serve warm and make sure you set some aside for yourself. These were gone in less than two hours in my house.
Note: Pepper jelly can be found in the jelly section of your local supermarket. It used to be hard to find, but I am seeing it more and more often in even the big-chain markets. It's typically a seasonal item at Trader Joe's. Get it now before it's gone!
Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly Puff Pastry
A delightful take on an old Southern appetizer, pepper jelly and cream cheese. Typically served with round crackers, this version uses puff pastry to make bite-sized rolls to delight your guests this holiday season.
- 1 sheet puff pastry sheet
- 2/3 cup pepper jelly
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1. Thaw out the puff pastry sheet completely. If it's too cold when you unroll it, the pastry will break apart in places. You still want it to be cold or otherwise the dough will get too sticky to handle. Unroll it when ready onto a lightly floured surface.
2. Using an offset spatula, spread the softened cream cheese over the top of the puff pastry sheet, being sure to spread all the way to the edges.
3. Using the offset spatula, spread your pepper jelly over the top of the cream cheese.
4. Beginning with the side furthest away from you, begin rolling the pastry sheet toward you, making sure you roll evenly across. Take your time and don't worry about the jelly squirting out.
5. Using a serrated knife, very gently slice the roll into 1-inch slices. Place each slice onto a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
6. While the rolls are refrigerating, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the rolls in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Serve warm.
Note: These rolls can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated before ready to bake. Do not refrigerate longer than 24 hours.