Ham + Swiss Pinwheels
A cocktail party favourite.
by Erin Henderson
Years ago, long time readers with a particularly close eye might remember, I discovered Julia Child, the undisputed Grande Dame of dinner parties, kept her menus very simple. A lover of Champagne and martinis, she would welcome guests with one or the other, generally just paired to a bowl of… Goldfish Crackers. Just a little salty bite to encourage the appetite to rev up.
I haven’t yet steeled my nerve to replicate Ms. Child’s favoured welcome nosh, but I have taken a page from her book, and dialed back my staters to something streamlined and light, only wanting to entice the mouths and stomachs of guests, not stuff them silly.
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These pinwheels fit the bill nicely. Salty and rich, they balance beautifully against a glass of wincingly sharp brut bubbly, and a bite or two is satisfying, not coma-inducing. There is room left for dinner, and that, of course, is the whole point of the evening.
Ham + Cheese Pinwheels
Resist the urge to overstuff these pinwheels. If you do, the puff pastry might break. These are delicate pastry bites, not a stuffed-crust pizza.
I also like these fillings:
- Tomato sauce and mozzarella
- Olive tapenade, rosemary, and goat cheese
- Pesto and parmesan (just be cautious about the oil in the pesto)
- Cream cheese/Boursain, mortadella, and olives (Cream cheese holds better than burrata or other soft cheeses which can leak out all over the place.)
Makes: about 12 pinwheels
Chef level: Easy
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
- Flour, for dusting
- 1/4 c Dijon mustard
- 1/3 c grated Swiss cheese
- 75g thinly sliced Black Forest Ham
- 1 egg lightly beaten
How to Make It:
- Thaw the puff pastry according to the package directions
- Preheat the oven to 400°F
- On a floured surface, roll out pastry into a 11x8 (or so) rectangle
- Brush the pastry with a thin layer of Dijon, spreading to the edges, but leaving a finger sized border and the top of the pastry sheet.
- Lay out the ham slices.
- Sprinkle with the Swiss cheese.
- Brush the north border with egg wash (this will help seal the roll.)
- With the side closest to you begin rolling the pastry away from you, into a log, pressing firmly on the egg-washed seam to seal the pastry.
- Brush the pastry on all sides with the egg wash.
- Using a sharp knife, thinly slice of the wobbly ends for a nice, clean line on each end (save the rough cuts for a chef's treat!) and the slice through the log into one-inch (or so) discs.
- If they've flattened out, you may need to reshape them back into circles.
- Place each disc (so a cut side is flat on the tray and the other cut side is facing up) on a baking tray lined with parchment and bake for about 25 minutes, turning the tray halfway, for even baking.
- Give them a moment to cool and serve while still warm.
Tips for Succes:
- Puff pastry needs to be really cold. If you get distracted on are taking your time putting these together, just pop them (at any stage) back in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill the pastry down again.
- You can make these in advance. You can either go to Step 8 and leave the completed roll in the fridge for up to 2 hours before slicing, or you can leave the cut, uncooked pinwheels on the baking tray in the fridge for about an hour before baking off.
Buttery pastry, salty ham, rich cheese... these decadent starters just beg for good, brut sparkling wine. Proper Champagne is a real treat, but a quality Crémant de Alsace would be exceptional, too.