Comté adds a decadent, oozy cheese layer to this fun and festive puff pastry Christmas tree. While there are many great store-bought options for basil pesto, making it fresh and leaving the texture a bit uneven adds something special to this dish. A strand of fairy lights to adorn your Comté Christmas tree will add a bit of sparkle to your holiday table!
2 stems fresh Rosemary, divided into small bunches for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Prepare the baking sheet by lining with parchment paper, and set aside. Prepare the Comté cheese by dividing into 3 ounces grated, and 2 ounces cut into ½-inch thick slices. Using small star shaped cookie-cutters, cut out one larger star for the top of the tree, and several smaller stars for decorating the body of the tree. Set aside.
Make the pesto: blend together the basil, toasted nuts, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. This mixture can be blended until smooth, or left a bit chunky for added texture. Set aside.
Prepare the puff pastry: working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the two puff pastry sheets to approximately 10×15 inches (27x38cm) and ⅛-inch thick rectangle. Ensure the pastry is floured so it won’t stick together, and stack the two sheets together. Transfer the pastry to the parchment lined baking sheet. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut a tree shape in the dough – a large triangle for the tree and a small square at the bottom for the tree trunk. Trim away the excess pastry and set aside for future use or discard.
Transfer one layer of the pastry back to the floured surface and keep aside. Spread the pesto over the bottom layer of the pastry tree on the baking sheet, from edge to edge. Sprinkle the grated Comté cheese into an even layer over the pesto. Top the cheese with the second layer of pastry and gently press down so the layers stick together.
To form the “branches” on the tree, cut horizontal lines through both layers of the pastry on the left and right side, about ¾ to 1-inch (2 cm) apart. Do not cut all the way through each side – the gap in between the cuts will create the main “trunk” of the tree. Take each strip and twist to create spirals all the way up the tree, leaving the main “trunk” flat through the middle.
Beat the egg with 1 tbsp of water and using a pastry brush, brush an even coating on the top of the pastry all over the tree. Bake the pastry for 10 minutes and rotate to ensure even baking, if necessary. Bake for another 8-10 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through and evenly browned. Allow to cool on the baking sheet, and transfer the cooled tree to a serving dish.
To decorate the tree, place the larger Comté cheese star on the top of the tree, and arrange the smaller stars around the branches. Distribute the pickled peppers and rosemary bunches evenly around the branches. Decorate with a strand of fairy lights if desired. Enjoy!
The Fall/Winter 2023 edition of Comté News is now available!