Whenever I’m in charge of appetizers, I grab some store-bought puff pastry. It’s easy to add simple ingredients to the puff pastry to turn them into gourmet hors d'oeuvres.
For this recipe, I add a combination of salty prosciutto (an Italian cured ham), parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs to the puff pastry. It is rolled and sliced into pinwheels, which get crisp and flaky as they bake.
These are a real crowd-pleaser! It’s nice to have a warm starter that’s really a breeze to prepare before the big feast. Plus, it’s hard to have just one, trust me, I tried!
Working with Puff Pastry
Puff pastry is super thin layers of dough—as it bakes, the layers separate, creating a crisp and light texture. It’s wonderful!
I use frozen puff pastry; it’s sold at most grocery stores in the freezer section. It’s a convenient product to defrost, which can be done in the refrigerator the day before, or at room temperature, which takes about 40 minutes.
Store-bought puff pastry usually comes rolled into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. To create this stunning pinwheel, the puff pastry needs to be rolled out into a larger and thinner rectangle, which allows for a better ratio of pastry to prosciutto. You don't want it to taste too doughy. Plus, this creates a tighter shape.
Make sure that the dough is cool, but pliable. It’s hard to work with when it gets too warm. If the fat melts, you also lose some of those crisp layers, resulting in a less puffy texture. Pop it back in the fridge to cool if this happens.
The Creamy Herb Spread
I like to chop up fresh herbs like oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme to flavor the base. If you are in a pinch for time, dried Italian seasoning is a quick and easy substitute. I use half the amount dried herbs than the fresh herbs since the flavors are more concentrated.
I’ll let you in on a secret: This is my go-to spread for sandwiches and wraps! You can also use it as a dip for the pinwheels for an extra layer of flavor.
Fill the Puff Pastry
Once the puff pastry is rolled out, it’s time for the fun part: the filling! I’m not shy with the sauce, so I use it all, evenly spread over the puff pastry. Make sure to leave a 1/2-inch border—this makes it easier to roll up.
The thinly sliced prosciutto can be a little tricky to separate, so I like to freeze it for about 10 minutes to make it easier to work with. Add the prosciutto and parmesan cheese over the creamy herb spread, and tightly roll the puff pastry. A little egg wash on the edge helps to seal the log.
Chill Dough Before Slicing
The dough will warm up as you work with it, so chilling it before slicing is key. This ensures the fat in the dough firms up, making it easier to slice. The freezer is faster, but it can be refrigerated for up to three days before slicing and baking. This makes it a great make-ahead option, saving you time.
Cut about 1/2-inch-thick slices—you’ll get 24 tasty pinwheels. That’s a lot just out of one pastry sheet! You can easily double the recipe for a larger gathering.
Baking the Pinwheels
The pinwheels will at least double in size, so make sure to space them out with room to expand. The pastry will get golden in color as it bakes, but to give it a deeper hue and shine, brush egg wash on the top and sides—just a small amount is all you need.
To kickstart the cooking process, bake at 400°F. This ensures that the dough will get light and puffy, then brown. Keep a close watch on the color change, it will darken quickly!
The savory aromas from the ham and the herbs fill the room, so I know they won’t last long. Once it cools for a few minutes on the baking sheet, I recommend serving it warm. The edges are super crisp with cheesy centers.
Not a fan of prosciutto? Thinly sliced ham makes a great substitute or use chopped up pieces of precooked bacon sprinkled on top. Shredded aged whited cheddar, gruyere, or smoked gouda are tasty swaps for parmesan cheese.
The good news is you can also roll the filled puff pastry, refrigerate it, and slice it when you’re ready to bake and serve. That way you can enjoy more time with your loved ones, as these pretty pinwheels bubble up and bake. To help you plan:
- Refrigerate the filled and rolled puff pastry for up to three days, then slice and bake.
- Freeze the filled and rolled puff pastry for up to one month, defrost for 30 minutes before slicing.
- Bake the pinwheels, cool them completely, and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Reheat them in a 350°F oven until warm and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
If there are any leftovers, store them in the refrigerator for up to two days, or the freezer for one month. Because there is meat and mayonnaise in the filling, it’s safer to chill them than keep them at room temperature. Just reheat in a 350°F oven until they are crispy for a delicious snack the next day.
More Party Small Bites
Prosciutto and Cheese Puff Pastry Pinwheels
For a convenient swap, use 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried Italian seasoning instead of all the fresh herbs.
1 sheet (8.65 ounces) store-bought puff pastry
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus more for garnish
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
All-purpose flour for rolling the puff pastry
4 slices prosciutto
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Prepare the puff pastry:
Thaw the puff pastry overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, you can thaw it on the counter: Remove the frozen puff pastry from its packaging and defrost it on a baking sheet set on the kitchen counter until cool but pliable, about 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven:
Set the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat it to 400ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
Make the herb spread:
In a small bowl, combine the mustard, mayonnaise, basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary. Set it aside.
Make egg wash:
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water. Set it aside.
Roll out the puff pastry:
Lightly dust your countertop with flour. Gently unfold the defrosted puff pastry on it. If the surface of the puff pastry feels sticky, lightly dust it with flour.
Use a rolling pin to roll the puff pastry into a 12x10-inch rectangle. The long (12-inch) edge should be closest to you.
Fill the puff pastry:
Using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, evenly spread the herb spread over the puff pastry, making sure to leave a 1/2-inch border.
Evenly lay the slices of prosciutto horizontally on top of the herb mixture trying not to overlap them too much. Evenly sprinkle parmesan cheese all over the prosciutto.
Roll the puff pastry:
Brush the top 1/2-inch border with the egg wash to help seal the dough.
Starting at the edge closest to you, tightly roll the filled puff pastry into a jelly roll shape. Tightly cover the roll with plastic wrap and freeze it for 15 minutes or refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
Slice the roll:
Use a serrated knife to slice the roll into 24 pinwheels, about 1/2-inch wide. Arrange 12 pinwheels on each prepared baking sheet cut side-up, at least 1 1/2 inches apart.
Lightly brush the sides and the tops of each pinwheel with the egg wash.
Bake the pinwheels:
Bake the pinwheels, one baking sheet at a time, until golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes.
Bake the second baking sheet.
Garnish with herbs if desired and serve warm or at room temperature.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 6g||7%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||6%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|