These cheesy broccoli puffs are a perfect snack or starter and make for great appetizer. Crisp pastry, cheesy filling and delicious broccoli? Yes please!
I really love Easter. I love that it’s the time of the year that temperatures cool down for us (after an intense Summer), I love that eating hot cross buns and chocolate all day long is accepted and I love that I get to spend days and days being lazy with my family. As I type this, I’m still in my pajamas, drinking a cup of coffee, pondering if I’ll even be putting on make-up today. Is this the life, or what? I just love weekends where there’s very little on the agenda but spending time with people you love and pottering around the kitchen. And man, did I potter. I baked up a storm this weekend and cooked dishes I’ve been meaning to for ages but never seem to have time for lately.
One of those recipes was this one. I have been dying to make a cheesy broccoli pie-style thingie for ages. If you’ve been reading my blog for long enough you’ll remember that two years ago I made these delectable cauliflower cheese pastries in homage to ready-made pastries I often buy from a supermarket here in South Africa. They were absolutely delectable but I have wanted to make my version of the actual pastries I love so much which contain broccoli in a very soufflé-like sauce, and so finally this weekend, I did. And you guys, they were so damn good. The golden, crisp pastry flakes apart beautifully to unveil they creamy, cheesy broccoli cheese sauce inside. It is just heaven.
The trick to these puff is to make sure the cheese sauce you make is thick. Like, really thick. If it is too runny, eating the puffs will be a disaster. You want to be able to pick these up and eat them as is, without a knife and fork and that’s why it’s quite crucial that you stick to making a thick cheese sauce. It’s also important that you cook the cheese sauce out properly so that it doesn’t contain any of that flouriness but instead is just velvety smooth and perfectly addictive. This is achieved by stirring the (very thick) sauce over medium heat consistently for around 10 minutes.
Thereafter, you take it off the heat, stir in the cheese and steamed broccoli and spoon it into the pastry. I used a small-cup muffin tin for this as I didn’t want the pastries to be too deep but if you don’t have a small-cup muffin tin (pretty much just a 12-hole muffin/cookie/cupcake tray with very shallow holes/cups), you can definitely use a regular muffin tin, just make sure you don’t fill the pastries too much. I cut my ready-rolled sheet of puff pastry into 12 squares and simply placed them in the holes, ready to be filled. I then folded the filled pastry closed (as you’ll see in the photo) and brushed with egg wash. They went into the oven and came out golden, crisp and too good to be true.
These delectable pastries are a fantastic snack and make for a great addition to a tea table but they’re also great served with a salad for a light dinner. And confession: I ate one too days later, warmed up, and it was still just as delicious. They are great in every way but then again, when is anything wrapped in pastry not?
- 2 heaped tablespoons butter
- 4 heaped tablespoons flour
- 1½-2 cups milk
- 1 cup grated mature cheddar cheese
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 small head broccoli, cut into florets and steamed until al dente
- 1 roll ready-made puff pastry, cut into 12 squares
- 1 egg, beaten
- To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour.
- Stir for a minute over medium heat then slowly whisk in the milk. The sauce needs to be very thick (but still creamy) in consistency so you might not need all the milk.
- When the sauce is smooth, creamy and thick, turn the heat down and cook the sauce out for approximately 7-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce is velvety smooth and all flouriness has been cooked out.
- When the sauce is cooked, remove from the heat then add the cheese, steamed broccoli, cayenne pepper and seasoning and stir to combine. Cover the surface of the sauce with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming then set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
- Place the pastries in the holes of a shallow muffin tin, pressing down properly.
- Spoon in the broccoli filling then fold over the edges of the pastry.
- Brush with the beaten egg and place in the oven.
- Allow the pastries to bake for 20-25 minutes until they pastry is golden, crisp and cooked through.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.