I love pastry. Flaky, golden, crispy pastry. I also love sharp, tangy, fresh, crumbly goats cheese. I recently had both of those in the fridge at the same time, so I decided to combine them to make a little snack. Who doesn’t find they need a little pick-me-up after work, while they make dinner? And who secretly wishes it could be smothered in beautiful cheese?
So I decided to make some herby goats cheese twists, to keep in a Tupperware box and slowly and carefully polish off over the course of a week. Let it be on record that this was my intention. I made 20 twists for the two of us to share over the course of a week. That’s plenty, I thought. Besides, both cheese *and* pastry are filling so we’re hardly going to want to stuff our faces before our lovely dinners, right?
They were gone in 2 days. Did I mention these things are damn good? Well, they are. Damn. Good. Make double. Freeze half if you have some restraint. If not, just go nuts, no one will know.
1 cup soft goat cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 packages frozen puff pastry defrosted but still quite firm
Egg wash made by beating 1 large egg with 2 tbsp water
340g pack of ready-made puff pastry, defrosted but cold and firm. (Take them out of the freezer, leave in the fridge for a day to get rid of any ice/water, and that’s plenty of time.)
1 handful finely grated Parmesan (or grana padano if it’s the end of the month and you’re itching for payday!)
60g soft goat’s cheese – this can be a mix of French, Danish and Welsh goats cheese. Ask your supermarket’s deli, or your favourite deli, for recommendations of light, tangy, sharp soft goats cheese.
Optional: small handful of sharp, extra-mature cheddar cheese, grated. This should give a nice contrast in texture to the soft goats cheese, so feel free to even use a matured, hard goats cheese.
2 tsp dried oregano
Small handful of fresh oregano and thyme
1-2 tsp paprika or chilli powder
Fresh black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with paper.
Mix the goats cheeses, seasoning and herbs together in a bowl, until it’s soft and whipped thoroughly. It should be very easily spreadable and as light as you can make it.
Roll out the puff pastry to about half its thickness, so it’s longer and wider. Cut it in half widthwise.
Using a butter knife or a sandwich spreader, spread the goats cheese-herb mixture over half the pastry, going all the way to the edges.
Sprinkle the hard cheese, if using, over the soft goats cheese, and ensure it’s evenly spaced.
Carefully place the other half of the pastry on top of the half with the cheese on it, and press down with your fingers on the edges.
Place on a tray or chopping board and put it in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes to allow the pastry to firm up some more and allow the cheese to set a little more.
Remove from the fridge and using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, slice the pastry into ribbons roughly 1 inch-wide.
Holding the ribbons on either side, carefully twist it roughly 3-4 times and place on the baking tray. You can also do this by holding one end on the counter and twisting the other. Arrange the twists on the baking tray so there’s a bit of space between them so they don’t stick.
You can brush the twists with an egg wash if you like – 1 egg, beaten with 2 tsp water. Return to the fridge for roughly 10 minutes, then remove and put it straight in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until they look beautiful, your kitchen smells like a dream and you can take the suspense no longer.
Remove, wait until they’ve cooled enough to handle and devour. Enjoy!