This recipe comes from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris - I find all of her recipes are foolproof! You can use my instructions or view hers online. She talks about encountering them at an event, and bemoans the fact that though meant as appetizers, they can ruin your appetite. So true, but that makes them even better for pure appetizer events. They do well served alongside fruit and cheese trays, or "pot luck" appetizer events. I find myself reaching for a basket or bowl to serve them, while Ina said she encountered them piled high like a log house. That can be impressive - but you can only pray people will take from the top of the pile, rather than risk some Jenga game maneuver. Measuring in at about 10" long, I suppose one might say they are not very dainty - make them shorter if that's your preference.

I cannot imagine having to make puff pastry from scratch. Even having to roll out a block of puff seems a nuisance. Now that you can purchase puff pastry in sheets (I use PC Brand), I find myself reaching for it often for savoury and sweet treats. I always make these "day of" and not the day before - but day before prep enables you to make this magic happen quickly. From a two-sheet package of puff pastry you will get 22-24 straws.

Getting Ready:

  • remove puff pastry from the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge overnight
  • bring egg to room temperature
  • grate cheeses (even the day before); mix the cheeses together and divide them into equal portions
  • mince the fresh thyme leaves
  • line two bake sheets with parchment
  • measuring tool
  • preheat oven to 375 F

2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator

flour for dusting

Puff pastry needs to be kept cold (see Notes below) so I do one sheet at a time, working on the first, leaving the second in the fridge. While the first is in the oven I prep the second.

Ina talks about rolling the pastry out to 10" x 12" on a lightly floured board. I find the PC Puff is already about 10" x 11" so it needs only a wee bit of light rolling to bring the long side to 12".

1 extra-large egg
1 TB water

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup finely grated gruyere cheese
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Beat the egg with the water, and brush the the surface of the pastry.

Sprinkle the sheet with half of everything - half the cheeses (I like to mix them together ahead of time to ensure even distribution); half the thyme, salt and some pepper.

Use the rolling pin to lightly press all this into the pastry. Use your measuring tool to help you create 10-12 one-inch strips. Lay them on the lined bake sheets, giving each a few twists. Prep the second sheet while the first is baking.

  • Bake for 10-15 minutes until they are puffed and lightly brown. Turn each straw over and bake for another 2 minutes - and perhaps even an additional 1-2 minutes if you'd like them to be more golden. (Much depends upon your oven performance.) Ina warns to not over-bake these or the cheese will burn. They can burn quickly in this last few minutes, so be vigilant and take care not be distracted. Cool and serve. 

Notes and Tips...

  • Puff pastry - for optimal results whenever using puff pastry, work quickly since it should be cold going into the oven; worse case, whatever you are making can be refrigerated briefly before being baked. For this recipe, I find I manage to be quick enough to avoid that refrigeration step. The flip side of this is that you could prepare these on bake sheets and leave them refrigerated, baking them off about an hour before guests arrive.
  • Variations - Ina suggests variations such as brushing the pastry with pesto, tapenade or sun-dried tomato paste instead of sprinkling with cheeses. let me know if you have other ideas!
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