Puff Pastry Tree with Cosmic Crisp® Apple-Walnut Filling

Ingredients

  • 3 Cosmic Crisp® apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • ⅓ cup apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry* (Dufour brand), thawed or 4 sheets if using Pepperidge Farm brand
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon sparkling sugar

Directions

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

 

This recipe is a stunner on the holiday table…and it tastes like apple strudel fresh out of the oven. It is fairly easy to make, even for novice bakers. You definitely want to pull this out of the oven right as your guests arrive. They will devour this in minutes. The apple filling can be made one day in advance to save some time. See the note below about the kind of puff pastry to use. For the star cutouts, you will need one 2-inch star cookie cutter and one 1-inch cookie cutter.

  1. Place the Cosmic Crisp® apples, apple juice, brown sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir to fully coat the apples with the spiced liquid. Bring to a boil, about 2 minutes. Stir again, then reduce the heat to medium and cover slightly. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender. Remove from the heat and let cool 20-30 minutes. Mash with a fork or potato masher. For a finer consistency, blend for 15 seconds with an immersion blender or personal blender.
  2. Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F.
  3. Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of a standard baking sheet. Set aside.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, gently roll out the puff pastry sheets to 10-inch-by-14-inch rectangles. Place one pastry sheet on the parchment. Align the second pastry sheet on top.
  5. With a chef’s knife, cut the pastry into a tree starting with a 2-inch wide by 1½-inch tall trunk at the base. Using a straight edge, cut from the center of the top down to the bottom corner of each side to form a tree. Carefully pull the pastry trimmings away to reveal the tree and set aside (do not discard). Gently lift the top pastry and set aside.
  6. Spread ¾ cup of the apple mixture onto the pastry with the back of a kitchen spoon or offset spatula. Evenly sprinkle the walnuts on top. Place the top pastry on top of the bottom.
  7. With the knife, lightly score (don’t cut all the way through the pastry) two lines down the middle of the tree to the trunk, about 3/8-inch away from the center.

  8. Using the scored lines as a guide, cut the branches 1-inch wide starting at the bottom of the tree.

  9. Twist the branches away from you two times and gently press the ends down onto the baking sheet.

  10. With star cookie cutters, cut out one 2-inch star and 7 to 8 1-inch stars from the pastry trimmings. Discard the remaining pastry. Place the larger star at the top of the tree. Arrange the smaller stars
    down the center of the tree as you’d like.

  11. Brush the entire tree with the egg wash. Sprinkle on the sparkling sugar.

  12. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is a medium golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the sheet pan. Transfer on the parchment to a large cutting board or platter. Serve with the remaining applesauce as a dip.

 

*DuFour brand puff pastry is preferable because it is the ideal size for this recipe. If using Pepperidge Farm or similar brand, gently brush a little water on the top third of one pastry sheet and place the top third of the second sheet onto the moistened pastry. Use a rolling pin to seam the sheets together. Roll out to form one 10-inch-by-14-inch puff pastry sheet. You will need to do this two times to form the two pastry sheets needed for this bake.

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