Inviting some pals over to hang out can quickly turn stressful when you realize they’re going to expect some food. Before you reach for your phone to order delivery, take a few deep breaths. Homemade eats don’t have to be difficult. With original recipes from our Everyday Appetizers series, you can pull off showstopping starters without losing your cool.
We all have a friend who manages to pull off dinner parties or casual get-togethers seamlessly. Everything from the food to the drinks to the playlist is perfect every time, which can make you feel more than a bit intimidated when it’s your turn to entertain. In truth, your pal is harboring a secret: They cheat, often with the culinary creations. Today’s cheese and fruit tart takes a leaf out of their book.
About this recipe
If you choose one ingredient to cheat with, make it frozen puff pastry. This prepared dough is the secret to many appetizers you see at parties, and it’s what makes this cheese plate-inspired tart so easy. Many of the best cheese platters include a great cheddar and some sliced fruit, so we just translated it to a flaky crust. It makes for a more interesting appetizer that can also double as dessert.
When choosing cheese, go for something aged. While it doesn’t melt as well as a younger dairy, you’re looking more for flavor than the gooiness you would want in a grilled cheese. This a great opportunity to take advantage of the folks who work behind the cheese counter. They’ll be happy to answer questions and offer samples to help you find the perfect one.
For the fruit, we went with a combination of apple and pear, which both go wonderfully with cheddar. You can also feel free to use just one type of fruit. And don’t worry if your specimens are less than perfect because they’ll become perfectly sweet and tender once baked. You’re actually better off using a slightly underripe pear since a particularly juicy one will release too much moisture.
To build the tart, start with the pastry. We use a really cool method of scoring the edges and poking holes in the center, which creates a raised crust in a matter of seconds. Next, we added a thin slick of mayonnaise to the center of the dough. It seems strange, but it gives this tart just enough moisture and helps glue down the fillings.
Next comes the cheese, then the fruit. Feel free to be as fancy or lazy with the apples and pears as you want. The only real rule is to leave the scored edges exposed so they rise when baking. A final sprinkling of thyme tilts this appetizer a bit more to the savory side. Now all that’s left is baking, eating, and enjoying the compliments.
Cheddar, Apple, and Pear Tart
If you plan to make this tart for your friends (and you should), transfer the pastry to the fridge the night before. You need the dough to be fully thawed but still cold, so it’s not a nightmare to handle. This tart can easily serve 6.
- ½ (17.3-ounce) box frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 4 teaspoons mayonnaise
- ¾ cup cup shredded aged cheddar cheese
- ½ small apple, thinly sliced
- ½ small pear, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer puff pastry to a baking tray. Using a small, sharp knife, score a ½-inch border around edge on all sides to create a crust. Using the tines of a fork, prick center rectangle all over.
Evenly spread mayonnaise over inner rectangle, leaving border exposed. Season entire surface with salt. Evenly sprinkle cheese over mayonnaise, then shingle fruit over top, leaving border exposed. Season with salt and scatter thyme leaves over top.
Bake until crust is deeply golden and fruit is tender, about 18 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let tart cool for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.