If you've ever made puff pastry from scratch, you know how difficult it can be -- there are layers and layers of butter sandwiched between sheets of dough that you have to keep rolling in different directions to get just right, otherwise the pastry won't rise or bake properly. But forget about all of that, because the frozen puff pastry you buy in the supermarket is just as good -- it's a blessing for chefs and home cooks because it cuts down on time and even frustration.
There are many ways you can use puff pastry in the kitchen -- it's not just for fancy French desserts like vol-au-vent. Puff pastry can be used in place of regular (shortcrust) pastry doughs in sweet tarts, savory tarts, quiches and pot pies. You can also create bakery-quality treats like palmier and cheese straws that will have everyone thinking you're an expert baker. Don't knock frozen puff pastry until you've tried it -- you'll see how much your baking will benefit. See the slideshow of recipes below for ideas.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/tomato-tartlets_n_1058757.html" target="_hplink">Tomato Tartlets recipe</a></strong> <br> This savory tart calls out for attention with its studding of cherry tomato halves on top of a crisp puff pastry layer that's spread with creamy fresh ricotta. Cut the tart into individual squares for a party appetizer.
Easy Cherry Strudels
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/easy-cherry-strudels_n_1061424.html" target="_hplink">Easy Cherry Strudels recipe</a></strong> <br> Instead of creating one large strudel, this recipe calls for making individual-size pastries -- it's easy when you use puff pastry. The filling is made with fresh cherries and dried cranberries.
Chicken Sausage And Swiss Chard Pie
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/chicken-sausage-and-swiss_n_1057664.html" target="_hplink">Chicken Sausage and Swiss Chard Pie recipe</a></strong> <br> This pot pie may look lik it's meant for winter comfort, but it's very summery -- it's filled with grilled sausages, blanched Swiss chard and an onion-leek sauce. The puff pastry topping is the finishing touch. Serve with tomato chutney.
Brandied Caramel Apple Tart
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/brandied-caramel-apple-ta_n_1060890.html" target="_hplink">Brandied Caramel Apple Tart recipe</a></strong> <br> This tart looks very impressive, but no one will ever know how easy it is to make unless you tell them. Puff pastry serves as the base, which is topped with a brandy-spiked caramel applesauce and fresh apple slices. Brush with melted apple jelly after baking to make it shine.
Cheddar Pepper Palmier
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/cheddar-pepper-palmiers_n_1059265.html" target="_hplink">Cheddar Pepper Palmier recipe</a></strong> <br> Puff pastry, rolled out into a rectangle and then rolled up from the sides like a scroll, create these palmier cookies, which are savory instead of sweet. Cheddar cheese and black pepper are incorporated into the dough with the initial roll.
Caramelized Fennel Tarts
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/caramelized-fennel-tarts_n_1061390.html" target="_hplink">Caramelized Fennel Tarts recipe</a></strong> <br> Puff pastry isn't just for sweet tarts. This savory version has a caramelized fennel topping that's enhanced with fresh thyme. Serve the tart cut into squares for an appetizer or cut into wedges for lunch with a salad.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/cranberry-currant-tart_n_1056804.html" target="_hplink">Cranberry-Currant Tart recipe</a></strong> <br> Cranberries don't need to be in season for you to make this tart -- the recipe uses dried cranberries and dried currants, but feel free to use raisins if you prefer. The filling gets encased in two layers of puff pastry to create a rustic-style dessert.
Spinach And Feta Quiche
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/spinach-and-feta-quiche_n_1057662.html" target="_hplink">Spinach and Feta Quiche recipe</a></strong> <br> This quiche features a puff pastry base, which bakes up so much more flaky and buttery than your standard pie crust. The spinach and feta filling is rich and creamy from cream and eggs.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/chicken-empanadas_n_1059290.html" target="_hplink">Chicken Empanadas recipe</a></strong> <br> Puff pastry isn't just for French-style dishes, case in point is this version of the South American empanada. The flaky puff pastry pockets are filled with chicken, green chiles, sauteed onion and spices.
Apple Tart Tatins With Cheese-Baked Pastry And Sticky Caramel
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/apple-tart-tatins-with-ch_n_1057675.html" target="_hplink">Apple Tart Tatins with Cheese-Baked Pastry and Sticky Caramel recipe</a></strong> <br> These apple desserts are made all the more creative when you use puff pastry. Rounds of cheese-flecked dough encase apple halves, which are baked over a layer of caramel.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/proscuitto-asiago-cheese-_n_1057089.html" target="_hplink">Prosciutto-Asiago Cheese Straws recipe</a></strong> <br> It's easy to make gourmet-style cheese straws at home when you use puff pastry. This recipe has the prosciutto and cheese layered between two sheets of puff pastry that's then sliced and twisted before baking.
Chicken Pot Pie In A Blanket Of Puff Pastry
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/chicken-pot-pie-in-a-blan_n_1061344.html" target="_hplink">Chicken Pot Pie in a Blanket of Puff Pastry recipe</a></strong> <br> Don't spend all your time making pastry to top this classic chicken pot pie. Instead use frozen puff pastry, thawed and rolled into a rectangle.
Puff Pastry Tomato Tarts
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/puff-pastry-tomato-tarts_n_1058631.html" target="_hplink">Puff Pastry Tomato Tarts recipe</a></strong> <br> Fresh garden tomatoes really shine in these personal tarts, which are made of individual rounds of puff pastry. A bit of butter and Parmesan cheese are all you need to flavor them. Garnish with torn basil.
New Beef Wellington
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/new-wellington_n_1055151.html" target="_hplink">New Beef Wellington recipe</a></strong> <br> A classic beef Wellington calls for wrapping an entire tenderloin in pastry and then baking it, but this recipe cuts out those difficult steps. The beef and the puff pastry are prepared separately and brought together for serving -- so there's never any soggy pastry.
WATCH: How To Make Puff Pastry With Curtis Stone
Curtis Stone explains why it's not worth making puff pastry at home when you can use the readymade doughs.