Have you ever been invited to something last-minute and didn’t know what to bring? If you’ve got a chance to grab Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets, you’ll have something great to share in no time! I was inspired to make this easy dessert because of my favorite kind of crepe and a school fundraiser. There is a little kiosk in the mountains of Colorado, and it is where I ate my first crepe. It was stuffed with chocolate hazelnut spread and strawberries, a winning combination every time. I was channeling that flavor combo when I dreamt up this party food! We also sold a braided pastry in elementary school as a school fundraiser. I loved watching them rise all day and eating them on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I realized I could get that same beautiful look without having to wait for rising by using Puff Pastry Sheets!
Easily sliced into strips to serve a crowd, this braid is perfect for a a treat that comes together really fast to satisfy a sweet tooth. You can find Puff Pastry sheets in the freezer section of your grocery store – mine was under “Pie Shells.”
Then, it’s best thawed on the counter for 30-40 minutes, although a new method for defrosting in the microwave has been released by the company, and is as follows: Wrap one Puff Pastry sheet (folded) in a paper towel, and microwave on high for 15 seconds. Then turn the pastry sheet over and microwave for another 15 seconds. If it’s not ready, just pop it back in for 5 second intervals until it unfolds without breaking.
I’ve never made my own toasted hazelnuts before, but after today, I guarantee it will not be the last time! You will know that the 5 minutes have done their job when you open the door and can smell the toasty goodness of hazelnuts. Give them a quick chop and they’re ready to be sprinkled directly into the pastry!
As far as folding goes…Do as I say, not as I do…If you can see from my picture, I cut 9 strips on the right and 8 on the left, so I got to the end and had a free-flyer…oops! I definitely have some ideas for braiding looks in the future. I’d love to see what you come up with, too!
The final product is a flaky pastry with a light crisp, mixed in with the perfect bite of melty chocolate, hazelnuts, and sweet strawberries. The strawberries I had were super ripe, and very sweet. It as almost as if they were preserves (that might be a good idea, too!). Puff Pastry Sheets are definitely an easy way to get the gorgeous presentation look you want, and is not as laborious as trying to make your own pastry or crepe. I got all the same flavors as my childhood crepe nostalgia and braid pastries without having to take a trip!
Do you have a childhood treat that stirs up specific memories in your mind?
Chocolate Strawberry Pastry Braid
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread 1 oz. unpeeled hazelnuts on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
- Roast for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, and let cool for a few minutes.
- Vigorously rub between a tea towel to shed the nuts of their peels. (some will still have some, and that is okay)
- Roughly chop hazelnuts and set aside.
- Gently unfold thawed puff pastry and lay flat on parchment paper or silicone mat.
- Lightly roll pastry to heal the folds.
- In the center fold, place pieces of chocolate, and sprinkle strawberries and hazelnuts over the same area.
- Cut strips about 1 inch wide on each side of the chocolate panel, and alternate folding them over the center so that a “braid” look forms.
- Brush with a beaten egg for color.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Sift powdered sugar over the top, if desired.