The fanciest holiday appetizer to share and serve with a glass of champagne. Two sheets of puff pastry, some pesto sauce, that’s all. Delicious, fun and easy.
This is the kind of appetizer the French like to serve for Christmas. Even if we like to serve sophisticated dishes and high-quality goods on that very special meal, we also like to have homemade treats. Festive but still affordable. And this Christmas tree is absolutely perfect for your holiday menu, both tasty and cute. Ideal to welcome the family with a glass of champagne and other appetizers.
If you have kids at home while you prepare this recipe, why don’t you ask them for help? Children will love to make this. It’s a fun holiday activity to do with kids.
Serve warm, as it is right out of the oven, as a whole tree to share. Branches will be as flavored breadsticks to grab.
The French use puff pastry very often and honestly, rarely make it at home. Puff pastry can be used for any sweet or savory dish such as quiche, tart, or galette. There are also many fun ways to use for appetizers. You can impress your guests with many shapes and fillings. The most popular in France is tarte soleil sun tart (have you ever tasted my recipe with pesto rosso and olive tapenade?). I also like to make rolls as on this smoked salmon puff pastry rolls recipe.
How to shape this puff pastry Christmas tree?
Two layers of puff pastry filled with pesto sauce. Make the shape of a tree, cut branches and twist, brush with beaten egg, and bake.
If you’re familiar with sun tarts, then you will very quickly master this recipe as the principle is the same, with a different shape. If not then just follow the step-by-step guidelines explained below. You’ll see it’s super easy. I’ve added photos of each step to make it even easier.
Which puff pastry to choose to form the tree?
Whether your puff pastry is homemade or store-bought, the ideal is to have two rectangular puff pastries. You can always use round pastries but then your tree will be smaller.
Now the steps. I have made step-by-step pictures to guide you.
First, prepare your base
Roll out the first sheet puff pastry on the oven tray or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread a layer of pesto sauce over the entire surface of the pastry. Place the second sheet of puff pastry on top.
Then draw and cut your tree
In the middle of the width, make the shape of the trunk, it should be thick but not too high, then draw the bottom of the lower branch. Remove the two rectangular and place them on another tray covered with parchment paper (you don’t want to throw this away).
Then from the middle of the upper width to each end of the lower branch, cut the shape of the tree and discard the two remaining triangles. You now have the shape of your tree.
Shape the branches
Make strips to form the branches. I used the blade of a paring knife to have uniform strips. Then, as for sun tarts, make several turns of each strip. Try to make nice twists. Three at the bottom for the longer branches, then two or one as you go up to the top of the tree.
Decorate with beaten egg
Press the edges all around so that pesto sauce won’t run away. Whisk an egg. Then with a brush or using your fingertips, coat your tree with egg wash. You may use cream instead.
And optional, the decoration
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, or other seeds.
And use the remaining parts you cut off while making the shape of the tree for any other funny shape: half trees as I did, stars…
Which filling for this Christmas recipe?
My suggestion is to use the classic basil pesto filling. You can spice it up with some paprika, chili flakes, or the French Espelette pepper, but the possibilities are endless.
For savory versions
Pesto rosso is also a good choice, like in my sun tart recipe. You can also have a mix of basil pesto and red pesto, or pesto and olive tapenade. Or a mix of pesto and cream cheese.
Also, try the variations with cheese. Ham – Emmental or reblochon, salmon – cream cheese… Or vegetable sauces: eggplant dip, tomato sauce that is not too runny…
For sweet version
The sweet version is a guaranteed success for children with Nutella or other chocolate spreads in it. You can also use jam or a sugar-cinnamon mix.
Christmas Tree Puff Pastry Festive Holiday Appetizer
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- 150 gr pesto sauce
- 1 egg or cream
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
- Roll out the first puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Cover with a layer of pesto then cover with the second puff pastry.
- With a knife mark then cut the trunk and triangular shape of the tree. Then cut strips as shown in the photos to form branches.
- Make several twists with each branch and press the edges of the trunk and top triangle a bit so the pesto doesn’t run away.
- Whisk the egg and brush the top of the tree with the beaten egg.
- Bake for about 20 minutes at 180°C / 350°F.
Bon appétit !
What to do with leftovers ?
While you shape the tree, there are two small rectangulars and two big triangles left. Don’t throw them away. Place them on another tray covered with parchment paper or on the side of your Christmas tree and make any shape : star, gressin, small tree… This is what I did: