Is there anything more festive for a holiday party than a whimsical Christmas Tree Puff Pastry? Our version is stuffed with a simple but infinitely flavorful almond and cream cheese paste, tangy raspberry jam and just enough powdered sugar to satisfy even the most discerning palate.
After becoming completely enamored with this fun little holiday appetizer on Instagram I found myself dying to create my own version immediately. By nature I am not a girl who has a typical sweet tooth. My favorite dessert is an extra helping of cheese, bread or pasta HOWEVER when it comes to virtually anything almond I am at the Lord’s mercy. I find desserts laced with almond lack the cloyingly sweet taste I find to be unappleaing about many other desserts. So! My version of a sweet Christmas Tree Puff Pastry appetizer involves a slathering of cream cheese and almond paste, a restrained dollop of raspberry jam all enveloped in a crunch, chewy puff pastry oblivion. Perfect for Christmas morning, brunch or served as a dessert at your next gathering, this is not a recipe you want to sleep on.
Let’s get started!
Ingredients in our Puff Pastry Christmas Tree
Puff Pastry. Gosh how I love puff pastry. I use it countless way thrhoughout the year but I find myself gravitating towards it even more during the holiday season. This time of year you can find very affordable puff pastry sheets at Trader Joe’s but any other time of year, I prefer to use this brand.
Almond paste. This is what I used. Almond paste is such a fun ingredient to use in baking but it typically needs some additional ingredients to reach its full potential.
Powdered sugar. Almond does have some sweetness to it but we amp it up a bit more with powdered sugar.
Butter. Unsalted room temp butter is the name of the game here.
Cream cheese. Cream cheese and almond belong together. I almost always use low-fat cream cheese especially when mixed with other ingredients.
Raspberry jam. You could use any jam you like but I find the combo of cream cheese, almond and raspberry to be classic and irresistible.
Egg. You’ll need one egg to make the top of the puff pastry Christmas tree extra shiny and beautiful.
How to Make a Puff Pastry Christmas Tree
Thaw the dough. Most puff pastry comes frozen so be sure to leave time for it to thaw. If i remember, I pop it in the fridge the night before to slowly defrost.
Make the filling. Add the almond paste, softened butter, softened cream cheese and powdered sugar to a mixer fit with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high until smooth.
Fill the pastry! Place one of the rectangular puff pastry sheets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Turn it so the pan and pastry are vertical. Spread the almond filling all over puff pastry. I like to use an offset spatula here. Dollop teaspoons of jam all over the filling. Gently use your spatula to spread the jam all over the almond mixture.
Assemble. Lay the second piece of puff pastry on top of the bottom pastry, almond filling and jam.
Chill. There is a lot of filling in our puff pastry christmas tree and we don’t want any filling to spill out so be sure to chill it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to solidify the filling again. This will make less mess and you will thank me later.
Slice. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut two one-inch vertical slits three inches apart at the bottom of the middle of the pastry. (The photos will come in handy here!) Cut across to make the “stump” of the tree. Save the sides to bake alongside the tree.
Use the same knife to trace a diagonal line from the middle top of the pastry to the left bottom corner. Repeat on the other side but take the diagonal to the right bottom corner. Use small cookie cutters to make shapes from the scrapes on the sides. Remove the scraps.
Use the same knife or a pizza cutter to slice horizontal lines 3/4-inch wide to make the “branches” of the tree. Make sure to leave one-inch “trunk” in the middle. Repeat on the other side.
Twist! Take the “branches” of the tree and twist them under. Repeat for all branches.
Bake. Brush the top with egg wash. Pop in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
Enjoy! The beauty of this guy is its delicious cold or warm so make it ahead of time and relax.
- Use any jam. Apricot, fig or cranberry would be lovely this time of year.
- For extra sweetness, drizzle the top of the pastry after baking with an easy glaze (powdered sugar mixed with a little milk) and sliced almonds.
Can I make this in advance?
100%. You can make the whole thing in advance from start to finish the morning of or the day before. It will still be super crispy and delicious the next day. Store on the baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. My favorite option is to make the whole thing from start to finish but stop just before baking. Cover the uncooked puff pastry Christmas tree with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.
Do I have to use Puff Pastry?
Unfortunately I have not tried this yet with anything else but I imagine a sheet of crescent roll dough similar to what we use in these Cinnamon Rolls will work great as well.
Tips and Tricks
- Chill the pastry before cutting. If you don’t do this, you will have a mess on your hands.
- For tree prefection use a ruler to make sure your lines are straight. I don’t need perfection so I did not do this.
- The small cut outs on the side will cook faster than the pastry. Check at 10 minutes and remove any of the scraps that are already brown.
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- 8 oz almond paste
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- 6 oz cream cheese, softened
- 9 tsp raspberry jam
- 1 large egg + 1 tbsp water
- 1 Large baking sheet
- 1 standing mixer
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add almonds paste, softened butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar to a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Beat the mixture until smooth.
- Lay one sheet of puff pastry on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the almond mixture all over the puff pastry sheet. Dollop the jam a teaspoon at a time over the almond mixture. Gently spread to cover the almond. Cover with second piece of puff pastry. Chill in the freezer for 7-8 minutes until the filling is firm.
- Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut two 1-inch vertical slits 3-inches apart at the bottom of the middle of the pastry. Cut across to make the "stump" of the tree. Save the sides to bake alongside the tree.
- Use the same knife to trace a diagnal line from the middle top of the pastry to the left bottom corner. Repeat on the other side but take the diagnol to the right bottom corner. Use small cookie cutters (I like stars, snowflakes and ornaments) to make shapes from the scrapes on the sides. Remove the scraps and reserve the fun shapes.
- Use the same knife or a pizza cutter to slice horizontal lines 3/4-inch wide to make the "branches" of the tree. Make sure to leave 1a inch "trunk" in the middle. Repeat on the other side
- Take the "branches" of the tree and twist them one or two times. Repeat for all branches.
- Mix the egg and 1 tablespoon of water together in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to coat the top of the pastry with egg wash. Place in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Check the oven at 10 minutes to see if the scrape pieces have finished cooking, the will brown faster than the Christmas tree.
- Serve warm or room temperature.