RECIPES: Wow holiday guests with these pastry treats

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

When planning for holiday gatherings, it helps to think like a pastry chef. What can I make in quantities large enough to serve a crowd? How can I get most, if not all, of the work done ahead of time? And most importantly, what will be delicious?

To gather ideas, we turned to Ashley Thomas and Morgan Perkins, co-owners of Atlanta-based Galette, makers of small-batch pastries they sell at local farmers markets.

Galette started with a limited menu of galettes, cookies, muffins and doughnuts. “It was a menu of things we could make and prep quickly since we were paying by the hour for the kitchen space,” said Thomas. During the pandemic, they acquired a cottage food license so they could bake in Thomas’ home.

Now with a kitchen basically available 24/7, they offer sourdough croissants plain or filled with pistachio or almond cream, or chocolate. They still offer both sweet and savory galettes and cookies and make such items as Bakewell hand pies, a market favorite. “We have a base of things we always offer but we like having a space to play,” said Perkins. “It’s important to us to have the opportunity to be creative outside of our basic large-scale production by making things like our cruffins or entremets.”

Large scale means going through 50 pounds of butter a week to turn out between two and five dozen sweet galettes, 18 to 30 savory galettes, four to six dozen croissants, and more. “Ashley and I split the stuff. I do the doughs; she makes more of the fillings and creams,” said Perkins. “And we’re up early, starting out baking around midnight or 1 a.m. We’re not baking things two days in advance. We want everybody to have the best possible croissant, for example, so we bake it early in the morning before we take it to market.”

ExploreRECIPES: Make-ahead dishes for your holiday cocktail party

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

When thinking about holiday baking that could be prepped or even baked ahead, they had three suggestions: sables, sticky toffee pudding bites and gougeres.

Their Cheddar Black Pepper Sables are “nice, crumbly, herby savory cheese coins that are perfect for parties,” said Thomas.

Their Sticky Toffee Pudding Bites give a nod to “The Great British Bake Off” and British steamed puddings.

“These feel very festive for the holidays,” said Perkins, “but they’re easy, flavor-packed and can be done ahead of time. A full serving of sticky toffee pudding is so rich, really too much, but these bites are just right.”

The gougeres are made with a choux dough, which is the basis for eclairs, cream puffs and profiteroles. “They are made with good shredded cheese, and black pepper and mustard powder to give it some interest. They sound so fancy, but they’re surprisingly easy to make,” said Thomas.

RECIPES

Ashley Thomas and Morgan Perkins, co-owners of Galette, offer three recipes that can be prepped ahead of time and baked the day of, or right before, your holiday gathering. Note that they use Diamond Crystal kosher salt. If you use Morton’s kosher salt, cut the quantity to about 3/4 of what is in the recipes, and if you use table salt, cut the quantity in half.

Explore18 new cookbooks for the baking season

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Cheddar Black Pepper Sables

Make ahead: These sables can be made ahead of time and stored for up to 5 days. Or if you would like to bake on the day of your party, prepare the dough ahead of time and freeze until firm, storing for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, thaw dough just enough to be sliceable and proceed to bake as directed.

Do not use pre-shredded cheese in this recipe because of the starch used in processed shredded cheese. If you don’t have Piment d’Espelette, substitute sweet smoked paprika with a dash of cayenne.

If you want to make this into a more substantial bite, serve with cream cheese or chevre and pepper jelly or tomato jam.

Rosemary Salt

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Sticky Toffee Pudding Bites

Make ahead: Bake the bites, allow them to cool and freeze them in a covered container or food-safe plastic bag. When ready to serve, arrange the frozen bites on a parchment-lined baking sheet and heat in a 350-degree oven until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

No coffee extract? Brew some strong coffee and use that to soak the dates instead of using hot water and coffee extract.

If you only have one mini-muffin pan, bake half the batter, then allow the pan to cool, wipe out, grease the pan and bake the rest. And if you have no mini-muffin pans, bake the batter in a rimmed baking sheet until just done in the center, about 25 minutes, allow to cool, and cut into 1-inch squares.

Sticky Toffee Sauce

Make ahead: Make the sauce and cool completely, then store in a covered jar in the refrigerator. When ready to use, warm in a small saucepan.

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Gougeres

Make ahead: Bake, cool and freeze gougeres on a baking sheet. When frozen, move to a food-safe plastic bag. To refresh, heat oven to 350 degrees, arrange puffs on a baking sheet and bake until heated through, about 5 minutes. If you prefer, you can freeze the puffs before baking by forming them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freezing. Once frozen through, store in a food-safe plastic bag. When ready to bake, arrange frozen puffs on a baking sheet and follow directions in recipe, allowing 2 or 3 more minutes of baking time.

These puffs are delightful fresh from the oven. If you bake ahead, freeze and then warm before serving, the center will not have the original creamy texture but will be perfect filled with a wedge of apple and slice of brie or with a piped filling of whipped goat cheese.

Thomas and Perkins say do not use pre-shredded cheese in this recipe.

ExploreThe ultimate guide to metro Atlanta food halls

Sign up for the AJC Food and Dining Newsletter

Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following @ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.