I feel like cheese is the most wonderful accompaniment to Christmas.
And when it’s all melty and paired with something sweet or fruity, it’s even better. Think cheddar with chutney or manchego with quince.
I’ve always thought that a good strong brie and cranberry sauce made the perfect pair in a sandwich, especially with turkey or bacon around Christmas time, but I actually often use lingonberry jam in place of the cranberry. If you’re not sure what lingonberries are, they’re a small red berry found primarily in Northern Europe (think Sweden, Finland etc) and they have a sour taste much like a cranberry. They’re normally sweetened slightly to be nicer to eat, so eating them in a jam means that you get a sweet but tart flavour. It’s wonderful.
I always pick up a jar of lingonberry jam when I go to Ikea; it’s like a pantry staple for me. It’s not only great with cheese, it’s also amazing with meat, potatoes, chocolate and even in a sandwich with peanut butter. It’s super versatile.
I really wanted to make a recipe for Christmas with both cheese and lingonberry, but I really couldn’t decide what I wanted to do! However, I ended up being inspired by Nigel Slater’s Stilton Puffs recipe and put my ingredients in pastry, like a little sausage roll, and baked them in the oven.
Hot, melty cheese, sweet and tart lingonberry, golden crisp puff pastry and a little sprinkle of good salt. All the textures and all the flavours in one bite.
I already knew that lingonberry jam went well with both brie and extra mature cheddar, but I tried the recipe out with a few others, like a hard Dutch goats cheese and a nutty manchego. The hard goat’s cheese had a great strong flavour that balanced perfectly with sweet jam and although the manchego isn’t a melty cheese, I did enjoy it’s salty contrast. I definitely think that a mature cheddar would be my overall pick, but a brie would probably be an easy pleaser if you’re serving it up at a party for all ages and flavour palates. In Peru, I would definitely give this recipe a go with ‘queso paria’ as the saltiness of the cheese would be a great match for the jam, although I haven’t given this a go myself just yet!
If you can’t get lingonberry jam where you live, then definitely try this with cranberry sauce instead, and do make sure you have a cheese that isn’t too mild or you really won’t taste it.
These are perfect for Christmas parties, a Christmas Eve snack, easy-peasy Christmas Day canapés or you could even do them for New Year instead.
One sheet of puff pastry (Peru – I used the ready rolled ‘masa hojaldre’ which seems to be able to be used in place of both puff and flaky pastry here as there’s no other option. It’s not great pastry, but it’s all there is)
A sprinkle of flour
Cheese (not super mild, you need a strong flavour here for balance), sliced into small rectangles – maybe 2.5cm x 1.5cm (and however thick you can make it while still being able to close the pastry parcel!)
24 generous 1/2 teaspoons of lingonberry jam (or cranberry if you can’t get this)
1 beaten egg
A sprinkle of Sal de Maras or Maldon sea salt
1. Preheat your oven to 200C (fan) and line your baking tray with baking parchment.
2. On a flat surface sprinkle a little flour so that your pastry doesn’t stick and slice your pastry sheet into 24 equal-ish rectangles. My sheet came ready rolled at 30cm x 35cm and it’s not one that’s really possible to re-roll, so I couldn’t change the thickness (it was about 1mm thick), but if you prefer the pastry a little thicker then feel free.
3. Pop your generous 1/2 a teaspoon of lingonberry jam towards one end of the pastry rectangle and top with your rectangle of cheese.
4. Put a little egg around the edges of the pastry, fold over the pastry so one edge meets the other, and seal the edges as best you can with a fork. You will get a little spillage, but it’s all good!
5. Put them onto the prepared baking tray, give them another little brush with the egg wash and prick the top of each one with a fork to let the steam out.
6. Sprinkle with good salt and then put them in the oven for 10-15 minutes (my oven cooked them in about 12-13 mins). They will definitely explode out the sides but who doesn’t love that?
7. Remove and leave to cool a tiny bit before diving in!