Chipotle tomato pie pops, nestled in a bed of caramelised cheddar – handmade buttery, flaky pastry stuffed with an intensely spicy, smoky, tangy, umami filling. And that crispy cheese…
The filling is a very flavourful spicy mix of chipotle in adobo (an incredible vegetarian seasoning), dried tomatoes and fresh coriander. The mature cheddar melts and caramelises into a little crispy nest, oh so cheesy and savoury.
Can I tempt you to a smoky chipotle cheddar nibble?
Makes 10 (snack)
Prep/cook time: 2 hours, plus 2 hours in the fridge
flaky, buttery pastry
- 280g plain flour
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 big pinches sugar
- 220g chilled goat butter, cut into pieces
- 8-9 tbsp ice water
Technique: Credit for this pastry goes to Julia Child, one of my heroes. It’s included in her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a meticulously researched and tested bible that everyone should own. I think it’s a traditional French method of making pastry, but I’ve never come across it anywhere else.
chipotle tomato filling
- 50g dried tomatoes
- 15g fresh coriander
- 50g fresh sourdough, blended to breadcrumbs
- 3-4 chipotle in adobo
- 1 egg
to assemble the pie pops
- 150g mature cheddar, finely grated
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 2-3 tsp nigella seeds
- 10 lolly sticks
for the pastry
- Add all the ingredients to a food processor (except the water) and pulse to blend the fat into the flour – stop when the butter looks like oatmeal flakes.
- Scrape everything into a large mixing bowl and drizzle over most of the water. Mix the dough together with a claw-shaped hand, adding 1-2 more tbsp ice water if needed, then gather it together into a rough ball.
- Tip the rough dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Smear heaped tablespoon-sized pieces across the work surface, spreading the dough about 15cm each time – this blends the fat into the flour, making for flaky, buttery layers.
Technique: This pastry is made with a unique method – smeared across the work surface to blend the fat into the flour, creating beautiful, flaky layers of pastry without the time-consuming folding of puff pastry. It’s the best pastry I’ve ever tried.
- When you have smeared all the dough, gather it all into a ball and knead briefly to make a homogenous dough. Wrap in clingfilm or baking paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.
- When you are ready to roll out, bash the dough all over with a rolling pin to soften it, then roll the pastry about 2mm thick. Keep the surface lightly floured as you work, but don't use loads of flour, it will make the pastry dry and tough.
- Using a 8cm round pastry cutter, stamp out as many rounds as you can. Gather the scraps together and roll out again, stamping out more rounds. Discard any leftovers, the dough will be chewy and overworked at this stage. Chill the pastry rounds while you make the filling.
for the filling
- Cover the dried tomatoes with boiling water and leave to soften for 20 minutes.
- In a food processor, blend the coriander with the breadcrumbs and set aside.
- Put the dried, soaked tomatoes in the food processor (no need to clean) with 6 tbsp soak water and blend to a chunky purée. Blend in the chipotle, lime juice, herby breadcrumbs, egg, 1/2 tsp flaky salt (1/4 tsp fine salt) and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
- Preheat oven to 200°C. To assemble the pie pops, put 1 heaped tsp of filling into the middle of a pastry round, dampen the edge, then cover with another round. Press all around the edge to firmly close the mini pie, then cut the whole thing again with the pastry cutter to tidy the edge. Repeat with the rest of the pastry rounds.
- Heap little piles of grated cheddar onto a baking paper-lined metal tray (about 15g per pie pop) and rest each pie pop in a small heap of grated cheddar. Brush the tops with the egg yolk and sprinkle with nigella seeds.
Technique: It's important to line the baking tray with non-stick paper when cooking crispy cheese – otherwise it will stick firmly to the tray.
- Bake until the pastry is puffed and well browned and the cheese has deeply caramelised, about 20 minutes. Leave to cool, then gently insert the lolly sticks.
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- Make a superlative celebration canapé.
- The uncooked mini pies (minus the grated cheese nest) can be assembled, covered and kept in the fridge for up to 1 day. Uncooked pies can also be frozen.
- Bake from chilled or frozen, adding extra cooking time to account for the colder temperature – the pastry is done when it is puffed and well browned.
- You can store leftovers at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the fridge for up to 3 days, but the crispiness of the cheese may soften.
- Gently rewarm at 160°C for about 5 minutes.
- You can use pretty much anything for the filling, just make sure it isn't too wet and use a similar amount of breadcrumbs to absorb excess moisture.
food styling tips
Use a richly coloured yolk to brush the pastry for a lovely colour – typically eggs from higher welfare chickens with a more varied diet.