Pesto Chicken Cheesy Tarte Soleil. Baked brie or camembert and pesto-loaded ground chicken are baked in puff pastry to create this pull-apart party appetizer.
It’s December 20th today– do you know what that means? Sure, yeah, Christmas is only 5 days away, (oh wow, typing that makes it so much more real), but more importantly*, it’s the beginning of appetizer season, my friends. The actual most wonderful time of the year.
*Okay, not more importantly. But pretty importantly.
First we’ve got Christmas Eve, which serves an excuse for my family to unhinge our jaws and swallow an entire buffet table full of dumplings and deviled eggs and dips within the span of a few hours. Then there’s New Years Eve, which isn’t complete without a nice spread of finger foods to go with those glasses of champagne. Then there are football playoff games, which I tend to use as an excuse to have friends over and make every cheesy concoction I can conjure up, and then THE SUPER BOWL, which, I mean, does it really need any explanation? The football game isn’t even as important as the appetizers on Super Bowl Sunday.
You know what I’m planning to make for all of those days? This Pesto Chicken Cheesy Tarte Soleil. The flaky, golden puff pastry; the buttery melted cheese; the basil and garlic flavored chicken pull-aparts… it’s just as lusciously delicious as it is easy to make as it is perfectly presentable. And I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty much the prettiest. Let’s ooh and ahh over it for a second.
Okay, moving on.
WHAT’S A TARTE SOLEIL?
“Tarte Soleil” is French for “Sun Pie”. Can you guess how it got that name?
Usually, tartes soleil are made so that they have thin, twisted, breadstick-like rays with a thin layer of paste such as tapenade or chocolate hazelnut spread between the sheets of puff pastry. But sometimes, they’re like this Pesto Chicken Cheesy Tarte Soleil, with a thick filling of meat or spinach, sliced and turned to create more of the corona-style sunbeams.
(Did you know that it’s called a corona when the sun has that sort of aura? Corona means crown in Latin, which makes sense because it looks like a crown that goes around the sun!)
Typically, the corona-style tartes also have a big mound of filling in the middle to create the center circle of the sun. But I thought to myself, Wouldn’t it be so fun to put some gooey cheese there instead for dipping? The answer is yes. Obviously.
WHAT KIND OF CHEESE SHOULD I BAKE IN THE PUFF PASTRY?
Soft-ripened, creamy cheeses such as Brie or Camembert are best to use here. They’re mildly flavored, melt to a smooth texture, and are held in by a rind so they don’t ooze out from the seams of your puff pastry.
I’ve tried both Brie and Camembert for this Pesto Chicken Cheesy Tarte Soleil, and both were great. However, if you can find Triple Cream Brie, I’d suggest that above all others. It melts the nicest of all of them, and is the least likely to clump or separate.
HOW DO I MAKE THE FILLING?
In order to get the best-textured filling that wouldn’t fall apart or overcook, I decided to make a sort of meatball mixture to use as the dippers. You can get creative here if you’d like, but I loved the combination of pesto-flavored chicken with the light puff pastry and creamy cheese.
To make the filling, simply mix together ground chicken, prepared pesto, extra garlic and parmesan cheese, egg, and breadcrumbs until well-combined. That’s it! No sauteing or pre-cooking necessary. Everything will bake together along with the puff pastry and cheese!
And to see it all come together in more detail, just watch the video below!
PESTO CHICKEN CHEESY TARTE SOLEIL VIDEOPrint
- 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 8 ounces ground chicken or turkey
- 1/3 cup prepared pesto, plus more to serve
- 1 whole egg + 2 egg yolks, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 (8 ounce) round Triple Creme Brie (or regular Brie, or Camembert)
- Sesame seeds and / or poppy seeds, to top (optional)
- Fresh basil, to serve (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll out one sheet of puff pastry with a rolling pin to form large (at least 10″x10″) square. Use a large bowl (about 10″ across) to cut out a clean, large circle. Repeat for the other puff pastry sheet. Set aside.
- Mix the ground chicken, pesto, 1 whole egg, garlic, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper together until well-combined to create the filling.
- Gently transfer one of the puff pastry circles to the prepared baking sheet. Spoon the chicken mixture onto the puff pastry and smooth out to create an even ring with a 3/4 inch border around the edge to leave room for sealing the dough. Place the brie round (with rind intact) in the center.
- Cover with the remaining puff pastry round. Use a bowl that’s just slightly bigger than the brie round to firmly press the dough down surrounding the brie.
- Gently pull dough the edges of the top puff pastry round so they meet the bottom puff pastry, and press together. If your dough isn’t sticking together well or feels somewhat dry, brush the edges with a bit of water before pressing together.
- Use the tines of a fork to further seal and crimp the edges. Slice of any messy bits, if necessary.
- Lift up the bowl to remove it. Prick around the indented valley between the filling and brie with a fork.
- Slice the filled portion of the dough into 16 equal portions. Twist each portion so that the cut side is facing up, creating a sun-like appearance. Brush the entire pastry with beaten egg yolks. (If the yolks are too thick, add a teaspoon of water.)
- Sprinkle the center with sesame seeds and / or poppy seeds, if desired, and bake until the chicken is baked through and the puff pastry is golden, about 35 minutes. The timing can vary a good amount, so make sure to keep an eye on it. Allow to rest for a few minutes before transferring to serve.
- Slice off the top of the center of the puff pastry and brie rind, and pull off to expose the melted brie. Sprinkle with fresh basil and spoon over a tiny bit of additional pesto, if desired. Serve warm.