Do the holidays ever seem more cheery than from under a bough of evergreen and twinkling lights? Perhaps paired with a cozy fireplace and a bubbly cocktail? We don’t think so either! That’s why we always make time to bring together friends for an annual holiday cocktail party.
We’re not talking anything too fancy—something just nice enough that everyone can don a bit of sequin and sparkle and bring their holiday best. To us, a cocktail party is the perfect party because we always want to try a ton of different flavors without eating too much. That means a few choice passed bites and a signature cocktail and we’re happy.
When it comes to the menu, we mix it up from year to year to keep it fresh. Even so, there are a few things that we’ve learned. The number one cocktail party truth we’ve discovered? Pretty much any time puff pastry and some interesting cheese pair up, it’s sure to be a hit. So every year we set out a flaky, cheesy appetizer, ideally one with tons of flavor, that’s make ahead, and seriously simple.
This year we’re all about these Caramelized Onion Butternut Squash Danish, which are easy as pie (okay, easier because pie isn’t actually easy, ya know?) and are fitting for any party from the start of Fall through Spring. The key is the layer upon layer of seriously awesome flavor. It all starts out with a buttery, flaky puff pastry topped with slow-cooked thyme-caramelized onions and not one - but two - cheeses tucked between paper thin half-moons of butternut squash.
Speaking of, let’s pause for a hot sec to discuss the cheese shall we? We partnered with Roth Cheese to create this recipe and seeing as they’re based in the cheese capital of the U.S. (hey there, Wisconsin), they know a thing or a hundred about how to make good cheese. The two cheeses that we used in this recipe are Roth GranQueso and Roth Chipotle Havarti and here’s what you should know about them.
First up is the Roth GranQueso, which is a Spanish-inspired cheese that has won all sorts of awards. The rind is red because it’s rubbed with a spice mix that’s pretty secret though we do know cinnamon and paprika are involved. The cheese has this complex nutty, almost brown butter flavor that’s so addictive we’ve been snacking on it every time we see it but it’s also a perfect pairing for this recipe.
And then, for a bit of heat, we added the Chipotle Havarti. This creamy cheese melts well and the chipotle gives it a smoky spiciness that pretty much makes this recipe. With just a pinch, the Chipotle Havarti gives these Danish a whole other level of flavor.
Not only do these savory Caramelized Onion Butternut Squash Danish work perfect as a finger food, but also the slightly salty flavor means they’re meant to pair with a cocktail. So go ahead and make them ahead and then pop them in the oven when your guests arrive. Your place will be filled with crazy good smells and you’ll start your party off right!
quartered and thinly sliced
peeled, sliced into cut into thinly sliced half moons (you need about 50)
thinly sliced or shaved
Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Cut the thawed puff pastry into 4-inch-by-4-inch squares and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Heat butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat, add the onions, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir to coat then keep cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown. Stir in the thyme and remove onions from from the heat to let cool down slightly.
Remove puff pastry from refrigerator. Assemble the pastries, leaving a bit of a border, by layering each square with a few slices of the GranQueso then top with a place a small spoonful of onions and top with 3 to 4 pieces of squash then top with and 1 teaspoon grated Chipotle Havarti. Repeat for all pastries. Place in the refrigerator to chill about 15 to 20 minutes (pastries can be made and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead at this point) while you heat the oven.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Remove pastries from the refrigerator and brush pastries with the egg wash. Arrange the pastries on the baking sheets then bake, rotating the sheets once, until the pastries are golden brown and all the cheese is melted, about 20 to 25 minutes.
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