These Cheesy Pinwheels with Walnuts are light, crispy, slightly garlicky and very addictive. These little appetizers are perfect to snack on while sipping wine or beer before and after the meal.
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This post was originally published on October 13, 2015 and it is now updated with more information, tips, photos, and video.
Click Jump to Recipe if you don’t feel like reading my thoughts and musings.
In the wake of our Canadian Thanksgiving, recovering from a pumpkin-induced food coma, traditions come to mind. Traditions that ground you and provide axis for your world.
The ones that happen month after month or year after year and can be used for marking the passage of time instead of the outdated wall-calendar or high-tech phone equivalent. Traditions that define you.
Thinking back on the last few decades of my life, I realize that most of these traditions rotate around food. It’s the 12-layer Napoleon cake that my mom always used to make for my birthday.
It’s the potato and sorrel soup that my grandma made to mark the beginning of summer. It’s a coin wrapped in tissue and hidden in a cabbage pie for a guest to find for luck during dinner party.
It’s traditions that defined my childhood and I still look for them during holidays and celebrations, everyday moments and special occasions. I long for the traditions and yet, somehow, I don’t have many of them.
I left Russia just before turning 16. It wasn’t just the country that I left behind, I left my home, my mom, my life full of stability and predictable dinners.
I came to Canada a sad and hopeful teenager, lonely and afraid of this foreign language, different country and new (my dad’s) family. The traditions of my Canadian family, happening year after year with unwavering predictability, never got truly engraved into my being.
And so I search for the traditions in, still foreign after more than two decades, holidays and occasions – Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas. Some are easier to understand and accept, some are not. But I think traditions are not about calendar holidays, they are about friends, family and, more often than not, food.
These Cheesy Pinwheels with Walnuts are something I make almost every time I host dinner parties, so, I guess in this sense they became my tradition.
They are easy to make, require very few ingredients and taste delicious. Light, crispy, slightly garlicky and pretty addictive, these little coins are perfect to snack on while sipping wine or beer before and after the meal.
Combination of cheese, walnuts and garlic is reminiscent of Georgian cuisine. My mom used to make eggplant rolls filled with garlic, nuts and cheese, so I took those childhood flavours and made them into an elegant and delicious appetizer.
More Georgian recipes:
Ingredients to make Cheesy Pinwheels
- Cheddar cheese
- Parsley (use Cilantro if you like more Georgian-inspired flavours)
- Puff pastry
Variations for Cheesy Pinwheels
You can use any of your favourite cheese, nuts, and herbs. Feel free to use smoked cheddar for stronger flavour. You can use pecans, pine nuts, or hazelnuts even. Try dill or cilantro or a combination of a few herbs also.
On occasion I have made these without any herbs. So, you could definitely do that also but these little appetizers are so much better with herbs.
Mayo is used to bind the mixture together a little bit and provide some flavour. You could use yogurt or sour cream instead. Do not use more than the specified amount though.
I find that there’s enough sodium in the puff pastry, mayo, and cheese but if you prefer saltier foods, then add salt. You can also add some cayenne pepper if you’d like a bit of heat. For more pronounced Georgian flavours, add a little bit of Khmeli Suneli Recipe- Georgian Spice Mix.
There’s only a slight hint of garlic. You could add more if you prefer stronger flavour or omit altogether.
How to make Cheesy Pinwheels with Walnuts
- First you need to make the Cheese and Walnuts filling. Just combine all the ingredients in a small food processor and chop until the filling is very well processed and almost becomes a paste.
- Spread the filling evenly over a rolled out sheet of puff pastry. Then roll back into a log.
- Freeze the puff pastry for about 1 hour.
- Slice into little pinwheels.
- Bake until golden brown and puffed up.
Note: this is my favourite brand of a hand food processor. I had an older model for over 10 years and it just recently stopped working, so I bought a newer model and cannot be happier!!!
Tips for making ahead
What I love about this recipe is that it can be prepped ahead. You can make the filling and roll the puff pastry and then freeze for up to 3 months!
All you have to do later is defrost in the fridge. Slice (easier to slice if it’s not fully defrosted), then bake.
If you decide to freeze the filled and rolled puff pastry for a few weeks/months, then you must make sure that it is wrapped properly. I usually roll the puff pastry in the parchment paper it comes in, then wrap in saran wrap as tight as possible (sometimes even two layers) and then wrap the whole log in foil.
This is a great way to serve homemade appetizers without much stress. Read my article for 12 Tips for Easy and Stress-free Entertaining for more entertaining tips and ideas.
Cheesy Pinwheels with Walnuts
- Food processor
- If the puff pastry is frozen, take it out of the freezer and place in the fridge a night before to defrost.
- In a small food processor, combine the garlic, walnuts, herbs and pulse until mixture is finely chopped.
- Add the shredded cheese and pulse a few more times.
- Add the mayo and pulse a couple more times to make a rough coarse paste.
- If you are using puff pastry sheet, then unroll the pastry sheet and roll it a little bit to thin out and make the rectangle bigger.If you are using block of puff pastry then roll on a floured surface into a rectangle a bit bigger than 10x15".
- Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the puff pastry. It is not smooth, so don't expect it to glide like butter or cream cheese.
- Roll the puff pastry back into the roll, like sushi or jelly roll and put in the freezer for at least half an hour, preferably an hour or longer.Note: I use the parchment paper that the puff pastry is originally rolled in to store it in the freezer for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- With a serrated knife, slice the roll into thin 1/8 inch pieces. About 28-30 pieces.
- Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (same that the puff pastry came with) about an inch apart.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until puff pastry is crisp, dry and golden.
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And just for fun, here are some old photos of this recipe from October 13, 2015.