Kitchn Love Letters

Ina Garten’s Cheesy Puff Pastry Batons Are So Good, I’ve Made Them Every Single Week of Quarantine

updated Dec 7, 2020
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Ina Garten's Puff Pastry Baton's on baking sheet.
Credit: Photo: Chris Testani; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

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It was Easter weekend when I realized just how fed up I was with cooking. My in-laws were head-down in a sea of cookbooks, and in that moment, instead of helping with the menu, all I wanted to do was propose scrambled eggs for Easter dinner instead.

Their plan was anything but. Leg of lamb, mashed potatoes, asparagus — the list went on. When they mentioned a happy hour appetizer, I blurted “hummus and pita chips!” at the same time they said “mustard and Gruyère batons!” What? But batons it was, and let me tell you: Not only did they get me out of my funk that weekend, but I’ve also been making them every weekend since.

The Secret to My New Favorite Happy Hour Snack

I wrongly assumed these batons, from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, were complicated. They are not. They’re little more than strips of puff pastry dough sprinkled with cheese and baked — and thanks to a few magical Ina touches, they’re one of the most winning appetizers I’ve ever made. On Easter, they were inhaled before we even took our first sips, and the same has been true every time we’ve made them since.

What’s so special about these batons is what’s hiding inside: Dijon mustard. To make them, you’ll roll out a sheet of thawed puff pastry dough into a large rectangle, brush half with a generous layer of Dijon, and brush the border with egg wash. Then you’ll fold the dough in half, seal it, cut into strips, and brush them with more egg wash. The final touch? A showering of grated Gruyère and Parmesan, then they’re off to the oven until puffed and golden.

Anything topped with two kinds of cheese is likely going to be good, but when you bite into these warm and buttery puffs, you’ll find it’s the mustard that takes them to another level; the tanginess offsets the salty richness of everything else. They’re perfect on their own, but they’re wildly good with happy hour drinks.

Credit: Photo: Chris Testani; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

If You Make These Mustard and Gruyere Batons, a Few Tips

Since we’ve now baked a batch of these batons every weekend since Easter, we’ve all practically memorized the recipe. We’ve also come to adjust a couple of things to make them easier and more well-suited to our tastes.

  • Try to use all-butter puff pastry. The two most common brands of frozen puff pastry are Pepperidge Farm and Dufour. The first is made with vegetable oil and the second is made with butter. There’s a noticeable difference in taste so if you can, try to get Dufour — it’s more expensive but in my opinion worth it. If you have a pack of Trader Joe’s puff pastry in your freezer left over from the holidays, that’s even better. It’s also all-butter and about a quarter of the price (but only available seasonally).
  • Skip the chilling. Ina asks you to chill the dough for 15 minutes before cutting the dough and again before baking, but we’ve always been too ravenous to wait and they’ve turned out perfectly. Unless your kitchen is very hot, don’t worry about the 15-minute chills.
  • Don’t be afraid to use more cheese. Honestly, we’ve never measured the cheese, but I have a feeling we’ve been using more than she calls for. If you’re too heavy-handed, you’ll actually be rewarded because the fallen cheese with melt and crisp up on the baking sheet and become little cracker-like pieces that feel like a bonus gift.
  • Opt for black pepper instead of flaky salt. Ina calls for sprinkling the batons with flaky sea salt before baking, but there’s already plenty of salt going on between the pastry, Dijon, and two kinds of cheese. Instead, we grind black pepper over the batons after topping them with cheese, and it perfectly complements the tangy mustard and nutty Gruyère.

Get the recipe: Mustard and Gruyere Batons from Ina Garten

What’s been the best thing you’ve made during quarantine? Tell us in the comments!