Bestselling author BECKY EXCELL has spent years developing delicious dishes and sharing them with her followers on Instagram. She is here to show you that a gluten-free Christmas can be enjoyable and easy, without having to miss out on anything.
In her latest book, Gluten Free Christmas, she will show you just how simple it is to recreate all your festive favourites, from Christmas Eve nibbles and the main event, to sweet treats, edible gifts and a Boxing Day feast.
Here’s an easy-peasy, tear-and-share party-food favourite that never fails to impress, filled with oozing creamy cheese and pesto, sandwiched between layers of golden puff pastry. If you’ve got a lot to prepare, then this recipe is always a great choice as it only requires 10 minutes of actual effort!
Cheesy Pesto Christmas Tree
1. Remove the pastry sheets from the fridge 10 minutes before starting – this makes it easier to unroll them without breaking or cracking.
Serves 7–8 Takes 30 minutes
- 2 x 280g (10oz) store-bought gluten-free puff pastry sheets
- 3 tbsp cream cheese
- 3 tbsp green pesto, plus extra to dollop
- 1 egg, beaten
- 10 sweety drop red peppers (from a jar), drained
- Small handful of grated mozzarella
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C fan / 220°C / 425°F. Unroll one of the pastry sheets and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking parchment, discarding any paper it was rolled in.
3. Mix together the cream cheese and pesto in a small bowl, then spread it over the first pastry sheet. Unroll the second puff pastry sheet and place on top of the first.
4. Using a long, sharp knife (a long ruler helps to keep things straight), cut the layered pastry into the shape of a Christmas tree with a base trunk 5cm (2in) thick. Use a 5cm (2in) star-shaped cutter to cut out 4-5 stars from the excess pastry. Take the remaining pastry offcuts and place to one side for now – you can always bake it after as a chef’s treat!
5. Next, with the trunk of the tree closest to you, use a sharp knife to cut 2cm (¾in) branches on both sides of the tree. Cut lines on each side, but stop around 1cm (½in) before the middle.
6. Gently pinch and twist each branch a couple of times, so they look like mini cheese twists – you’ll only be able to twist the small branches once.
Brush the tree with beaten egg and place the pastry stars on the very top of the tree and down the centre. Brush the stars with egg too.
7. Spoon pesto on top in small dollops to create pesto baubles and adorn with the sweety drop peppers (pointy side upwards). next, sprinkle over the grated mozzarella.
8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden brown, covering loosely with foil once it starts to look golden. remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a serving board. Add a few more small dollops of pesto, as though they were pesto baubles.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi there! I’m Becky Excell I’m a London and Essex-based food writer, recipe creator and a four time Sunday Times best-selling author. I’m half South African and I live with my boyfriend Mark and my Miniature Schnauzer, Peggy.
Welcome to my gluten-free food blog! I started it in 2013 after my doctor diagnosed me with IBS (that was back in 2009) and told me that my relationship with gluten was officially over. I never thought I’d eat nice food ever again…
How it all began…
After all, it’s not until you can’t eat gluten that you realise it’s in *almost everything* – bread, cakes, pasta, pizza… essentially all my favourite food. So I put my apron on out of pure ‘hangry’ frustration and began creating all the recipes I really missed and posted them on my blog; mainly just so I could share them with family before I went over for tea.
(you don’t know how long it took to stop my own family from accidentally poisoning me!)
But out of the blue, people started visiting those posts on my blog, making my recipes and sending me photos of their creations. Like… what?! But it made me so happy to think I’d helped to reunite people with food that they really missed. So I kept doing exactly that.
Fast-forward 10 years to 2023 and yup, I’m still posting recipes for all the food that I really miss! But the only difference is that compared to the early days where a handful of people stumbled across my blog… now I have almost 1 million people following me across all my social media channels and I even won a few awards too. How crazy is that?