Hot crab puffs for a crowd

Sarah Crowder

I look forward to parties — seeing my favorite people, the festive music and decor, and of course, the special foods. Whether I’m the host or just bringing a dish to add to the buffet, I aim for something that impresses, but isn’t so labor-intensive that it adds more stress.

My newest appetizer to make the cut is these hot little crab puffs. I fill puff pastry cups with a creamy, lightly seasoned filling boasting a generous helping of sweet crab meat. With these flaky bites, the crab dip comes to you.

This appetizer is inspired by the warm crab dip I am often treated to when visiting my family in Virginia, and it is adapted from a recipe handed down to my mother-in-law from her mother-in-law.

I translated it into a finger-food concept, so it’s easy to eat while enjoying a party. I also like that they’re served in miniature because, between the buttery pastry and crab, they’re quite rich. That said, piling several on your plate is highly encouraged.

Hot Crab Puffs

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 pound crab meat

26 ounces puff pastry (3 sheets), thawed in the refrigerator overnight

Finely chopped chives, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, butter, salt, celery seed and Old Bay until smooth. Add the crab meat and stir to combine.

Cut the puff pastry sheets into 2-by-2-inch squares. Gently press the squares into a mini muffin tin. Add a scant tablespoon of crab mixture to each square. Bake until the puff pastry just begins to brown at the edges, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chives and serve hot.

Recipe notes: The puffs can be assembled the day before, covered in plastic wrap, refrigerated overnight and then baked off the following day. They reheat well, in a warm oven, the same day they were cooked, but once cooked, the texture declines overnight.

I prefer backfin crab meat over lump in this recipe, because it fits better in the mini tarts.

I have made these with two different brands of puff pastry and both required three sheets, with some scraps discarded. You can measure a sheet of puff pastry ahead of time to determine how many 2-by-2-inch squares it will make. Serves 24.

Per serving: 196 calories; 14 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 64 percent calories from fat); 11 g carbohydrates; 1 g sugar; 25 mg cholesterol; 300 mg sodium; 6 g protein; 0.5 g fiber.