The better the goat cheese, the better the spread. Look for artisanal and farmstead goat cheeses—almost every farmers’ market I’ve been to has some local purveyors. However, please don’t think that commercial goat cheeses won’t work—I developed and tested this recipe using several different supermarket brands and all were good. I prefer to buy pistachios in the shell because they are fresher, and it seems to me that shelling your own is ample justification for the cook to munch a few. Take off any loose pistachio skins while you’re at it. I like to pipe a rosette of goat cheese on top of each wafer for a festive look, but it works equally will (and certainly tastes as great) to use a butter knife to place a teaspoonful dab on each wafer.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough from a 17.3 ounce package
All-purpose flour for dusting
1 large egg beaten
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
5 ounces goat cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup natural pistachio nuts; shelled, finely chopped, plus 35 shelled for garnish
3 tablespoons fresh chives finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Remove one of the pastry sheets from the package and thaw the pastry at room temperature for 30 minutes. Tightly seal the remaining pastry and freeze for another use. (Or double the recipe and make 70 pastry wafers.)
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Have ready two identically sized rimmed baking sheets and two sheets of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pans.
Unfold the pastry sheet and place it on a lightly floured cutting board. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry just enough to remove the fold marks. Using a 1 3/4-inch round cookie cutter, cut approximately 35 rounds of dough. Place the rounds on one of the parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush the tops of the pastry with beaten egg, be- ing careful to not let the egg run down the sides. Cover with a sheet of parchment, and place the second (empty) baking sheet on top, so the baking sheets nest together. (This will keep the pastry even and prevent it from rising too much, thus creating crisp wafers.)
Bake until crisp and light golden brown, 15 minutes.
Remove the top baking sheet and piece of parchment and let the wafers cool on the pan. (The wafers can be made up to 1 day in advance.)
To make the goat cheese spread, in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the garlic and salt until the garlic is finely minced. Add the goat cheese and butter and process until combined and smooth. Scatter the nuts and chives over the top; add a few grinds of pepper and pulse 2 or 3 times until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (The goat cheese spread can be made up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before piping or spreading on the wafers.)
To assemble and serve, fit a pastry bag with a 5/8-inch open star tip (Ateco #8). (Alternatively, use a butter knife to form a delicate dab of the goat cheese spread on the top of each baked wafer). Fold back the top of the bag to form a collar. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the spread into the bag. Twist the top of the bag and squeeze the spread down to the tip, squeezing out any air pockets. Hold the bag upright and pipe a rosette on top and in the center of each wafer. Set a pistachio on top for garnish. Arrange on a platter and serve at room temperature.