So first you'll want to preheat your oven to 375. Mash up your cream cheese with a fork, and then stir in the drained ROTEL. Transfer the ROTEL mixture to a medium pan on stovetop with medium heat. Heat it up, stirring occasionally, just til the cream cheese is well melted and blended into the ROTEL. Once melted through, turn off heat and set aside.
Now, lay out two pieces of parchment paper. I like the precut sheets. They are a game changer (pre-cut sheets)!
Next, lightly sprinkle a-purpose flour (or gluten free flour mix), onto each parchment paper sheet.
Lay your thawed puff pastry, one per parchment sheet, and roll out til they measure about 11x16. If you have any cracking just add a dab of water and rub smooth, or pinch together pieces that have come apart.
Grab your ROTEL mixture, and spread a thin layer on one puff pastry, leaving about 1" bare around the edge.
Take about 1/2 C of grated parmesan cheese, and evenly shake it on top of the ROTEL mixture that is spread on your puff pastry.
Take your other puff pastry, and place it on top of the one that has the ROTEL mixture on it.
Seal your sides by pressing them together all the way around. It will kind of resemble a ginormous toaster pastry!
Now you can use a piece of parchment with an outline, or you can just gently "draw" in your lines using a knife or pastry cutter, or even a pizza cutter. I do it once just barely pressing so I can see a line, but not cutting through.
You will want an approximate 45 degree line on the left and on the right, wide at bottom, and narrow, meeting at the top to make the main part of the Christmas tree.
Then you will use two fingers to mark out your trunk, and cut away scrap dough from the bottom on the left and right side horizontally adjacent the bottom of the "trunk".
Save those scraps, you will use them for the star, and also for the second appetizer!
Now you will cut your branches. Mine were roughly 1 1/2" and I didn't go all the way through. I left that 2 finger space all the way up to the top.
Starting with the bottom branches, roll each branch away from you a couple twists, and press down the edge to the parchment to make it "stay". Continue doing this until all branches are twisted.
Now from one of your larger scrap pieces gently mark the shape of a star. It can be rustic, and not perfect. It will bake up, and you won't see each edge perfectly anyways!
I scored the place at the top of the tree where my star was going, as well as the back of the star, and "glued" it together with egg wash.
Whether you are using a "milk" and maple "egg wash" or an actual egg wash, go ahead and gently brush the egg wash on top of the tree covering all face up portions.
Now shake about 2-3 Tablespoons of grated parmesan over the brushed on egg wash.
Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
Egg wash and sprinkle on grated parmesan cheese, to all your scraps of pastry. I cut mine into lean breadstick type shapes, but have fun with it. You could even use a festive cookie cutter! Then bake those for about 12 minutes, til light golden brown, at 375 as well.
Serve with the remaining ROTEL mixture as a dipping sauce for your savory puff pastry!
To make this gluten free you can use gluten free puff pastry sheets.
To make this vegan:
Use your favorite vegan cream cheese substitute, and omit the grated parmesan cheese.
For a vegan egg wash, you can whisk together and use 2 T of your favorite dairy alternative, with 1 T of maple syrup! Enjoy friends.