How to make homemade vol-au-vent shells

Vol au vents. Light flaky puff pastry cases filled with a warm (usually savoury) filling. Ubiquitous on the 70s cocktail circuit. Oh so exotic (at the time). Where have these gone? I remember being able to easily find these at a supermarket but now not so much. You can find them if you search, but they don’t seem to be as easily available as they used to be. I was reminded of them when I was flipping through an old cookbook where they appeared often, in mini-form as chic additions to an hors d’oeuvre tray and wondered if I might simply make my own…

Puff pastry Vol au vents with creamy leek and mushroom filling on eatlivetravelwrite.comFor my latest piece for The Ontario Produce Marketing Association I was asked to develop a recipe for leeks for Produce Made Simple and I couldn’t stop thinking about a vol au vent shell filled with mushrooms and leeks in a creamy sauce. The fillng part? Easy! The shells? I wanted to see if I could make my own. If you Google “How to make vol au vent cases” you will get around 100k results. I will admit to spending a long time reading through the various techniques.  There is an excellent tutorial over on Joe Pastry (if you have some time on your hands), I really liked the simplicity of the BBC Food tutorial and the instructions over on Simple Tasty Food and Cookery Skills.  In the end, I decided to go for square vol au vent cases since that way I would be wasting less pastry and I took a simple route inspired by Cook, Eat, Live, Vegetarian.

I started out with four 10′ x 10′ sheets of store-bought puff pastry, thawed but still cold to the touch.  Yes, store-bought. While I have made puff pastry from scratch before (both the real deal, laminated dough kind and two different kinds of “rough puff”), I recognise that this is not something everyone feels confident with. I’m all for a few shortcuts in the kitchen, especially now you can buy all butter puff pastry – pourquoi pas, as they say in France…

I cut each square into nine smaller squares…

Puff pastry squares on eatlivetravelwrite.comThen stacked the squares three high and trimmed them to make them the same size…

Cutting puff pastry squares on eatlivetravelwrite.comI brushed one side of each square lightly with egg wash (one egg and a splash of cold water), then stacked the squares 3 high again.

Brushing puff pastry squares with egg wash on eatlivetravelwrite.comNext, working quickly, I used a metal shot measure (you could use a small cookie cutter if you like or simply a knife) to score a circle on the top square of each stack… I actually wanted a square but didn’t trust my knife skills 😉

Puff pastry vol au vent cases on eatlivetravelwrite.comI placed these in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes (the time it took to pre-heat the oven) then I baked them for 25 minutes at 350˚F/ 180˚C

Puff pastry vol au vent cases on eatlivetravelwrite.comEt voilà! (Now I know that I probably should have used a larger cutter – or a knife – to score the centre part. It was a little on the small side).

I hollowed the centres of the cases out with a small paring knife – don’t be shy about pushing down the centre pastry to make room for your filling.

Hollowing out Vol au vent cases on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd got to work on the filling…

Chopping leeks on
Photograph for Produce Made Simple by Mardi Michels
Leek and mushroom filling for vol au vent cases on
Photograph for Produce Made Simple by Mardi Michels

And the final result?

Vol au vents with creamy leek and mushroom filling on
Photograph for Produce Made Simple by Mardi Michels

I was pretty happy with these, I have to say. They are more like a light meal than an hors d’oeuvre (given their size) but they served me well for lunches and quick dinners that week. They re-heat in the oven nicely (just cover the top with foil so it doesn’t dry out) and didn’t even lose their “puff” or crispiness after a few days!  Four sheets of puff pastry made 6 complete vol au vent cases, so you could definitely cut down on the size of these and make many mini hors d’oeuvre-sized ones. Same technique, just smaller!

Want the recipe for Creamy Leek and Mushroom Vol au Vents? Head on over to the Produce Made Simple site!


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8 thoughts on “How to make homemade vol-au-vent shells”

  1. These were a delight. All hail store-bought pastry, to save even more time here.

    A lunch-time nibble at the computer, so no wine pairing. But a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc comes to mind…

  2. I love this tutorial. I am making these awesome treats this weekend. I think I am going to fill them with all different types of veggies. And I think I will try making some dessert vol-au-vent shells. Thank you for sharing this lovely dish.

  3. My daughter discovered vol-au-vents at a friend’s house and regularly asks me to make them! I have been buying store made cases but they have a funny taste and smell (to me at least). So I will make these tonight- so easy, thank you!


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