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…
For 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…
Next, 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 😉
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.
And the final result?
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!
US/Canadian readers: Win a copy of Butter Baked Goods and a box of goodies from the Butter Baked bakery! Closes December 3rd 2014. Details here.