Easy Vol au Vents
1 pkg of puff pastry (2 sheets)
1 egg (for an egg wash)
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
1. On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of defrosted puff pastry into a slightly larger rectangle. Using round cutters, make clean sharp cuts. If you don't have round cutters (like me), you can use varying size bowls or glasses and a sharp knife. Just lightly press your bowl/glass into the dough and then cut out your circles. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides.
Keep in mind that the size cutters/bowls you use will depend on what you want to use your vol-au-vents for. For smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized vol-au-vents, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vol-au-vents, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles.
2. Using a smaller round cutter or a smaller bowl/glass (3/4-inch cutter for small vol-au-vents or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large), cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vol-au-vents, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vol-au-vents, or put them in the scrap pile.
3. Lightly brush the pastry rings with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
4 Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry). At this poitn you could refrigerate the assembled vol-au-vents on the lined baking sheet if you aren't baking rights away. The unbaked vol-au-vents can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).
5. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.) If the center puffed up, then just deflate it with a fork.
6. Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
Fill and serve.
- If you don't want to waste any pastry, consider making smaller vol-au-vents using the discarded inside dough from the rings.
- For additional rise on the larger-sized vol-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to “glue”). This will give higher sides to larger vol-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.
- Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vol-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.
- Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.
These vol-au-vents would be perfect for a fancier biscuits and gravy (probably didn't realize biscuits and gravy could even be fancy did you?) or a simple dessert of fruit and whipped cream. The possibilities are endless.