Prepare for the most un-scientific recipe on our site ever. I decided to try making Vol au Vents a couple of weeks ago when we held a high tea for one of my work colleagues who is leaving us this year. Vol au Vents look fancy, but are actually really simple to make. I did write down ingredient amounts when I made these, but I’ve lost the paper (I really need a better system – this is not the first time this has happened). However, you don’t need to be super exact with these – make the fillings to a taste that you are happy with. To start with you will need to make some pastry cases, which look impressive but are actually really simple.
Pastry Cases (makes about 30)
1 pack of flaky puff pastry (I used 750g 5 sheet Edmonds pack)
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Let the pastry defrost slightly – you still want it to be very cold when you work with it.
You will need two round cookie cutters (-or similar: I used a tea cup and a round plastic tube!); one that is about a 1cm bigger than the other (my little teacup was 6cm in diameter and the small plastic tube was 3cm).
Using the larger cutter, cut out rounds from the pastry sheets.
Using the smaller cutter, cut rounds out of the centre of half of the big pastry circles you just cut out.
Whisk up the egg with a few drops of water.
Brush the egg wash around the edges of the complete, larger, circles of pastry.
Layer a ring of pastry on top of the complete pastry circle, and gently place the cut out centre back on top (see image above).
Gently brush the top with more egg wash, being careful not to get egg on the sides of the pastry as this will limit the extent the pastry will puff up when cooked.
Bake the pastry for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Carefully pick the pastry centres off the cases (yes, I was a piggy and ate all the unwanted pastry centres!).
You can fill your cases with whatever takes your fancy – there are lots of recipes about, just google ‘Vol au Vent fillings’. I decided to make a ‘cheats’ chicken filling and a ham and egg option. The following recipes are recalled from memory, so feel free to tweak them to suit your tastes. Any left over filling mixture makes a great sandwich spread. Also, if desired, the Vol au Vents can be placed in a heated oven for a further 5 minutes to warm the fillings before serving.
‘Cheats’ chicken filling
1 x 160g can of shredded Chop Chop chicken (I used the wholegrain mustard flavour)
3 leaves of basil
2 semi dried tomatoes
Finely cut the basil and tomatoes up. Mix through the chicken. Spoon into the prepared Vol au Vent cases.
Ham and egg filling
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
100g shaved ham, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Hard boil the eggs (place in a pot of water and boil for 10 – 12 minutes). Once the eggs have cooled, peel them and place in a small bowl.
Add the mayonnaise to the eggs. Mash the eggs with a fork until the eggs are a broken into fine pieces, mixing in more mayonnaise if needed.
Mix in the ham and fresh parsley. Taste the mixture, adding more of the ingredients listed if desired, and seasoning with salt and pepper.
Spoon into the prepared Vol au Vent cases.