Vol-au-Vent | French Pastry Shells


Want to impress the heck out of someone? Vol-au-vents are easy to make puff pastry shells that are light as a feather (vol-au-vent is French for flight of air) and impressive as all get out. Did I mention how easy they are to make?

They are typically served with a savory filling, but since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner I wanted to fill these with something sweet. I opted for whipped cream and a dab of raspberry jam, and they are just the right touch after a big dinner. Especially since we’ve already eaten the chocolates that Jan made a few days ago.


This is as much technique as it is recipe. Thaw your puff pastry just enough to lay it flat. The colder the puff pastry, the easier it will be to work with. Cut out twice as many shapes as you will have final pastries. I made four vol-au-vents, so I started with eight pieces.


Take a smaller cutter and cut out the center of the top pieces, but do not remove the cut piece.



Brush egg wash on the bottom layer, then gently place the top layer on top, being careful not to press down. If you press down on the puff pastry it won’t rise as much. Then brush the top with your egg wash and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) for twenty to twenty-five minutes, until they are golden brown. Turn off the heat, crack the oven door open, and let them cool in the oven for an hour. The vol-au-vents will continue to cook for a while as they cool down.


Once they are cooled, carefully cut out the smaller shape on top. Now it’s just a matter of filling them.


I whipped some heavy cream, adding a little sugar for sweetness. Then I spooned in a dollop of my favorite raspberry jam.


This makes such a beautiful dessert. A close friend of ours was in town and staying the night, and she was so impressed with these that she’s starting to think I’m a genius. I almost felt guilty for how easy they were to make.