Vol au vent might sound fancy, but is a simple and quick appetizer that is perfect for last minute entertaining! Also a great way to use all that leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving.
Looking for more recipes to use Thanksgiving leftovers? Don’t forget to check these out: Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Nachos, Fricassee Leftover Turkey Sandwiches, Leftover Turkey Gumbo, Turkey and Mashed Potatoes Casserole and Mushroom and Turkey Risotto.
A last minute hors d’oeuvres for your next party!
Got leftover cranberry sauce? Save it for the next time you have guests (or even for Christmas) so you can make these delicious amouse-bouches.
Because who can resist melted brie nested inside a cute and flaky pastry cup and topped with sweet-tangy cranberry sauce and crushed nuts? Not me!
In fact, these vols au vent are such crowd pleasers that my guests eat them right off the tray when they get out of the oven. I rarely have the opportunity to plate them!
They are like a mini version of my Brie en Croute, another huge hit at my parties.
Next time you need a quick nibble to entice your friends before dinner, give these a try! You won’t be sorry.
What is vol au vent?
Vol-au-vent, pronounced vol-ah-vahn, is a French puff pastry appetizer or small snack, often filled with chicken or fish, and topped with a creamy sauce.
The French word vol au vent means “windblown” in English and describes its very light texture. And while you will see the plural spelled “vol-au-vents” all over the internet (and some restaurant menus), the correct spelling is “vols-au-vent”. Thanks, Google!
If you want to get technical, vols au vent are between 4 to 8 inches. The bite size version (around 2 inches in diameter) that I’m teaching you today, would be called mini bouchée or bouchée mignonne in France.
Brie and Cranberry Vol au Vent Ingredients
To make this easy appetizer, you’ll only need 4 ingredients:
- Frozen Puff Pastry – sheets or cups
- Cranberry Sauce – I recommend my Honey Bourbon Cranberry Sauce, if you’re making from scratch.
- Crushed Pistachios
Don’t like cranberry sauce? No worries! This recipe is easily customizable. Just use whatever kind of jam you like! You can also substitute the pistachios for other nuts (or omit altogether) and the brie for another type of cheese.
How to make vol au vent
Making vols au vent is very easy, especially if you’re using already cut puff pastry cups. In that case, all you gotta do is bake them, fill and bring them back to the oven until the brie melts.
However, if you can’t find puff pastry cups, you can buy puff pastry sheets and cut them yourself!
This is how I do it:
- Unfold the puff pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface and gently roll until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
- Using a 2½” round cookie cutter, cut 9 circles on each sheet and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Use a 1½” round cookie cutter to cut the centers out of half the rounds, creating rings. You can discard the centers. Top the circles with the rings.
- Pop the raw vols au vent in the freezer for about 15 minutes (and no more than 30 minutes).
- Brush the rounds with an egg wash, being careful to not brush the edges, to ensure the puff pastry can rise nicely.
- Bake at 425 degrees F until golden brown.
- Let them cool slightly and then cut out the puffed centers to create a hollow space for the fillings.
- Top with the cheese, cranberry sauce and crushed pistachios. Bring back to the oven and bake until the cheese melts.
Why are my pastries lopsided?
There are a few things that can contribute for puff pastry to rise unevenly.
Maybe your cutters weren’t sharp enough. You want to always trim or cut puff pastry with a very sharp knife or cutter, otherwise you can end up mashing the layers together and making it hard for them to separate when baking.
Another problem is when you let the puff pastry thaw too much before cutting or you let it sit too long after cutting. Make sure you use the puff pastry before it softens too much.
I also recommend you pop the vols au vent in the freezer for about 15 minutes after cutting them, while the oven preheats. The cold temperatures will make the butter re-solidify and that means it will melt more slowly in the oven, helping the pastry hold its shape and puff nicely.
And then there’s the egg wash. I already mentioned it, but do not brush the edges or the layers might stick together and won’t separate (and puff) when baking.
Followed all these tips and still ended up with crooked vol au vent? Don’t worry. While they are still warm, gently nudge them back into shape. Nobody will notice!
Other vol au vent filling ideas
There are so many fillings that would go well inside a flaky cup! Vol au vents are usually savory, but sweet versions do exist.
Here are some suggestions:
- Creamed Spinach
- Creamed Corn
- Ham and Pineapple
- Chocolate Mousse
- Strawberries and Cream
- Lemon Mascarpone Cream
- Cheese and Guava
How to reheat vols au vent
Puff pastry treats are the flakiest when freshly baked. However, if you have leftovers, you can reheat them in the oven, at 350 degrees F, for about 10-15 minutes or until warm!
Can I freeze vol au vent?
Yes. It will lose its freshly baked, right-out-of-the-oven appeal, but it can be done.
Make sure to allow it to defrost completely – preferably in the fridge overnight – and then bake until hot all the way through.
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry (or 9 puff pastry cups), thawed
- 3 ounces brie, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup cranberry sauce
- 3 tablespoons crushed pistachios
- Egg wash (one egg + 1 tablespoon water)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- On a lightly floured surface, unfold the puff pastry sheets and gently roll until 1/4-inch thick. If using puff pastry cups, skip to step X.
- Using a 2½” round cutter, cut 9 circles on each pastry sheet and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then, use a 1½” cutter to cut a hole in the center out of half the circles, creating rings. Place the rings on top of the whole circles. Discard the cut centers.
- Place the raw vols au vent in the freezer for 15 minutes (and no more than 30 minutes).
- When oven is preheated, brush the center of the vols au vent with the egg wash. Do not brush the edges, so the puff pastry can rise evenly.
- Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.
- Remove the pastries from the oven. If the centers puffed a lot, use a pairing knife to cut them out or push them in with your fingers, to created a hollow space for the cheese.
- Insert the brie cubes inside the hollowed center. Top with the cranberry sauce and crushed pistachios.
- Bake again until the cheese has melted, about 10 minutes.
- Let them cool slightly and serve immediately!
Puff pastry issues:
- Work with the puff pastry as soon as it is pliable. Letting it sit too long and soften means it won't puff as nicely in the oven.
- Using sharp cutters will help your pastries rise evenly. If your cutters are dull, you might risk mashing the layers together and that will make it hard for them to separate and puff when baking.
- A good insurance for an even lift is to pop the vols au vent in the freezer for about 15 minutes so the butter can re-solidify. The butter will then melt more slowly in the oven, helping the puff pastry hold its shape and lift evenly.
- If you still end up with lopsided vols au vent, just gently mold them with your hands once they are out of the oven. Nobody will notice!
Cranberry sauce - You can use any kind of jam you like!
Brie - Camembert, blue cheese or any cheese you love.
Pistachios - Almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamias, etc.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 101Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 95mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g