Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers 2009 : Vols-au-Vent

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

When I saw this challenge I was pretty excited, since it would be a new skill for me. Puff pastry is one of several kinds of laminated doughs, which is a dough layered with dough and butter. I have not yet attempted croissant dough, but have tried danish pastry before. I almost signed up for the puff pastry class at the local community college, but after inquiring, discovered they were starting with pre-made dough, not teaching the making of the dough, so it was high time!

I decided to make savory and sweet vols-au-vent, and made a fresh tomato-mozzarella-basil-balsamic salad for the savory ones. The vinegar was a nice contrast to the extreme richness of the pastry.

Puff Pastry Dough
Puff pastry is a yeastless dough that you wrap around rolled out, chilled butter. There is a lot of folding and rolling but the butter absolutely must be cold or it will ruin the layering of the final product. I'm not sure I always had it right, and actually pulled a muscle in my forearm rolling out the 5th time or so. But my butter was definitely kept cold!

Vols-au-Vent with Mousse au Chocolat
It was funny that this month's challenge was from a Julia Child cookbook, because I've been on a Julia Child recipe baking and cooking binge for several months. I'm about ready to put that trend on hold - the food is all good, but so, so rich. But to celebrate this last phase of Julia Child, I made her mousse au chocolat, or chocolate mousse, from her now infamous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. So many chocolate mousse recipes that I have found are basically a chocolate whipped cream, but this is the classic recipe using eggs, and is spongy (in a good way), ethereal, and deeply chocolatey. I even found an old blog post where David Lebovitz blogs it as his standard chocolate mousse recipe. It is worth a try, and inside a homemade puff-pastry vols-au-vent, it was a rich treat.

Asparagus and Gruyere Tart
A few days later, I still had half a recipe of puff pastry to use. I scoured through cookbooks and cooking blogs, and came across a recipe on Zoe's blog for an Asparagus and Gruyere Tart. I couldn't imagine a better use of it, and it was very delicious.

So, is it worth it to make puff pastry from scratch? I found the results to be buttery and delicious, beyond the taste of anything I've found at the store. It isn't a recipe that takes a lot of devoted time, but you do have to plan ahead to allow for all the turns and butter re-chilling in between steps. As for me, I'm ready to turn to some less rich recipes for a while, but I never know where the Daring Bakers will take me!

Categories: Asparagus, Cheese, Chocolate, Daring Bakers, Mousse, Pastry, Puff Pastry, Tart, Tomato

15 comments:

Wic said...

oh the Asparagus and Gruyere Tart is a winner.
love what you did with the puff pastry.

Dragon said...

I love your asparagus and gruyere tart! Great job on this month's challenge.

Sophie said...

Oooh, love the asparagus idea. Your puff pastry looks pink in the first photo but it must be a reflection of the plate! Looks wonderful.

Barbara Bakes said...

Look at all those fabulous flaky layers! the tart looks amazing too!

Wolf said...

I'm definately feeling it in my shoulders and upper arms today, all that rolling>}:P

Looks great, especially the Asparagus & Guyere tart!

Ahmad said...

Are your first vol-au-vents pink!? Wow funky!

I totally agree with you, the taste is far superior to the taste of store bought stuff. If I had time I'd make large batches!

Dharm said...

The asparagus tart looks just great as do you vols-au-vents. Great job with this challenge!

MeetaK said...

oh wow! just lovely creations - well done Jenny!

Jenny Tan said...

What a great idea on the asparagus and gruyere tart! :)

anna said...

Uh, YUM. What better way to fill something made of half butter than a ridiculously rich chocolate mousse from the Lady of Butter herself? The tart looks very yummy too, the asparagus makes it healthy, right? ;)

Lisa Michelle said...

Jenny, as I marveled and drooled at your beautiful vols au vents and that asparagus tart, I kept nodding my head as I read your post. You poor thing, pulling a muscle in your forearm! I've done it too, no fun! Also, yes, Julia's recipe for chocolate mousse is the bomb! All in all,great job, and your layers are absolute perfection!

Jill said...

That asparagus and gruyere tart looks amazing!! Your puff pastry looks so flaky and tall!

Eliana said...

Your take on this challenge is fantastic! And that tart looks mouthwatering.

Crystal said...

Funny, I've been making dishes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking too. I was thrilled to do anothef Julia recipe. I filled mine with chicken pot pie filling the first time but I also plan to make Julia's chocolate mousse to fill the others. Great minds think alike, I guess.

You can check it out here
http://bricck.blogspot.com/2009/09/september-daring-bakers-challenge.html

Sweet and Savory said...

You did a great job with both.