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 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!
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.
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