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.
Vols-au-Vent, pronounced voool-oh-vaw, are little puff pastry cases designed to hold a filling. I was so excited to make this month’s challenge. I love puff pastry! All those flaky, melt-in-your mouth, fattening layers! We were allowed to fill our pastries with any sweet or savory filling we could dream up. And these little pastries are definitely something I could dream about!
One of the best things about being a Daring Baker is getting to know other Daring Bakers. Megan of Megan’s Cookin and I have baked the last three DB challenges together on Twitter and this month we were joined by April of Abby’s Sweets. It’s so great having others just a tweet away to bounce ideas off of and to share your struggles with while baking the challenge.
My struggle with this challenge was the warm weather. We are having an unusually hot fall and I should have cranked up my AC before starting this challenge. April was complaining of hand pain from beating her butter into submission, but my butter was easily beaten into a square without too much resistance. The dough came together perfectly in the food processor, not too dry, not too sticky, and it rolled easily into a nice little square.
But after one turn, my dough was getting really soft and I knew it needed to be chilled. I chilled it 30 minutes and did another turn. Another 30 minute chill and I did another turn. On the next turn the dough was too soft and the top and bottom layers were so buttery that I had to use lots of flour to keep it from sticking. After my great start I was getting so discouraged, but decided to just chill it for several hours and hope for the best. My elegant puff pastry dinner was replaced with BLTs.
Later that night I decided to be fearless and finished my last two turns, chilled the dough, and then rolled out and cut my first vols-au-vents. After more chilling and crossing my fingers I popped them in the oven and waited to see if puffing would occur. I was so relieved and happy to see my cute little bowls and dots puffing up and creating lots of flaky little layers despite my struggles! (That night we ate the dots drizzled with hot fudge and sprinkled with powdered sugar.)
The next night I made another batch of vols-au-vents and we had the decadent Cashew Chicken with Parmesan Cream Sauce dinner that I had dreamed of, followed by vols-au-vents filled with rich pastry cream and topped with sweet strawberries and a delicious strawberry sauce. It was scrumptious!
Thanks Steph for picking such a fabulous challenge. Visit the Daring Bakers’ blogroll to see this month’s amazing DB creations!
Cashew Chicken with Parmesan Cream Sauce
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup cashew nuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups uncooked chicken, chopped
- 1 cup broccoli, chopped
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 3/4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
Parmesan Cream Sauce
- 2 T.butter
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat 1T. butter and cook cashews until lightly toasted. Remove nuts from pan. Heat 2T. butter, saute chicken and onions stirring often. Add chicken broth and broccoli. Cover and cook until broccoli is tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in soy sauce; stir into chicken mixture. Stir over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and add cashews.
Parmesan Cream Sauce:
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook and stir with wire whisk 1 minute. Add cream, whisking vigorously until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in Parmesan.
Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough
There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough. Here’s a printable link to the recipe for puff pastry, as well as instructions for forming vol-au-vents and some extra tips