How to Make Puff Pastry Shells – Vol au Venting!

As promised, here’s the video for how to make your own puff pastry shells, or vol au vents, as they'd be called in France, and select U.S. locations. These are fairly simple to make, and once baked the real fun begins, as they can hold so many amazing fillings, both sweet and savory.

The key is making sure your puff pastry dough is very firm, and very cold, preferably still partially frozen, before you start cutting it. You want nice clean cuts, because if you mash the layers of pastry together, your shells will not rise as high, and they can also bake into some strange shapes. Having said that, even though I was filming, and working way too slowly, these still came out pretty well.

Once they’re filled they look great, so it’s not that big of a deal, but in general, the colder the dough, the nicer the final product. Other than being too rough with the dough, the other common mistake is under cooking. Your shells might look beautiful at 15 minutes, but may still be kind of raw inside. As long as the outside is not getting too dark, don’t be afraid to let them bake a bit longer.

Regarding the scraps. You can’t re-roll the trimmed puff pastry and have the shells come out the same, but what you can do is cut it into irregular shapes, egg wash it, and dust with cinnamon and sugar. Once baked to a crispy, golden-brown, you’ll have a great little sweet treat to serve with coffee or tea. I hope you give this easy and fun technique a try very soon. Enjoy!