Super-easy gluten free Puff Pastry Baskets (or Vol au Vents) with ready-made puff pastry. Fill with homemade Nutella or anything else (sweet or savoury). Read on to find out how… (+ Video)
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Puff Pastry Baskets or Vol au Vents?
I’ve called this recipe ‘Puff Pastry Baskets’… But I guess in reality they are also Vol au Vents. Being a child of the 70’s, ‘Vol au Vents’ feel very retro and a little passé. They were a thing served up on the buffet at ‘grown up’ parties… Usually filled with tinned tuna, or some sort of tasteless cheese spread. And while I loved the pastry idea, the 70’s Vol au Vent experience didn’t really create great foodie memories.
So, forgive me. In an attempt to make these tasty little bites a little more appealing, I have decided to call my efforts Puff Pastry Baskets… And I have filled them with a deliciously large spoonful of easy Homemade ‘Nutella’.
What pastry should I use to make Puff Pastry Baskets?
The easiest option for Puff Pastry Baskets is a commercial ready-rolled puff pastry which will save you shed-loads of time and effort.
If you are not gluten free, ready-rolled shop puff pastry is extremely easy to come by. In the UK, most supermarkets stock it readily in the chiller aisles. If you are Coeliac or a gluten avoider however, it can be a little harder to source.
Again, in the UK, we do have access to ready-rolled puff pastry made by Jus Rol, which also happens to be Vegan and allergen-friendly, making it accessible for most people. Like its glutenous cousin, it can be found in supermarket chillers (either in the ‘free from’ section or with the mainstream pastry).
If for any reason, you are unable to find ready-rolled puff pastry, it is fine to use a puff pastry block and carefully roll yourself. It will still be good for these Pastry Baskets. In the UK Genius makes a frozen non-vegan gluten free version. And I believe that if you are in the States (and possibly some other places), you can get gluten free puff pastry made by Schär.
Tips and tricks for making successful Puff Pastry Baskets
Puff Pastry Baskets are actually pretty easy to make. All you need (once your pastry is rolled) are a couple of sharp cookie cutters (or similar), a cup and pastry brush… plus a baking tray and an oven. As for ingredients… It’s simply the pastry and a little milk or egg wash. So, is there anything you need to know to make the pastry baskets light and crisp?
Use sharp-edged cutters
When choosing the cutters for making puff pastry baskets, it is really important that both cutters have a good sharp edge. If your cutters are rounded or ‘lipped’ and blunt (such as the top of a glass), they will squash the edge of the pastry as they cut. Squashed edges lead to compressed layers in the dough… And that seems to result in wonky or poor rise in the pastry basket. So, in addition to sharp edges, be careful to cut straight down too.
I can’t say whether this is the same for normal wheat pastry, but it has certainly been my experience with gluten free pastry (which can struggle to gain height in the first place).
Make Puff Pastry Baskets of any shape
You can make your Puff Pastry Baskets any shape, but choose cutters of a medium size. Before you start cutting, make sure that you have a suitable smaller second cutter that will provide enough of a ‘basket’ to fill, but still leave a reasonable edge to form the sides.
In the past, I have made Puff Pastry Baskets shaped as circles, squares, triangles and even Christmas trees. Be creative!
Milk or egg wash?
I usually use an egg wash when glazing pastry, made from an egg beaten with a little milk. The rich yellow yolk helps to provide a crisp, golden exterior to the bake, whether Pastry Baskets or something else.
If you are vegan or egg-intolerant however, it is fine to use a milk-wash instead of egg. Equally, if you are dairy free, use a non-dairy milk alternative to stick and glaze the Puff Pastry Baskets. Just bear in mind that the baked glaze may be lighter.
I’ve provided a little video that I made (below) to take you through the steps of making Puff Pastry Baskets. And yes… The eagle-eyed will notice that for the Nutella baskets in the photographs, I did a naff job at sticking the pastry together before baking… Hence the rather obvious ‘seam’. Actually, I quite like it!
Baking Puff Pastry Baskets
While it’s important to have a good oven temperature, I would not recommend it is ultra-hot. About 190 C is good for vol au vents and will support the rise and bake so that the baskets are structurally good.
Homemade or shop-bought Nutella?
My Puff Pastry Baskets are of the sweet variety and have been filled with a generous spoon of Homemade ‘Nutella’. Homemade Nutella is rich and delicious… Less sweet than the shop bought variety, with more nuts and a deep cocoa hit from the real melted chocolate it contains. Because it is homemade, it can also be made Vegan with minimal thought. And… It is healthier than the branded version.
If you don’t want to make your own Chocolate Hazelnut Spread however, you’re good to use actual Nutella, or one of the other many alternatives now commercially available in the supermarkets.
Can I fill Puff Pastry Baskets with anything else?
But why stop at ‘Nutella’? Puff Pastry Baskets can be filled with anything… sweet or savoury. From whipped custards, creams and mousses with fruit or jelly… To whipped cream cheese, paté, Caramelised Onion Hummus, plain houmous, tuna-mayo, Baba Ganoush and even Guacamole.
The choice is yours… Let your imagination run wild.
When to Eat Puff Pastry Baskets…
Or should that be when ‘not’ to eat Puff Pastry Baskets? Although usually associated with Christmas, parties and buffet tables, in my humble opinion, Pastry Baskets can be made and enjoyed at any time of the year… They are so quick and easy to make. And that makes them perfect for a night in front of the TV with a good film, as well as with lunch boxes, picnics, or nibbles with drinks.
Ready to make Easy Puff Pastry Baskets?
So, why not give these easy Puff Pastry Baskets a try? If you make them, let me know how you get on. Leave a comment and tag me on Social Media (#glutenfreealchemist). And if you love them… share with anyone you know who might appreciate the recipe. That seems to be how it works in the gluten free world… word of mouth is our best support!
A little Video to show you how to make Vol au Vents/Pastry Baskets
Puff Pastry Baskets with Nutella (or any other filling)
- sharp-edged cookie cutters
- small cup
- kitchen paper
- 280 g ready-rolled puff pastry sheet gluten free/vegan if required = 1 sheet OR a block of ready-made puff pastry, rolled to about 3-4 mm thickness
- 1 egg (or just milk if vegan or egg-intolerant)
- dash milk dairy free if required
- Nutella or alternative filling For homemade Nutella see link in NOTES
- Pre-heat the oven to 190 C/375 F/Gas 5 (180 C for fan oven).
- Take the ready-rolled puff pastry sheet and unroll (keeping on the baking paper). If you have a pastry block, use a rolling pin and roll to a thickness of 3 to 4 mm.
- Select a medium-sized sharp-edged cookie cutter of choice and (before you start cutting) make sure you also have a suitable smaller second cutter that will provide enough of a ‘basket’ to fill, but still leave a reasonable edge to form the sides. (See NOTES)
- Use the larger cookie cutter and close-cut shapes from the entire pastry sheet (being careful to avoid as much wastage as possible).
- Using the smaller sharp-edged cutter, cut a circle (or shape) from the middle of HALF of the larger pieces. These will form the top layer of the pastry baskets.
- Set the small cut middle aside to be baked along with the rest of the pastry as 'nibbles', or to top the filling on the final baskets.
- Make the egg-wash by fork-beating an egg with a dash of milk in a cup (or just pour a little milk into a cup if not using egg).
- Brush the top of each larger piece of cut pastry with egg-wash or milk using a pastry brush. This piece will form the base of the pastry basket and the egg/milk will provide wetness to stick the two pastry pieces together.
- Place a pastry outer 'ring' onto each moistened pastry base and gently press to stick together.
- Brush the outer ridge with egg-wash or milk.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and transfer the uncooked dough baskets to the tray, along with the cut middles.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and golden.
- Remove from the oven when baked and (if the pastry has seeped oil), transfer immediately onto a piece of kitchen paper to absorb the excess from the base of the pastry baskets.
- Leave to cool.
- Once cool, gently push the central 'circle' down (which is likely to have puffed up from the base) using either a small-ended rolling pin or finger to make a basket.
- Take a spoon of Nutella or any other filling of choice and fill the pastry baskets. If you wish, you can top with the cooked pastry middles.
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