Vol au Vent-ing Some Stress

After suddenly disappearing from the blogosphere for about two weeks, I was hoping to just move on and pretend like nothing happened. So far it seems to be working, with not one peep of protest about my irregular posting schedule, and not a single complaint about the wreckage I’ve created on all of my recipe pages trying to add links to printer-friendly versions to varying degrees of success. Has anyone even noticed? What seem like huge changes to me appear to hardly constitute a blip in the collective blog reader’s radar. Nonetheless, I want to come clean- All of this blog neglect stems from yet another new project I’ve taken on, a bigger one than I was thinking of tackling any time soon. Believe it or not, I’m finally getting serious about a career, and decided to get my degree in photography.

Perhaps it was all of the back-to-school hype that finally got to me, but after researching various programs, I found online classes that seemed almost too good to be true. A flexible schedule, no set classroom hours, the ability to move at your own pace, and of course, getting to learn the technical aspects of an art form I’ve been trying to master merely through trial and error… It’s a truly wonderful new opportunity to further my skills.

So I may be a bit short on time in the upcoming months, and for that I apologize. I’ll work on keeping a steady flow of new content from here on in, but I may not be able to keep up with everyone else’s blogs. I’ll still be reading every last one of them though, (all 500+ that I’m subscribed to) even if I’m not commenting.

That being said, time constraints became a much bigger obstacle in complete this month’s Daring Baker challenge than I had originally imagined!

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.

Thrilled to tackle yet another “dream pastry challenge” on my list, I honed in on that puff pastry, determined to make it the star of the show. While the fillings typically are what make the dessert unique and bring it to life, there’s simply no reason why the flaky pastry base shouldn’t add just as much flavor and excitement. From the get-go, I knew I wanted to make chocolate puff pastry.

What to fill it with was another story altogether- Brainstorms ranged from luscious mousses to fresh fruit jellies, with ornate caramel decorations and perhaps a handful of chocolate caviar to top them all off. Unfortunately, those ideas came before I registered for my new classes, and failed to come to fruition. Scrambling to pull anything decent together at the last moment possible, I had no choice but to scale back on my grand plans in a big way.

Simple, but still plenty tasty, my cocoa puff pastry shells were filled to the brim with homemade lemon verbena-blueberry jam, and just a tiny dollop of my all-time favorite dessert topper, Soyatoo. After laboring for so long on the pastry, I was okay with taking the easy way out this time around, lest I run out of time to study or be forced to forfeit this month’s challenge altogether. Hopefully next time around, I’ll be able to dedicate more time and attention to my baking!