Whipped Creams, Ganache, And Fruit

fruit-filled vols-au-vent
The dessert fillings for my vols-au-vent were just heavenly. Even if you're not planning to make the vols-au-vent or don't even want to do anything with puff pastry, you could still incorporate these fillings and toppings into other desserts, so check them out!

Homemade Whipped Cream

The whipped cream that I use as my go-to whipped cream is actually called chantilly cream. I never measure out my ingredients when I make it. I just pour some heavy whipping cream in my KitchenAid, whip it up a little, add a few spoonfuls of confectioner's sugar and a teaspoon or so of vanilla, and then continue whipping until it's the right consistency for dolloping on a plate or on top of some fruit (between medium and stiff peaks). And of course I taste as I go to see if it's sweet enough.

fruit-filled vols-au-vent
Caramel Whipped Cream

Around this time last year, I made a birthday cake for my boyfriend with caramel whipped cream. I looked up that cake recipe in The Modern Baker, so I could make another attempt at the caramel whipped cream, which didn't taste too "caramelly" the first time I made it. I thought it would be delicious on top of the vols-au-vent with caramelized apples or warm bananas, as long as I had better luck with the caramelizing this time around.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of water in a heavy saucepan and stir well to mix. Using medium heat, cook undisturbed until the sugar begins to melt and caramelize -- you'll see a few wisps of smoke coming out of the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally so that the sugar melts and caramelizes evenly.

Meanwhile pour 1/4 cup of heavy cream in a second small saucepan and heat gently.

Remove the caramel from the heat when it is still very pale (the sugar will continue to darken off the heat).

As soon as the cream has some bubbles around the edge, add it to the caramel at arm's length, averting your face -- the caramel will boil up and may splatter out of the pan.

Pour the diluted caramel into a medium bowl and cool it to room temperature.

Whip 1 1/4 cups heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla in electric mixer. Add the cooled caramel and continue whipping until medium peaks form. Chill until ready to use.

Verdict: Still a little weak on the caramel taste. I might double the amount of caramel next time.

caramelized apples and warm bananas
Caramelized Apples

For these I just peeled and chopped up some apples, threw them in a pan with some butter and cinnamon, and sauteed them until they were soft. They're best served warm.

fruit-filled vols-au-vent
Warm Bananas

A while ago I mentioned that I love Francois Payard's chocolate granola recipe from Chocolate Epiphany. Technically, the granola is supposed to be served over these warm bananas topped with yogurt. I don't have that much time in the morning, so I usually just toss the granola in some yogurt. But I had a thought that the bananas might be a perfect addition to the vols-au-vent.

Saute 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of butter. Add 2 peeled and sliced bananas and cook just until bananas are warm. I think these bananas over Nutella-filled vols-au-vent were everyone's favorite.

fruit-filled vols-au-vent
Chocolate Ganache

Ganache is one of the easiest things to make. I made this the night of the party and left it out on the counter so it would thicken a little but not too much. It's basically a mixture of heavy cream and chocolate, and you can dress it up a bit with different flavorings. I just used vanilla extract.

Bring 3/4 cup heavy cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add 8 ounces of chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet), and 1 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.

Use right after it cools slightly if you want it pourable. Leave on counter to thicken more for other uses -- frosting, filling, etc.

To go with everything above, I also served raspberries, chopped strawberries, kiwi, and mangoes. And I set out a shaker of basil sugar -- simply divine with the strawberries and whipped cream.

Sometimes the simplest things can be combined to make the most spectacular dishes. What sounds like the best filling or combinations of fillings to you?