Fig and goats cheese vol au vents

That’s right – vol au vents. We’ve done some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff and landed squarely in the ’70s.

Fig and goats cheese vol au ventsMaybe it’s because I wasn’t around for their orange-tinted heyday that I have a soft spot for a bite-size foods. Or it could be that they leave your other hand free for a drink. The actual reason I like canapés? There’s a lot of scope for using cheese, in more ways than you could with one of those cheese boards that only feature as many varieties as cheese knives in that long-abandoned box (four).

It’s the tooth-squeak of a grilled halloumi skewer. The tongue-tingle of a good quality cheddar paired with pineapple. The nutty quality of an aged Comté. The soft ooze of burrata. If it came to it, I could give up steak, or bread, or pasta. Just don’t torture me, alone(y) without torta mascarpone.*

The cheese of the hour is goats cheese. To some people, it tastes “like a farm”. (When and why and where have all these people been licking barnyards?) But truly, it delivers an unbeatable tang that sits so wonderfully alongside sweet fruits and honey. Here, a soft goats cheese nestles with lightly honeyed caramelised onions and jammy fig to make a vol au vent that’s very much for the modern age.

*sorrynotsorry. Side note: if you ever see torta mascarpone, grab it while you can, for it is a rare and beautiful thing.

Yields 32 vol au vents


500g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
2 large white onions, sliced
1tsp honey
4 figs, cubed
125g soft goats cheese, cubed


      1. Preheat the oven to 170C and liberally flour your worktop. Roll out the pastry to around 6mm thick. Cut out circles with a 6cm cutter, then use a 4cm cutter (or the top end of a piping nozzle!) to mark out an inner circle, without going through the pastry. Prick the inside of the inner circle through with a fork a few times.
      2. Blow any excess flour of the tops, and egg wash the outer circle of each vol au vent, and bake for around 15 minutes,  until risen and golden.* Cool on a wire rack.
      3. While the cases bake and cool, caramelise the onions in a large pan, in a knob of butter over a low-medium heat. Stir every 5 minutes or so, until a deep golden brown, which will take around 30-40 minutes.** Mix in 1/2 – 1 tsp of honey,  to taste, and set aside to cool.
      4. When the cases and onions are cool, use a small sharp knife to cut the inner circle of each vol au vent out, digging out a little of the pastry inside to make some room for the fillings.
      5. Use a small spoon to half-fill each vol au vent with caramelised onion, and top with a cube of fig and goats cheese, so they’re having a little cuddle. Serve the same day – if preparing in advance and refrigerating, allow them to return to room temperature before serving.

Notes: *Some might lean to the side like the Tower of Pisa. These ones are good for nibbling on while you work.  **There’s a great slideshow of the colours to expect when caramelising onions here.

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