Puff pastry is a very easy product to work with, which is one of the reasons that it is a staple in many bakers’ freezers. It helps that it has a wonderfully light, crispy and flaky texture and a buttery flavor, too. Homemade puff pastry is great when you have a bit of time to make it, but store-bought is the way to go most of the time for the sake of convenience and reliability. You can shape the pastry into tarts and turnovers, as well as using it in sheets. If you’re going the store-bought pastry route to begin with, you can also take a shortcut when it comes to shaping the pastry by buying ready made pastry cases, like Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells. Available in two sizes, these pre-cut discs of pastry bake up into vol-au-vent (hollow, cylinders of puff pastry) that can be treated like tart shells and filled with a variety of hot and cold, savory and sweet fillings.
The star-shaped discs of pastry baked up beautifully, rising high and golden brown above the baking sheet, just like the picture on the box. I defrosted them completely before baking, as I would with puff pastry. They were easy to use and held up well to liquid/wet fillings without becoming mushy. For these, you pull off the top circle – helpfully labeled “top” – to create a pocked that is ready to fill. The top can be replaced or simply eaten. I opted for the latter.
The only drawback to using these is value compared to starting with sheets of pastry. While you have the convenience of ready-to-use pastry cases, you only get six in a box (of the large size; more in a box of minis). That said, unless you’re really planning to go all out for a huge gathering, six should be plenty most of the time. I would still get them again because the results were good, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re going to need a lot.