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Garlicky buttered snails served in little light vol-au-vent cases, what a treat for all snail lovers! Living in France gives me access to some wonderful escargots, as well as superb garlic and butter too. These are just brilliant when served as appetisers for New Year or any other festive gathering. The beauty of these over the classic snails served in a baker or in their shells, is that you can eat the WHOLE thing! EVERY single bit of that naughty but exceedingly nice garlic and herb butter, all in one amazing mouthful! If you are unable to get hold of mini vol-au-vents, I have posted an alternative way to make your own little puff pastry cases, using readymade pastry for ease of preparation! Allow 2 to 3 per person if these are being served with other nibbles and appetisers. (Prep time includes baking the cases if not using readymade vol-au-vent cases.)
Garlic Herb Butter
- 4 -6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature (225g)
- 3 tablespoons finely minced parsley
- 3 tablespoons cups finely minced chives
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 pinch of freshly grated black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Pernod or 1 tablespoon pastis
- 24 very large top-quality canned snails, drained
- 24 puff pastry, cases (mini vol-au-vent cases)
- readymade sheet puff pastry
- Mince the garlic and salt together and crush with the blade of a knife to make a paste. Put the butter in a large bowl (or the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), add the garlic paste, and cream together.
- Add the parsley, chives, shallots, pepper, lemon juice, and Pernod or Pastis and mix well. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to make certain the ingredients are distributed throughout the butter.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 12 hours. (Any extra herb butter is wonderful melted over meats or fish.).
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). With a small 1/4 inch round biscuit/cookie cutter, cut 24 rounds from the puff pastry and then run a knife around inside the pastry disc leaving a narrow rim - this will be your lid later!. Arrange the puff pastry rounds on the baking sheet. Bake them for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and well risen. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly.Remove the inner pre-scored "lid" and hollow out the middle a little to make a hole for the snail and butter later!
- If using ready-made vol-au-vent cases, arrange them on a well greased baking tray and add the snails as below now.
- Place or gently push a snail in to each of the cooked vol-au-vent cases and top with garlic butter, the butter can be piped or spooned over the snails — if desired, transfer it to a pastry bag without a tip or with a large plain tip. Re-heat them in a pre-heated oven, 450°F (230°C), for about 2 to 5 minutes on a LOW shelf, and keep checking that the pastry is not browning too quickly - what you are looking for is BUBBLING melted butter and NOT burnt pastry!
- Remove them as soon as the butter has melted and serve straight away with a shot of Pastis and lots of paper napkins! (If you have any lids, top the buttered snails with a little pastry lid.).