I’ve wanted to make a napoleon for a few years now. What took me so long?
Well, I had always imagined I would make my own puff pastry before doing so, but the opportunity never really presented itself. However, recently I happened to have an extra sheet of thawed puff pastry after making some pot pies, so rather than do something kind of boring (like turnovers), I decided to try napoleons.
If you like puff pastry, you will quite possibly adore these.
The one thing I would do differently next time is not use the full two tablespoons of liqueur for thinning the pastry cream – the alcohol taste was too strong for me. Instead, I would do something like one tablespoon Grand Marnier and 1 tablespoon half and half or milk.
I also would prefer to use (well, purchase first, as I don’t currently possess one) a blow torch for caramelizing the sugar. The pastry didn’t puff up perfectly evenly due to the wire rack I used, so my pastry burned a bit where it was higher (and therefore closer to the broiler), and the sugar barely melted where the pastry was further away from the heating element. I made do, and it still tasted good. (Just spread the cream a little more, and no one is the wiser.)
Really, it’s puff pastry, whipped cream folded into pastry cream, and fresh berries – what’s not to like?
Mille-Feuille Napoleon with Crème Baumanière
adapted from The Secrets of Baking
1 9×15 inch sheet puff pastry (thawed if using frozen pastry)
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 recipe Pastry Cream
1 cup stiffly whipped heavy cream
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 cups raspberries
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat to 425*F.
Place puff pastry on baking sheet lined with parchment, top with a second sheet of parchment and a wire rack to prevent the pastry from puffing up too much. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350*F and bake another 15 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
Stir Grand Marnier into 1/2 cup pastry cream (use remaining pastry cream in another dish), then fold in whipped cream to make the Crème Baumanière. Chill.
Place rack 3 inches from broiler and preheat broiler.
Cut pastry into three 3×15 inch rectangles with a bread knife, gently sawing back and forth. Place one rectangle on baking sheet and sprinkle completely with confectioners’ sugar. Broil until caramelized (if you have a blow torch, that will be much easier than the broiler). Remove from broiler and set aside; this will be the top of the napoleon.
Place one rectangle of pastry on a serving platter. Top with 1/2 cup Crème Baumanière, spread evenly over the pastry. Top with half the raspberries, pressing gently into the cream. Spread 1/2 cup cream over the berries then top with another 1/2 cup cream. Top with second piece of pastry.
Cut into 8 slices with serrated knife. If necessary, realign layers.
Spread remaining cream on second layer, then top with berries. Place caramelized layer on top, then dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into pieces following the cuts made on the bottom layer.