Working as a French Pastry Chef I am beginnig to see the classics coming back. One of these happens to be the Napolean.
This is a classic French dessert recipe that never fails to impress! The French name for a Napoleon dessert is Mille Feuille, meaning "a thousand sheets" acurately describing this layered crispy puff pastry lined with a contrasting butter cream filling… absolutely delicious and oh so satisfying! You can prepare this dessert individually or as one large rectangular pastry.
Preparation Time: about 30 minutes
Cooking Time: about 20 minutes
Refrigeration Time: at least 30 minutes
1 lb. Pre-made Puff Pastry (refrigerated or frozen - both are good!)
4 cups Whole Milk
2/3 cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
7 oz. Butter (room temperature)
2 tbsp. Cornstarch
2 Vanilla Beans
10 Egg Yolks
Additional Flour to roll out pastry crust
Additional Butter for baking sheet (or use parchment paper as a lining)
Powdered Sugar to decorate
How to Make It:
Preheat oven to 400°F
1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry into a large rectangle that you will be able to cut into three even parts (once cooked, not now!). Transfer rolled out pastry onto a baking sheet (lightly buttered or else lined with parchment paper). Prick top of pastry with a fork. Cover pastry with a layer of parchment paper and place another baking sheet, of the same size, on top, to keep pastry flat. If you don't have another baking sheet, just pour rice or any dried bean over the top. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
2. Remove pastry from the refrigerator and bake (with either the additional baking sheet on top, or with the rice/beans on top) for ten minutes. Take out of oven, remove baking sheet (or rice/beans) and remove top layer of parchment paper. Put back in oven for another 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool off entirely before spreading on cream filling.
3. As your pastry is baking, you can prepare the cream filling. In a large saucepan combine the yolks and sugar and stir well. Then stir in flour, and cornstarch.
4. Cut vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds into the mixture and stir well.
5. Slowly stir in the milk until homogenous. Put the cream filling on the stove (light heat) and very gently bring to a simmer -- when you see small bubbles, take it off the heat and refrigerate.
6. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter so that it rises. Gently mix in the rest of the cream filling.
7. Once the pastry has cooled, cut it carefully (serrated knife works best) into three even parts. Using a spoon and a spatula spread a thick layer of cream filling on two parts of pastry crust. Stack these two layers and cover with the third (top) pastry piece. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar. Refrigerate until serving.
Take a look at the ideas below if you are looking for more ways to make napoleon dessert recipes! There's no shortage!
Variations for Napoleon Dessert Recipes
Chocolate Napoleon: Follow the traditional recipe above, just add chocolate to the cream filling! Use 8 oz. of unsweetened baking chocolate. Cut into small pieces and stir in as you are warming up the cream filling. Just make sure to stir enough so that the texture of the cream is completely even. You can still use the vanilla if you want, or you can leave it out.
Orange-Cream Napoleon: Follow the traditional recipe, just substitute the vanilla with 1 to 2 tbsp. of grated orange rind… depending on how strong you want it to be.
Almond Napoleon: Follow the traditional recipe, just add 3 tbsp. of ground almond powder right before adding the flour and cornstarch. Use 1 vanilla bean instead of two. Sprinkle the top of each layer with a thin coat of grilled almond slices.
Orange Blossom Napoleon: Follow the traditional recipe, just add 2 tbsp. of orange blossom water right before adding the flour and cornstarch. Use one vanilla bean instead of two.
Berry Napoleon: Follow the traditional recipe, adding a thin layer of berries on top of the cream filling. You can use raspberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries, blackberries… or anything that suits your fancy! Decorate the top with powdered sugar and with berries.
As stated above, napoleon dessert recipes can be served as one large pastry or can be made in individual portions. It's really up to you!