“Napoleon” to American English speakers, “millefeuille” to French speakers
This classic French concoction is a lucious dessert that has been enjoyed since 1651 when chef Pierre-François de la Varenne created it. It was perfected by culinary genius Antonin Carême about 150 years later. Contrary to what the American name would suggest, this dessert was never enjoyed by Napoléon. The French name “millefeuille” translates to “a thousand sheets,” probably referring to the texture of the puff pastry, known as “pâte feuilletée.”
For me, the perfect millefeuille must have 2 layers of cream and 3 layers of pastry. The puff pastry must be well-cooked… a brown caramel color. The pastry cream should be as creamy and light as possible while still holding form.
My millefeuille was almost perfect… it was really one of the best millefeuilles that I have tasted. Just 2 little notes: one, the cream was just a little too consistant. It held wonderfully, but I would have liked it to live a little more dangerously – a little lighter and creamier, just thick enough to hold its form. When I find the right recipe, I’ll post it. If you have one, don’t hesitate to let me know. Two, my layers of pastry crust were a bit thick, but to be honest, that’s how I like them! They are crunchy and melt in your mouth, but they stand up pretty well to your spoon or fork. I would suggest eating them with a knife and fork rather than a spoon as Bastien and I did.
Pastry cream sandwiched by crunchy layers of puff pastry
Recipe for Napoleons or Millefeuilles:
Making this dessert is not very difficult but there are a few steps and you could use a pastry thermometer. You need 5 things:1. Puff pastry (recipe coming soon) 2. Pastry cream 3. Fondant (recipe coming soon) 4. Melted chocolate 5. A little nappage, or apricot jam (or any jam really) …
Make your fondant first. This can be kept in the fridge for months.
Roll the puff pastry into a large rectangle about 2cm thick and prick many times with a fork. Cook on a baking sheet at around 420°F or 220°C. Depending on your oven, it should cook for 20-30 minutes. Just until it has a good caramelized color. Remove and allow to cool. Then slice your rectangle into 3 equal parts. Generally, 3 long rectangles. But you can cut circles if you prefer a circular cake.
Make your pastry cream. While the cream is still warm, spread half of it on a rectangle of puff pastry, then cover with a second rectangle. Spread the rest of the cream, and cover with the last rectangle. Heat your nappage or jam, and using a pastry brush, brush a very thin layer onto the top layer of puff pastry. Place in the fridge while preparing the next part.
Prepare a cornet of melted chocolate, or fill a plastic baggie with melted chocolate and cut a tiny hole in the corner. Set aside while you prepare the fondant.
Take your fondant and heat it in a saucepan stirring nonstop until it is no longer cold, but not warm either. If you heat it too much, it won’t be shiny when it sets. Add a little water or sugar syrup to thin the fondant until you have a very thick but pourable “syrup.” Pour the fondant onto the Napoleon and quickly spread using an icing palet or large knife to create a thin even layer. Draw the lines in chocolate and using a knife, strike through the lines in alternating directions.
Allow to set in the fridge until serving.