Napoleons are a French pastry whose exact origin is unknown. Traditionally, a mille-feuille consists of three layers of puff pastry, alternating with two layers of pastry cream or crème pâtissière. Sometimes however, it can be filled with whipped cream or jam. The top pastry layer is usually dusted with confectioner’s sugar, cocoa or an icing glaze. I am simplifying this recipe for a quick and delicious dessert that takes hardly any time to prepare.
Each Napoleon needs three pieces of pre-baked puff pastries. Cover two with pudding, strawberries or raspberries, top them with a plain piece that you can dust with powdered sugar or use a special glaze. Whatever you chose, the outcome is very pleasing and delicious.
- 1 (17.25 oz package) frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 2 (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding & pie filling
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 1/2 cups cold milk
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 2 teaspoons Nutella (topping)
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
Method For Baking The Puff Pastry:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
To make puff pastry strips: Lightly flour a clean work surface. Gently roll out dough on the counter into a 3 pre-folded rectangles about 1/8 inch thick. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut rectangle crosswise into thirds. Transfer to a baking sheet; pierce the dough all over with a fork. Top with a cookie rack to keep the dough from rising.
Transfer the cookie sheet to the oven; bake until strips are golden all over, about 15-20 minutes. Continue baking if needed until pastry is cooked through and well browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, trim each strip if needed to make even baked strips.
Method For The Pastry Cream or Pudding:
In a bowl of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until hard peaks form; set aside.
In another bowl, mix the instant vanilla pudding with cold milk for 2 minutes. Gently fold the whipped heavy cream.
To assemble the Napoleons:
Dividing evenly, put a large dollop of pudding (2 to 3 tablespoons) on 4 of the 6 pastry pieces; top with strawberries and a little more pudding. For each Napoleon, stack two pieces of pastry already topped with pudding and strawberries. Save 2 pastry pieces plain for the top.
To make the glaze:
Combine the melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 teaspoon milk until you get a thick consistency. Using an offset spatula, spread this mixture over the plain side of the puff pastry strip, making sure to coat entire surface.
Place Nutella in a ziplog bag and microwave until melted, about 20 seconds. Cut a small slit on the pointed side of the bag and pipe thin lines 3/4 inch apart across. To create the distinctive flourish, gently drag the tip of a paring knife, toothpick or a skewer lengthwise through both coatings, in lines perpendicular to the icing sugar mixture. Begin at one of the short ends, and make each line 3/4 inch apart. Alternate the direction each time. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill 30 minutes uncovered. Using a long serrated knife, cut into six pieces, and serve.