There are so many stories and tales involving this famous dessert…many believe that it was named after Napoleon himself…but many think that it was translated wrong and it had something to do with Naples…some refer to the pastry as mille-feuille which means 1000 leaves. I guess you can believe what you will. I kind of like the story that Napoleon ate so many of these flaky pastries the night before Waterloo and that is the reason he lost! I guess one thing that most will agree is that homemade Napoleons are a good thing!
Don’t let this delicious pastry scare you…you can make them with no problem. Since the invention of puff pastry in the freezer section of your favorite store… the creation of this yummy dessert is much more simple than ever before!
All you have to do is purchase your favorite puff pastry brand, let it defrost for 40 minutes on your counter and then score each sheet into three strips (the folds will act as your guide)…then simply take a fork and prick each sheet about 10 time…you want the pastry to rise and puff but not too too much…so by doing this is controls it a bit. Now you simply place the sheets on parchment paper on a cookie sheet or you can use a lightly greased cookie sheet…either is perfect. Then you place in a pre-heated oven of 400 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes depending on your over. Check the crust out after 15 minutes to see if it is ready…it should be a nice golden brown. Mine took exactly 18 minutes. Once they are golden brown…take them out of the oven and place them on a cooling rack until they are nice and cool (approximately 1/2 and hour. Now they are ready to create with. I cut each strip in half for the Napoleons I made. Time to fill them with a luscious custard filling.
For the custard you can do 1 of 3 things! You can choose your favorite custard or pudding recipe and make it and then fold in freshly made whipped cream gently. Or you can make pudding from your favorite box brand…allow to cool COMPLETELY…chilled… and then fold in your whipped cream or you can use the recipe that I used and which is the Joy of Baking…I had to adapt it a bit so if you choose to make that recipe…I used 1/2 cup of corn starch because the mixture has to be nice and thick to hold the whipped cream and act as a perfect filling. There is a really nice video over there showing you a simple step by step…I have to tell you that the recipe was wonderful and tasted like it was made in heaven! So basically what you do is make 1 recipe of your choice of pudding and then take 1 cup of heavy cream 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat on medium high until you have nice soft peaks of whipped cream. Then you fold the whip cream into the pudding bit by bit until it is completely blended into a beautiful pastry cream. Then you assemble the Napoleon layer by layer being very generous with the cream.
Now you are going to want to make the icing top which is very very easy to do. Just take 6 tablespoons of confectioners sugar and 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Just stir in a tablespoon of cream at a time till you get a consistency that is thick and creamy. Spread it on the top just like you would ice a cake. Then for the lines…just microwave your favorite chocolate…just a little bit I would say 2 ounces or you can do it in a double boiler. Once it is melted you can put it in a pastry bag but what I did was just take a bamboo skewer and dip it into the chocolate and made straight chocolate lines across and then I ran the skewer through them to get the design! I know it sounds like a lot but it really wasn’t…I made my pudding the night before so it was a real breeze to put them together. I will tell you first hand that they are amazing and such a fabulous treat anytime. I might come up with a special one for Valentines Day so stay tuned! I so urge you to make them…you will be so happy and so will your family and friends.
Homemade Napoleons RULE!