I worked, one summer, at a local bakery that is well-known for its coffees and sweet delights. While working there, I learned a few “tricks of the trade,” and must say, was quite surprised at the effort versus the presentation.
One of the most requested desserts was something called a Napoleon. There are several versions of where this dessert got its name…Bonaparte’s love of this dessert being one of them. But, no matter where it got its name, or what the name is, it is delicious, and, rather easy. Anyhow, it looked as though these desserts took effort and time to prepare, but the fancy shmancy look of these treats is deceiving…they are easy to make!
No matter…in honor of the 4th of July…Independence Day…
I am going to give you a Napoleon recipe. Listed below will be two versions: the fast and easy, and one that takes a little more time. And, since it’s a 4th of July recipe…we’ll do them in star shapes (provided you have a star cookie cutter)!
The Fast and Easy Napoleons
1 regular size pk. french vanilla pudding
1 c. milk
2 c. whipping cream, whipped or 2 c. frozen whipped topping
1 box puff pastry
2 lbs. strawberries
1 c. white chocolate chip
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Mix pudding mix with wire whisk until smooth. Fold in whipping cream or whipped topping. Cover this mixture and place in the refrigerator.
Unroll slightly thawed puff pastry on lightly floured surface. It should unroll into three rectangular sections. Take the star cookie cutter. Dip edges lightly in flour and then proceed to cut stars out of pastry. There needs to be 3 stars for each Napoleon. Bake pastry stars on ungreased baking sheet in preheated 400° oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until pastries are puffed up and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
Melt white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chips separately, in microwave safe bowls, at 10 second increments (stirring in between each increment) until melted smooth. Put each type in separate zip baggies, let air out, and zip closed.
Now, for assembly:
Place one pastry star on cookie sheet, or platter. Either pipe, or spread on, a 1 inch thick layer of pastry cream/pudding mixture. Place another pastry star on top of the filling, spread 1/2 inch of filling, then place thinly sliced strawberries on top of this filling, and spread another 1/2 inch layer of filling. Place the third pastry star on the top of the last layer of filling. Place another layer of pastry filling, then another layer of sliced strawberries on top.
Snip the very tip ends of the bags with chocolate. Use these bags with a slight amount of pressure, and drizzle white chocolate, then chocolate on top. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
Everything will be the same with the second version, as the first, except the pastry cream. This recipe is for homemade pastry cream:
2 c. evaporated milk
1/4 c. white sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/3 c. white sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. whipping cream, whipped
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the milk and 1/4 c. sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg. Stir together the cornstarch and remaining sugar; then stir them into the egg until smooth. When the milk mixture comes to a boil, drizzle it into the egg bowl in a thin stream while mixing, to temper the eggs (and prevent them from scrambling!). Return the mixture to the saucepan, ad slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly so that the eggs don’t curdle or scorch on the bottom.
When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens,remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla, mixing until butter is completely blended in. Pour into a heat-proof container, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming on the top. Refrigerate until chilled before using.
Gently fold in whipping cream just before using.