Napoleon (Mille-Feuille) Cakes with Strawberries and Chocolate

Wouldn’t you agree that anything French sounds so romantic? I could just close my eyes and listen to the beautiful flow of French accompanied by the imaginary views of Eiffel tower and kissing couples. And I wouldn’t worry a tiny bit that I don’t understand a single word… well, almost… I do know a few like merci and papillon :) But then I thought that opposed to day dreaming it would be much more useful to make a cake with a French name and so, may I present to you my version of Napoleon, which in French called as Mille-Feuille!

napoleon

Mille-feuille, literally translated as thousand leaves, is a classic French patisserie, traditionally made with three layers of pâte feuilletée (puff pastry), layered with creme patiserrie, whipped cream or jam and dusted with icing sugar or fondant or chocolate. The exact origin of the mille-feuille is unknown. François Pierre La Varenne described a version in Le Cuisinier françois, 1651. It was later improved by Marie-Antoine Carême. Carême, writing in the early 19th century, considered it of “ancient origin”.

Source:
Description of Mille-feuille: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mille-feuille Retrieved on June 14, 2013

Ok, enough of history, let’s get cooking!

While I slightly simplified my Napoleons by using only two layers, there is nothing traditional about them as I added some glamor to them with strawberries and dark chocolate!

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Servings: Will yield 18 individual Napoleon cakes (be nice and share with your friends, or…. divide all ingredients in half and make a smaller batch)

Ingredients:

3 puff pastry sheets (I use puff pastry sheets by Pepperidge Farm: http://www.puffpastry.com/products but any other puff pastry sheets should be fine)
3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 tea spoon vanilla sugar
8 oz mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
3 tea spoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (divided) confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1 lb fresh strawberries (thinly sliced)
Piece of good dark chocolate

napoleon-2

How to make Napoleon (Mille-Feuille) Cakes with Strawberries and Chocolate:

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. It is easier to work with frozen dough. Take out pastry sheets out of the freezer and let them thaw for about 5 minutes. Divide each puff pastry sheet into 6 equal squares – 5 X 5 inches. I used ruler to make even, clean lines. This helps with finished individual Napoleons to look all uniform. You can use either knife or pastry cutting wheel to make squares.

napoleon-3

3. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and place squares of pastry. No need to use baking spray or oil. Pastry sheets have enough butter in them, so they won’t stick. Place in the oven, reduce temperature to 400F and bake for 15-17 minutes, depending on your oven. Your pastry squares should develop golden color.

napoleon-4

4. Take out pastry squares out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes on a baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

napoleon-6

5. Meanwhile make the cream. Using a hand electric mixer, work the wiping cream and sugar (regular and vanilla) on high speed into soft peaks. Don’t overbeat it… if you do, it will become clumpy or even turn into butter!

6. Add mascarpone cream and 1 tea spoon of lemon juice to wiping cream/sugar mixture and mix on the lowest speed just to incorporate and blend. Delicious and silky-smooth cream is ready.

napoleon-5

7. During baking each of the pastry squares will puff up. Using serrated knife (the one you use to slice the bread) slice each square lengthwise into 2 layers. You will use 2 layers of each pastry square to make individual Napoleons.

napoleon-7

8. Slice strawberries thinly (best to use a mandolin) and drizzle with a tea spoon of lemon juice. Depending on how sweet the strawberries are, you may want to also add a little sugar. Carefully mix taking care not to break the strawberry slices.

9. Using spatula scoop some cream and generously spread on each layer of pastry. Top bottom layer with strawberry slices and cover with another layer cream down. Continue until all of your Napoleons are assembled.

10. Dust top of cakes with confectioners’ sugar. Make some chocolate shavings and sprinkle them on top. I love the slight bitterness of dark chocolate combined with sweet cream! Now, let’s add some color contrast by adding strawberry flowers, hearts or other fun shapes. Use small cookie cutters to cut them out of strawberry pieces. Totally optional, but doesn’t it look lovely?

napoleon-9

Note: Napoleons with strawberries are best to be enjoyed on the same day as strawberry slices will wilt if cakes are kept overnight.

So there you have it – easy enough for a delicious cake with a romantic name Mille-Feuille… well, you get it – Napoleon. Yay! Another French word in my lexique.

Enjoy!

dina-signature

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Napoleon (Mille-Feuille) Cakes with Strawberries and Chocolate
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Napoleon (Mille-Feuille) Cakes with Strawberries and Chocolate
Author:
Recipe type: Cake, Desert
Cuisine: French
Serves: 18
Ingredients
  • 3 puff pastry sheets (I use puff pastry sheets by Pepperidge Farm: http://www.puffpastry.com/products but any other puff pastry sheets should be fine)
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tea spoon vanilla sugar
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
  • 3 tea spoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (divided) confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  • 1 lb fresh strawberries (thinly sliced)
  • Piece of good dark chocolate
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. It is easier to work with frozen dough. Take out pastry sheets out of the freezer and let them thaw for about 5 minutes. Divide each puff pastry sheet into 6 equal squares – 5 X 5 inches. I used ruler to make even, clean lines. This helps with finished individual Napoleons to look all uniform. You can use either knife or pastry cutting wheel to make squares.
  3. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and place squares of pastry. No need to use baking spray or oil. Pastry sheets have enough butter in them, so they won’t stick. Place in the oven, reduce temperature to 400F and bake for 15-17 minutes, depending on your oven. Your pastry squares should develop golden color.
  4. Take out pastry squares out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes on a baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile make the cream. Using a hand electric mixer, work the wiping cream and sugar (regular and vanilla) on high speed into soft peaks. Don’t overbeat it… if you do, it will become clumpy or even turn into butter!
  6. Add mascarpone cream and 1 tea spoon of lemon juice to wiping cream/sugar mixture and mix on the lowest speed just to incorporate and blend. Delicious and silky-smooth cream is ready.
  7. During baking each of the pastry squares will puff up. Using serrated knife (the one you use to slice the bread) slice each square lengthwise into 2 layers. You will use 2 layers of each pastry square to make individual Napoleons.
  8. Slice strawberries thinly (best to use a mandolin) and drizzle with a tea spoon of lemon juice. Depending on how sweet the strawberries are, you may want to also add a little sugar. Carefully mix taking care not to break the strawberry slices.
  9. Using spatula scoop some cream and generously spread on each layer of pastry. Top bottom layer with strawberry slices and cover with another layer cream down. Continue until all of your Napoleons are assembled.
  10. Dust top of cakes with confectioners’ sugar. Make some chocolate shavings and sprinkle them on top. I love the slight bitterness of dark chocolate combined with sweet cream! Now, let’s add some color contrast by adding strawberry flowers, hearts or other fun shapes. Use small cookie cutters to cut them out of strawberry pieces. Totally optional.Napoleons with strawberries are best to be enjoyed on the same day as strawberry slices will wilt if cakes are kept overnight. Enjoy!

 

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