I think that anyone who cooks has certain things that either drive them batty as they do them or that they are just scared to even attempt. Normally, there isn’t much I won’t attempt to cook but I have to admit, working with puff pastry has always terrified me. I’m not sure why. I mean, I know what it is and I even know how it’s made. But the delicate flakiness of things made with it has always scared me away. I just knew I would mess up. Well, guess what? I was right. :-PÂ Weren’t expecting that were you? You thought I was going to say that I no longer had any fear and that I had mastered working with the buttery devil named puff pastry. Nope. But… maybe.
I can’t say I have mastered it. I have tried to make a tart shell three times and all I end up with is one hell of a puff pastry balloon. Yes, I prick it all over, but it still rises and in no way resembles a shell. A flaky doughnut maybe, but not a shell. Mind you, the doughnut thing had me half tempted to fill it with a thick cream and call it a puff pastry doughnut and I may still do that, but you can’t use that as a tart shell. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong but I will not be defeated!!! They may take my puff pastry but they won’t take my freeeeedommmmmmmm!!!!
Erhmmmm. Sorry. As usual I got a bit carried away. Plus, now I want to break out the DVD of Braveheart and watch it. All except for the one scene where Mel Gibsons girlfriend gets her throat slashed. I always close my eyes for that one. I’m a violence wimp.
Back to puff pastry. So I gave up on the tart shell idea… for now; JUST for now and I decided to make Napoleons. I know…. first grade puff pastry work but it still tastes fantastic. Add in some juicy lime scented berries and a white chocolate pastry cream and this is heavenly. Also approximately 70000 calories but if you drink a diet coke while you’re eating it, it negates all the fat and calories 😀 So don’t be a timid wuss like me.Â Break out the puff pastry and make this. And…ummm… if you figure out how to make a tart shell that doesn’t look like you need to attach a string to it and give it to a small child, let me know 😛
Napoleons With White Chocolate Pastry Cream & Lime Scented Berries
White Chocolate Pastry Cream-
- 1Â cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise or one teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 10 to 12 ounce bag white chocolate pieces (I used Ghirardellis)
- Place the milk, half the sugar and the vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Combine the egg yolks and the remaining sugar in a bowl and whisk until light in color. Add in the flour and the salt, mix to combine.
- When the milk just begins to boil, remove from heat and remove vanilla bean. Very slowly dribble the hot milk into the yolk mixture, stirring all the time. When about half of the milk has been added, place all of the yolk mixture into the saucepan over medium heat. Using a spatula or a whisk, mix the pastry cream as it heats, making sure to reach all of the corners of the pan when you stir. Bring the mixture to a boil. Let boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. The mixture will be thick.
- Remove from heat and add the butter and white chocolate. Stir until the white chocolate melts. This can take a few minutes. Strain if you wish for a smoother cream. Place into a bowl and cover directly with plastic wrap to stop a skin from forming on the cream. Chill and use within a few days.
Puff Pastry Squares
- 17 ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed
- coarse sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 2 13×9 baking sheets
- Lightly flour a board or counter. Unfold one of the pastry pieces onto the floured board. Cut in half lengthwise down the middle then cut each half in thirds (the fold lines help in that). Place the six pieces onto one of the greased pans and sprinkle liberally with the sugar. Do the same with the other piece of pastry. If you can, place both sheets on the same shelf in the preheated oven. If not, halfway through cooking, rotate the pans so one isn’t closer to the heating element for the whole time. Cook until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- Lime Scented Berries-
- 1 16 ounce container fresh strawberries
- 1 six ounce container fresh raspberries
- 1 six ounce container fresh blueberries
- 1/3 cup sugar
- juice and zest from one small lime
- Cap and slice your strawberries. Mix them and your other berries in a large, preferably glass, bowl. Add the sugar, lime juice and zest and let sit for at least one hour to give the flavors time to blend.
Putting it all together-
- Get out some pretty dessert plates. You heard me. This deserves better than your old chipped corelle plates. Believe me, I know. The one I plated on the pretty plate tasted better than the one I put on..well… the old chipped corelle plate. It was”The Pretty Factor” at work 😛 I am giving the direction for normal people here not the directions for the dessert in the bottom photo which was made for a 14 year old boy who actually asked if I could just dump the whole bowl of fruit and some pastry cream in my 2 quart plastic bowl for his share. God help me.
- Take a pastry square and carefully slice it in half. Put the bottom half on your (pretty) plate. Top with some pastry cream and berries, Lay the other half of the square on top and top with more pastry cream and berries. See how easy this all was? Seriously though, the hardest part of all this is making the pastry cream because it takes watching. Otherwise, this tastes impressive, looks delicious but isn’t difficult at all.
Remember, your first grade puff pastry is my bachelor’s degree level…
Well, yes, but you also consider frozen burritos haute cuisine
You forgot the Knorr Sides with canned chicken and peas.
lol. This is true
Perfectly summery and delicious! Puff pastry also terrifies me. I’d forgo it entirely and turn this into a parfait with angelfood cake if I was doing it 😉
Lol. Bee, I actually thought about a parfait, sans the cake. At some point in the near future, I can see a post with some sort of fruit and pudding parfait going up on here. Like you said, so Summery. 🙂
Ha, ha…I better get that diet coke ready 🙂 This looks fabulous…and I still haven’t mastered pie crust…even after 12 billion attempts!!!
I’d be perfectly happy licking the pastry cream off a spoon all by itself if it were up to me…
Are you using pastry weights to blind bake the tart shell? I find that covering the pricked base with a sheet of baking paper and filling with uncooked rice or dried beans works a treat. Love the balloon image though!
Ah yes, puff pastry…though art a heartless cad! I can’t tell you the number of times I felt like I was getting hypothermia as a chef, standing in the flipping walk-in-fridge to prevent the kilograms of butter from melting in the Summer heat of the kitchen, rolling pin in hand, making batches of puff pastry from scratch.
Bring on a packet of store-bought any day – even if it looks like quasimodo as it deforms in the oven 🙂
The lime juxtaposed with the vanilla and white chocolate is sublime!
As long as it still tastes good, I think it is fine. I’m not a restaurant chef so I don’t expect my work to be of the level.
Baby steps….you will work the puff pastry into submission in no time. 😉
Fabulous napoleon. Looks delicious.
I’m not even at the first grade level, daycare maybe. On the other hand, I can’t wait to make the white chocolate pastry cream.