Holidays roll around or you have a special event and you aren’t sure what to make for dessert? This delicious mille-feuille will have your guest leaving speechless. Aesthetically pleasing and even more delicious, this dessert consists of using fresh fruit, a lemon pastry cream, puff pastry sheets, and it is all garnished with a simple chantilly cream and fruit.
A mille-feuille also is known as a Napoleon is a French pastry that translates to a ‘million layers’. This effect is done by the visual appearance of the baked puff pastry. There are components of this dish that can be done the night before such as the pastry cream a day before, the whipped cream the morning of if stabilized, and the puff pastry the morning of and stored in an airtight container. The morning of the event has arrived, and it is time to complete all the components of this jaw-dropping dessert.
First, we need to cook the puff pastry. Using two baking sheets, and two pieces of parchment paper cut to fit the trays, place the parchment paper and the puff pastry on the tray. Make sure the pasty is docked, meaning it has small holes on the bottom to allow air to pass through the pastry and it crisps up. This can easily be done using a fork and poking the bottom of the pastry. Place the second sheet of parchment over the pastry and cover with the second tray. Bake at 400ºF for 30 minutes or until light golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven, removing the top tray and parchment. Sprinkle with a light layer of sugar, and place back into the oven for another 15 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and creates a caramel candy coating. remove from oven, let cool slightly before cutting it into rectangle pieces (it should be 3 pieces per dessert).
With the pastry done, clean and cut the strawberries into quarters, place in a glass bowl, sprinkle with sugar and let sit macerating the fruit. Stirring the fruit occasionally throughout your dessert preparation, this allows the strawberries to release some of their natural juices creating a sauce.
The last thing to prepare is the Chantilly cream. In a chilled metal bowl, place the full fat cream (35%), icing sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. Whip until stiff peaks form. Make sure not to over whip or you will start to create butter.
To assemble you begin by placing a dollop of pastry cream on the plate and place a piece of puff pastry on top. This helps the dessert from moving around while serving. Then with the pastry cream in a piping bag fitted with a star tip, and pipe a layer across the pastry. Top with the strawberries and continue for a second layer. Finish with a pastry sheet and top with the Chantilly cream in a piping bag also fitted with a star tip. I like to decorate using fresh strawberry, blueberry and raspberry pieces.
2 1/4 cups whole milk (3.25%)
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 vanilla bean split in half and scrapped or 1tbsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch.
Transfer remaining 1 3/4 cups milk to heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add pod. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup sugar over, letting sugar sink undisturbed to bottom. Set pan over moderate heat and bring to simmer without stirring.
Whisk hot milk mixture, then gradually whisk into egg yolk mixture. Return to saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until pastry cream simmers and thickens about 1 minute. Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod (if there is one), and whisk cream until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Pastry cream can be made ahead and refrigerated, wrapped well with plastic wrap on surface, up to 3 days.) Be careful when whisking the pastry cream on the stove, to not let the egg curdle and scramble.
** For a lighter version do only one layer of the pastry topped with the pastry cream, chantilly cream, and fruit. This makes a perfect end to al fresco dinner during the summer season.