You can make a dessert out of almost any and everything, and despite the abundance of easy dessert recipes, yet every once in a while I crave the fancy, rich, and fulfilling French Napoleon dessert. Don’t be discouraged by the amount of steps needed to make such a dish. It deserves every effort spent on making it!
What is Napoleon dessert composed of?
Napoleon dessert is basically made of almond paste or cream filling spread between homemade or store-brought puff pastry layers, coupled with the signature chevron pattern of the chocolate and vanilla glaze on the top layer. Resulting in this rich and fancy, incomparable dessert.
Is Napoleon dessert really French, or is it Italian?
It was originally made by a Danish chef in Italy and was called Mille Foglie. However, it became more known later on when French chefs made the French version of it and called it Mille-feuille or Napoleon dessert.
Napoleon Dessert (French Napoleon Pastry Recipe)
For the pastry cream:
- 2 cups of milk
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup of sugar
- ¼ cup of corn starch
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter (need to be cold)
For the Glaze:
- 3 cups of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- ¼ cup of milk
- ¼ cup of cocoa powder
- 1 package of frozen or homemade pastry
The making of the pastry cream:
- In a saucepan put on medium-high heat, add the vanilla and milk, mix well.
- After it boils, remove it from the heat.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the cornstarch and the sugar.
- Add in the egg yolks and whisk until the mix is fluffy.
- Pour in the hot milk mixture from the saucepan gradually on the egg yolks and cornstarch.
- After mixing the mixture together, transfer it back to the saucepan and put it on medium-high heat. Whisk until it thickens.
- Remove from the heat, then add the butter and stir till it melts in the mix.
- Leave it to cool after covering it with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
Make the pastry layers:
- In the case of using frozen puff pastry, leave it to thaw overnight, then unfold one sheet and roll it out to about 1/16 inch.
- Using a kitchen knife, cut 2x4 inch rectangles. Align them on a baking sheet lined with parchment papers.
- Cover the top of the baking sheet with another parchment paper. Place another baking sheet on top of the parchment paper.
- Bake the puff pastry in a 400F preheated oven for 10-12 minutes till it’s golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the puff pastry.
Making the Glaze:
- Whisk well the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and 3 tablespoons of milk in a bowl till it has a smooth consistency. Transfer the mix to a piping bag.
- Add the cocoa powder with a one tablespoon of milk to 1/3 cup of the glaze in a separate bowl. Whisk it and transfer it to another piping bag.
Assembling of the Napoleon dessert:
- Leave 9 pieces of baked puff pastry aside. Spread the chilled pastry cream on the rest of the baked pastries using a piping bag, one by one. After spreading the cream on one layer, cover it with another layer, spread the other layer, and then cover it with another.
- On the 9 pieces left, spread the vanilla glaze on top, then pipe stripes of the chocolate glaze, and with a toothpick, make the classical chevron pattern by drawing the toothpick along the glaze. These 9 pieces will be the top layer of each Napoleon dessert.
- Leftovers can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for 6 months.
- It’s preferable to chill the pastry cream before spreading it for at least 2 hours.
- If the cream pastry is too thick, you can add some whipped cream. It will enhance its softness and fluffiness.