Vanilla and Strawberry Mille-Feuille

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M

ille-feuille [mil fœj], meaning “a thousand leaves” in French, millefoglie [mil-le-fò-glie] in Italian, vanilla slice or custard slice in English is also known as – Napoleon!? Apparently it has absolutely nothing to do with the great conqueror; the name seems to originate from the word Napoletan, meaning “from Naples”. Although there is a story saying that mille-feuille was Napoleon’s favorite dessert, he was – as far as I know – a baguette fan!

Mille-feuille consists of three layers of golden baked puff pastry and two layers of cream in between. Traditionally vanilla flavored crème pâtissière is used as a filling, however nowadays we see various delicious combinations of creams, spreads, fruits and nuts in a variety of recipes for this scrumptious delight. What is so tempting about this thousand layers yumminess? The crispness and the flakiness of the perfectly baked puff pastry that makes a delightful contrast to the silky cream, I say! So, if you want your puff pastry to be crispy when you dig into your mille-feuille, there is only one way – it has to be freshly assembled. This is the reason I make my own mille-feuille, rather than ordering one from the pastry shop – although, I have to mention one particular Parisian pâtisserie where you get the freshest mille-feuille ever – it is “Jacques Genin” in the 3rd arrondissement. This house of sweets is also well known for its exquisite hazelnut Paris-Brest and lovely caramels and chocolates, so when you decide to visit the city of love, romance, and patisserie, don’t forget to pay a visit to this gem!

Ah, Paris…anyway – let’s make our own mille-feuille! First thing you need to do is prepare puff pastry. If you are in a hurry, buy one, but – being a real puff pastry snob that I am, I always have some homemade puff in my freezer! The reason is simple – nobody makes puff pastry like I do! Just kidding, the truth is that in Croatia you can only buy puff pastry that contains margarine. Since I am passionate about good quality butter in everything, I need to be in control over my puff pastry!

So, roll your pastry until you achieve the ideal thickness of about 3mm (18“). Put the pastry on a paper-lined tray, dock it with a fork, cover with another piece of wax paper and put another tray on top to press it while baking. Bake at 200°C (400°F) for 10-15 minutes, uncover and continue to bake until golden brown. While the pastry is baking, make the cream, and leave it to cool. When your pastry cools, cut it into uniform rectangles and create some spectacular Mille-Feuille! Piece of cake, right?

Vanilla and Strawberry Mille-Feuille, Pastry Maestra

Vanilla and Strawberry Mille-Feuille Recipe

by:Tereza Alabanda,The Pastry Maestra

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Prep. time : 30 minutes

Cook time : 30 minutes

Ready in 60 minutes

Level : Advanced

Ingredients:

  • Puff pastry 500g (1.1lbs)
  • Milk 300g (10.6oz)
  • Egg yolks 60g (2.1oz or 3 medium egg yolks)
  • Sugar 60g (2.1oz)
  • Corn starch 20g (0.7oz)
  • All purpose flour 15g (12oz)
  • Vanilla powder
  • Whipping cream 150g (5.3oz)

Directions

  1. Roll out the puff pastry until you achieve the ideal thickness of about 3mm (1/8″). Put the pastry on a baking tray, dock it with a fork, and cover with a rack. Bake the pastry at 200°C (400°F) for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Take out and leave it to cool down.
  2. Cook crème pâtissière: Heat up the milk with the half of the sugar and vanilla powder, and whisk the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until pale and thick. Add sifted corn starch and flour to egg yolk mixture and whisk to combine. Temper the egg yolk mixture with hot milk. Stir well and return everything to the pan. Cook the cream on medium heat while whisking vigorously until it thickens, and after it starts boiling, continue to cook for two more minutes. Remove it from the stove and transfer to a clean bowl. Leave it to cool down.
  3. Cut your puff pastry into same sized rectangles, approximately 5cm (2″) wide and 10cm (4″) long.
  4. Whisk the cooled crème pâtissière, and whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold in the cream into crème pâtissière. You have just made crème diplomate.
  5. Cut the strawberries in half.
  6. Assemble your mille-feuilles. For each piece, you will need three rectangles of puff pastry. Take two rectangles, pipe the diplomate cream on the top of each one, and put strawberries on top of the cream. Put one assembled piece on top of the other. Dust the third rectangle of puff pastry with some powdered sugar and put it on the top of your mille-feuille.

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