A traditional Napoleon is a French dessert made from layers of puff pastry spread with a vanilla pastry cream. The top of the rectangle or triangular shaped sweet is drizzled with chocolate and or dusted with powdered sugar. Historians say that the Napoleon was created by a Danish royal chef in honor of a visit by a French emperor. And that Emperor Bonaparte's defeat at Waterloo was the result of an overindulgence of his now famous namesake pastry.
You may have a hard time distinguishing after eating a Napoleon what part is the best part. Is it the puff pastry or the pastry cream? I think all of the flavor combinations work very well together, so, I say all of it! This is a very quick and easy dessert recipe, and you will not spend all day in the kitchen. We are going to take the shortcut method and make it work for our recipe.
Making puff pastry from scratch is not an easy task to undertake. It is a labor and time intensive endeavor. Perfectly chilled ingredients, repeated rolling to the correct thickness, and precision folding are the keys to faultless puff pastry. Not to mention working in a kitchen that is not humid. The meticulous rolling and folding, along with the moisture in the butter, creates steam which causes the dough to puff and separate into the flaky layers that the pastry is known for. Some chef's recommend anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours chilling time between rolling and folding. Consider that the roll, fold and chill process is done four times, you need to block off two to eight hours to make puff pastry. Or, take a trip to the frozen food section of the grocery store and buy it.
Ready made puff pastry is available in sheets or shells. To thaw it at room temperature takes about thirty minutes, in the refrigerator about four hours. It will keep in the refrigerator up to two days. When shaping the dough, work with one sheet at a time, refrigerating remaining sheets until ready to use. As with all dough handle as little as possible. A pastry wheel, pizza cutter or sharp knife are the best utensils for cutting the dough. Cut edges should be crisp to keep the layers separate so that they puff during baking. Always bake puff pastry in a conventional oven and keep in mind that darker baking sheets cook faster.
Vanilla pastry cream is the standard filling for a Napoleon. This is a very short recipe for making quick Napoleons.
1 Package of frozen puff pastry dough
2 Packages of Vanilla instant pudding
1 Bottle of a good chocolate fudge or chocolate drizzle
3 Ounces of confectioners sugar
Prepare instant pudding according to package directions. While pudding is chilling follow directions for thawing, unfolding and baking puff pastry sheets. Cut into desired shape at bake at 400° for twelve minutes or until golden. Pay close attention to baking time, sheets burn easily. Let cool to room temperature.
To assemble you will place a layer of pastry in bottom of a sheet pan. You will then gently spread with a layer of pudding, then another layer of pastry. Repeat the layering process until ingredients are used up. You will then heat your chocolate fudge until it is at a pouring consistency. You will pour or drizzle over the tops of your Napoleons, and dust very lightly with the confectioners sugar. You will need a serrated knife to cut these into bars to sreve. Keep refrigerated until serving time.
If you want to substitute a low fat, or zero fat pudding in this recipe, there is still enough sugar to give it flavor with half or no fat in the pudding.Quick Napoleon Dessert Recipes
Chef Shelley Pogue, a Cum Laude, Le Cordon Blue graduate and Executive Research and Development Chef, for Vertical Sales and Marketing, San Ramon, CA. Shelley is also the desserts editor for http://www.BellaOnline.com