Sophie’s Fourth Of July Napoleons With Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream And Lemon Berries

A beautiful summery layered dessert filled with homemade vanilla bean pastry cream and lemon berries, perfect for Fourth Of July.  Enjoy.

1 Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheet, Thawed

1 Cup Milk

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar, Divided Use

1/4 Cup Cornstarch

4 Egg Yolks

1 Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Caviar Scraped

1/4 Stick Butter or Margarine, Softened

Strawberries, Washed, Hulled, And Finely Chopped

Raspberries, Washed And Finely Chopped

Blueberries, Washed And Halved

Lemon Zest

Confectioners’ Sugar

For the original napoleons:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Unfold the puff pastry sheet from the package, and place it on a well greased baking sheet. Dock it to prevent it from puffing up too much by pricking it all over with a fork, and cut into thirds widthwise along the fold lines.

3. Bake for about 20 minutes. It should be slightly golden and puffed up.

4. Remove from oven, and let cool. Do not worry if they puff up too much even after you dock them because they will deflate slightly as they cool. Hold your hand over the top of one of the baked puff pastry pieces, slice it in half horizontally (parallel to that hand), and flip the top one over so that it looks like an open sandwich. Repeat with the rest of the baked puff pastry pieces, and set aside.

For the vanilla bean pastry cream:

1. In a saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and caviar from vanilla bean and vanilla bean pod, and bring to a boil.

2. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks, remaining granulated sugar, and cornstarch until thick and pale yellow in color.

3. Pour some of the hot milk into the egg mixture to temper them, and add the milk-egg mixture to the rest of the hot milk mixture so that the eggs do not scramble, stirring the mixture until everything is incorporated.

4. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until thick, and it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees F, turn off the heat, and stir in butter. Let cool, and strain into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly over the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming, and chill in the refrigerator until cold.

5. Remove from refrigerator, unwrap, and set aside.

For the lemon berries:

1. In a small bowl, combine strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and lemon zest, and set aside.

For the finished napoleons:

1. Stack the napoleons. Spread some of the chilled pastry cream on a piece of puff pastry, and spoon some of the lemon berries over it. Put a second piece of puff pastry on top, making sure that both pieces are facing up, and layer a third piece of puff pastry on top facing down to close the “sandwich”. Repeat the process again, creating a separate stack, and sift Confectioners’ sugar over them. Cut each widthwise into four rectangles, and enjoy.

Yields: 8 Fourth Of July napoleons with vanilla bean pastry cream and lemon berries

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