Thursday, March 11, 2010
Top 10 "Most Difficult" Recipes: #5 Napoleons
Total Batches: One
Time: Three days (including the time to make the puff pastry from scratch)
Butter: Over a pound
Difficulty: The hard part is not eating 8 napoleons in one sitting. Otherwise they only require patience to make.
I'm going to post the puff pastry recipe tomorrow with the next dish. For the Napoleons, you will need roughly 1.5lbs of puff pastry. If you're using store bought, buy 2 boxes of puff pastry (20oz) and be prepared to eat some leftover diplomat cream.
Roll the puff pastry to a depth of 3mm and divide into three equal rectangular pieces (roughly 6.5 x 16"). If you're using the store bought dough, unfold/roll three sheets of pastry, no need to cut. Dock (poke holes) the pastry heavily, using a fork or a pastry docker. Then place each piece of puff pastry onto a pan lined with a sheet of parchment and set another piece of parchment on top. Weight the pastry with a second pan.
If you're going to be baking the sheets in installments, keep the uncooked puff pastry in the fridge. Bake the weighted sheets for 20-30 minutes at 375°F until the pastry is golden brown and dry throughout. Feel free to remove the second pan from the top of the pastry in the last 10 minutes of baking to facilitate browning.
Cool the puff pastry to room temperature on a wire rack.
Trim any uneven edges with a sharp serrated knife.
Lay a couple generous sheets of plastic wrap across a baking sheet and set one of the pieces of pastry into the center. Now you're ready for the cream...
adapted from Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft
yields 2lbs of pastry cream
320 mL whole milk
75 grams granulated sugar
28 grams unsalted butter
28 grams cornstarch
113 grams of eggs (roughly 2 large eggs)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds only (or 5 mL pure vanilla extract)
480 mL heavy cream
7 grams granulated gelatin
60 mL water
Combine 240mL of the milk and 33 grams of the sugar into a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add the butter and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk the cornstarch with the remaining milk and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla bean seeds and mix until completely smooth.
When the milk comes to a boil remove from heat immediately and pour a third of the hot milk into the bowl with the eggs and cornstarch while mixing with the whisk. Return this mixture to pan with the remaining hot milk and set over medium heat stirring constantly with the whisk.
Cook the mixture until it comes to a boil, has thickened and the whisk leaves a trail in the mixture.
Pour the mixture into a stainless steel bowl set into an ice bath and allow to cool, stirring occasionally.
Sprinkle the gelatin over a small bowl containing 60ml of cool water and allow to bloom for 5 minutes.
Mix the gelatin into the pastry cream (it should still be warm, that's okay. It should be warm for this step). Strain through a fine mesh sieve into another non-reactive metal bowl and return it to the ice bath.
Once the cream hits roughly 75°F (room temperature) beat the heavy cream to soft peaks and then gently mix one third of the whipped cream into the pastry cream. Fold the remaining cream in until no streaks remain.
(Use immediately, the cream cannot be made in advance)
Slather a thick, even layer of the cream onto the sheet of pastry on your prepared pan. Top with a second piece of pastry and add another layer of the cream. Top with the third piece of pastry and then wrap the sheets of plastic over and around the pastry. Chill in the freezer overnight.
The next morning you can unwrap and finish the pastry while frozen.
You will need the following to finish the pastry:
8oz of rolling fondant
3oz simple syrup
3oz apricot jam (strained)
2oz bittersweet chocolate.
(Note: Don't feel bound by the 'classic' napoleon ingredients list here. You can mix it up a little, you have my permission. I like to top my napoleons with a dark chocolate ganache, marbled with a thin line of white chocolate and then a sprinkling of chopped pistachios.)
Thin the apricot jam with 1 oz of the simple syrup and brush it onto the top layer of puff pastry.
Divide the rolling fondant into small pieces and add to a sauce pan with the remaining 2 oz of simple syrup. Melt the fondant over medium low heat stirring until fluid and only slightly viscous.
Pour a little of the fondant glaze onto the center of the napoleon and spread to create a smooth even surface.
Melt the bittersweet chocolate and pour into a parchment pastry cone with a small opening snipped off the tip and pipe thin parallel lines of chocolate along the length of the napoleon.
Working quickly before the chocolate has a chance to set, drag a paring knife horizontally across the surface of the napoleon, alternating directions about 1/4" apart.
Allow the fondant to set before cutting.
To cut warm a long serrated knife in a pan of simmering water, dry with a towel and slice the napoleon into bars.
Allow the napoleon to defrost completely before serving. Keep refrigerated.