Monday, April 2, 2012

A fun and quick recipe for Napoleon pastries

While our wonderful Kate Collins finishes the last part of writing her manuscript--rewrites, copy edits and even more edits--we are fortunate to have Julie Hyzy, who writes two cozy series, join us for a few weeks. Many of you are probably familiar with her White House Chef series as well as her Manor House Mysteries. We welcome Julie while we await Kate's return. (We do miss our Kate!) 

I don't know about you, but I love having a quick and easy go-to recipe for dessert that's good enough for company. I'm hosting dinner here this Sunday and haven't quite decided on the menu. Well, aside from ham and a lamb cake, that is, but I'm sorely tempted to make these. They're pretty, they're delicious, and best of all, they're easy. Keep a few of these ingredients in your fridge/freezer and you can whip these up almost any time. 

Napoleons (adapted from one of the recipes offered in Affairs of Steak

1 (16-20 oz) package puff pastry
4 Tbsp sugar, divided (I used less than half this amount)
2 cups fruit - sliced peaches, berries, sliced pears, and mandarin orange segments are all fine. Pick what is seasonal and beautiful  (I used frozen strawberries. I recommend them!)
1 Tbsp Amaretto liquor (optional - I skipped this)
1 cup cream, whipped and sweetened with 2 Tbsp confectioners' sugar (I used canned whipped cream)
1/2 cup chocolate sauce (made my own with chocolate chips melted with a little heavy cream)
Powdered sugar for garnish

Unfold puff pastry and scatter 2 Tbsp sugar across the dough. Using the fold marks to guide your knife, cut each piece ofthe dough into three pieces. Cut each of the six rectangles in to six equal-sized rectangles.

Place the pastry, sugared side up, on baking sheets (I used parchment) and bake until brown and flaky, about 15 minutes.

While pastry is baking, slice fruit into a bowl. Toss with remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar and the liquor, if using.  (Unless you use the frozen strawberries, then skip this step and just ensure they're defrosted)

When the pastry is done, remove from oven and let cool.

For each Napoleon, place a bottom layer of cooked puff pastry on a dish. Top with whipped cream and a spoonful of fruit. Repeat this for a second layer. Top with a third layer of puff pastry. Drizzle with the chocolate sauce, sift powdered sugar onto the finished dessert. Serve chilled.

- As I mentioned above, I used prepared whipped cream - you know, the kind that comes in cans. It worked wonderfully. This makes the whole process so easy.
- Also, I *strongly* suggest you make this only 2 layers high, not three. These things are tough enough to keep from toppling - another layer and it would be impossible.
- The second time I made these, I sliced the baked pieces in half, like a bun. I sprayed the whipped cream on the bottom, layered the thawed strawberries, added more whipped cream, and then topped it with the second half of puff pastry. They stayed together (and pretty) much longer.
- We tested this recipe the way it was originally written - with fresh fruit. All *my* taste-testers preferred the frozen strawberries to the fresh. Why? Because the gooey strawberry juice that oozed all over added a lot of flavor.

Seriously - I'm now keeping whipped cream, frozen puff pastry, and frozen strawberries in my house all the time. This one looks great, tastes even better, and is sure to impress!

Have fun!
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