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Napoleons, Part 1



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Gigi’s Napoleons

Puff Pastry:
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup ice water

Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière):
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Dash salt
2 tablespoons flour
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup light cream [half-and-half]
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dash salt
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons boiling water

Chocolate Decoration:
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
2 teaspoons butter

For the puff pastry:  Remove butter from the refrigerator. It should be not quite hard, but not soft. Sift flour and salt together. Stir in ice water with a fork. Then knead dough with your hands until satiny smooth. Set ball of dough on lightly floured board. Cover with an inverted bowl and let stand
at least 15 minutes. On lightly floured board roll dough into a neat 16-by-6-inch rectangle. Pull out corners to make a well-defined shape. Dough is tough at this point - don't be afraid of it. Straighten sides with palms of hands. Cut both sticks of butter into 3 equal lengthwise slices. Lay slices on half the rectangle with a 1/2-inch margin all around. From now on work fast - make every move count. Fold pastry half over strips of butter covering butter completely and press edges together to seal in the butter. Bang dough several times with a rolling pin to flatten and distribute butter. Roll dough 3 times as long as it is wide. Use ruler for exact measuring. Fold the large rectangle into
3 equal parts (giving you 3 layers of pastry) making a small neat rectangle.  Edges and corners must always meet precisely. Work quickly so butter won't melt. Wrap dough in damp cloth, chill in refrigerator 30 minutes. Proper chilling of puff pastry is extremely important. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll again into a 16-by-6-inch rectangle and fold in thirds just as you did before. Wrap in damp cloth and refrigerate another 30 minutes. This rolling, folding and chilling is called a "turn". Always roll from short end to short end, rolling 3 times as long as wide and measuring with a ruler. Puff pastry requires 5 turns, with 30 minutes intervals of chilling. Keep refrigerated until ready to shape and bake into varieties of pastry. This recipe makes 1 pound of puff pastry. Dough can be frozen most successfully.
For the pastry cream:  Beat the egg yolks, sugar, salt, flour, and cornstarch together in the top of a double boiler. Place over hot (not boiling) water and gradually stir in the light cream. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and cool. [Place a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.] When the cream is completely cold, beat the heavy cream until it holds a shape and fold it gently into the pastry cream.
Remove the chilled puff paste from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Sprinkle your bread board [or other work surface] lightly with flour and roll the pastry 1/4 inch thick. Cut with a sharp knife into two 2 1/2- by 15-inch strips. As you cut slant the knife so that the top of the pastry strip is slightly larger than the bottom.
Rinse a chilled baking sheet in cold water and lay strips on it. Prick the strips with fork tines. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven 15 minutes, then turn strips carefully with a spatula. Reduce the oven heat to
350 degrees F. and continue baking 15 minutes longer. Cool.
When the strips are cold, split each strip in half lengthwise to make four
long pieces of baked pastry.
Pick out the handsomest strip to glaze and decorate for the top of the napoleon.
For the glaze: Mix the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt and boiling water until smooth. Spread the glaze evenly over the pastry strip with a pastry
brush. Let the glaze dry at room temperature; then brush another coat of
glaze on top. Let this second coat dry about an hour before decorating
with chocolate.
For the chocolate decoration:  Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of
a double boiler over hot water, stirring until smooth and creamy.
Put the chocolate into a decorating tube and pipe about five thin lines of chocolate down the length of the glazed pastry strip, keeping them as straight and even as you can. Draw a toothpick, held at as slanted an angle as you
can, through the chocolate lines at 1/2 inch intervals reversing directions
each time. Let this dry while you assemble the napoleons.
Spread the prepared pastry cream smoothly and evenly on top of the
unglazed pastry strips and stack them. Finish off with the decorated top.
Then chill at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.  Serves 8.

More Napoleons!:
Page 2: White Chocolate
Mocha Napoleons

Page 3: White Chocolate Black
Pepper Mousse Napoleon

Featured Archive Recipes:
Pâte à Choux - A Touch of Magic!
Gigi's Profiteroles au Chocolat (Cream Puffs)
Chocolate Cream Puffs with Spun Sugar
(Alice Medrich)

Chocolate Grand Marnier Éclairs
Stilton, Port and Pear Napoleons

More Lagniappe Recipes!
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