Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!
I almost didn’t make this challenge. But Suz
is a friend of mine, and she always makes amazing things for Sourdough Surprises
, and I didn’t want to bug out on her. I won’t lie, though, I did cheat a tiny bit. See, I’ve already made puff pastry before, back in 2009
, and I have made a sourdough laminated pastry
, too, so I knew I could do it. I just didn’t have the time this month. I wanted to, it just wasn’t going to happen. So I used store-bought. Please don’t hate me. To make up for me being totally awful, I did decide to jazz up my napoleon with fresh cranberry relish and an orange-vanilla bean cream patisserie. I topped it off with a simple dusting of powdered sugar and a few drizzles of a simple icing (with powdered sugar and orange juice). It was pretty amazing. I ate a lot of it. 🙂
Cranberry Napoleon with Orange-Vanilla Bean Cream Patisserie
(yields enough for 3 large pieces or 6 smaller ones)
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 TBSP orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
12 ounces of cranberries, fresh
1 cup sugar
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients and heat over medium-high heat.
Stir almost constantly as it cooks, until the cranberries begin to pop and the mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.
Take a small taste to see if you need more sugar, then cool to room temperature.
Orange Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream:
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 TBSP orange zest
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 TBSP flour
2 TBSP + 2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 vanilla bean
Scrape out the vanilla from the inside of the bean.
In a small saucepan, bring the milk, vanilla beans and orange zest to just barely boil.
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch until the mixture is thick and smooth,.
When the milk is just barely boiling, add about 1/4 of it to the egg mixture and whisk constantly to combine ( this also heats the egg mixture up without cooking it).
Slowly, slowly, slowly pour in the remaining milk, whisking constantly until thoroughly combined.
Heat the combined mixture of 1-2 minutes, until the custard reaches 170F on a digital thermometer and is very thick (and covers the back of a spoon).
Remove from the heat, stir in the almond extract, the vanilla beans.
Pour into a heat proof bowl.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill at least 2 hours.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp orange juice
In a small bowl, combine until smooth.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.
Cut the sheet into 3 strips (along the fold marks).
Place the strips onto a baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove the strips from the baking sheet and let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.
Split the pastry into 2 layers, baking 6 sheets in all.
Evenly spread the cranberry jam onto three of the pastry layers.
Place another pastry layer on top of the cranberries.
Pipe (or spread) the pastry cream on top of the top layer of pastry.
Top each stack with the remaining plain pastry layers.
Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of each stack and drizzle with the icing.