The Daring Bakers make Cranberry Orange Napoleons

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
Cranberry Relish
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.

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  • Reply
    Amy (Savory Moments)
    October 27, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    A store-bought short cut is perfectly acceptable sometimes! Don't worry – these still look absolutely delicious!

  • Reply
    Cher Rockwell
    October 27, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    I think your version sounds wonderful and more than makes up for any shortcuts! (Which we all do – its called survival & keeping sane)

  • Reply
    October 27, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    Oh Jenni, that was so lovely of you! You've had such a busy month with all your travel, I really wouldn't have minded, though obviously I always love seeing your creations. Thank you. 🙂

    No worries on the puff! To be honest, I wondered about buying some in myself, but I thought that might not fly since I was hosting. 😉 Anyway, your mille feuilles are utterly gorgeous – they look floaty light & the filling sounds divine. Cranberry and orange – perfect for the coming winter!

    Thanks again! You and Shelley are both brilliant for taking the time when you have a lot on. I truly appreciate it. x

  • Reply
    October 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Love the flavors! These look really great. Nice job with the challenge, I'm glad you decided to do it.

  • Reply
    Created by Hannah Grunzke
    October 27, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Your awesome flavor combination makes up for your cheat 🙂 Looks great! I WISH I would have bought my puff pastry – Mine was a fail!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    The jazzed up pastry cream sounds awesome! I'm sure it was delicious, I would probably have finished them all in one sitting!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Beautiful, and nice flavor combination!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    As I read the title of your post I actually said out loud "Oooooh that sounds GOOD!" Storebought or homemade, sometimes just you gotta do what you gotta do! I think it's great that you still managed to complete the challenge – and it looks delicious!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    Hey there Jenni, I would eat a lot of it too! That was a good idea to put the two fillings in two different layers. The mille feuille looks beautiful!

  • Reply
    Ruth H.
    October 28, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    That sounds like an amazing combination. Can I come over next time you make it? 🙂

  • Reply
    shelley c.
    October 28, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    That flavor combination sounds so delicious – like, I'm thinking that should be dessert for Thanksgiving dinner!! I'm AMAZED you found the time to fit in the challenge this month with all of your adventures, but am SO glad you did, because I would not have thought of that delicious version. Love it!

  • Reply
    October 28, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    You have certainly made up for your store bought puff pastry. The filling looks and sounds fantastic!

  • Reply
    Anuja Sule
    October 28, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    Hi Jenni,
    Your Cranberry relish and orange pastry cream sounds supa delish!! Would love to try it out sometime.
    Thnax so much for stopping by my blog and for a beautiful comment.
    Have a wonderful Sunday!

  • Reply
    October 28, 2012 at 6:56 AM

    Hi jenni
    Life is too short to worry about using ready-made puff pastry. Just file Suz's recipe somewhere safe for a time when you have time because it's a keeper. I really like the sound of the cranberry relish – I'm going to make a big batch of that but have to use dried cranberries as we don't grow them in New Zealand. Thanks for visiting my blog:)

  • Reply
    October 28, 2012 at 7:07 AM

    Hi jenni
    Life is too short to worry about using ready-made puff pastry. Just file Suz's recipe somewhere safe for a time when you have time because it's a keeper. I really like the sound of the cranberry relish – I'm going to make a big batch of that but have to use dried cranberries as we don't grow them in New Zealand. Thanks for visiting my blog:)

  • Reply
    November 3, 2012 at 7:12 AM

    Gorgeous Napoleons, Jenni..and so festive with the cranberry orange flavors..which is an excellent choice to cut the richness! I knew you'd kick Mille Feuillle booty!

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