Well well well, as you can see this week I really went for it, and baked a twist on one of my favorite bakery pastries. You know those GOOD Italian bakeries where all the pastries are lined up in rows upon rows of joy and they somehow get everything from eclairs to sfogliatelle just perfect? If I could live in one of those I would, and whenever I go, I’m faced with a choice between two things: the eclairs and the napoleons. Similar components, and yet so, so different, I have an almost impossible time deciding if it’s going to be an eclair day or a napoleon day.
BUT! Today, for all of you, is a glorious napoleon day. And not just any napoleon day, PASSION FRUIT napoleon day. It’s been so cold and sad this week and what better way to cheer up than with the fresh, sunny, summery flavor of passion fruit curd? If you close your eyes, you can almost feel the beachy breeze, can’t you? Well, maybe not quite. But anyway, as if that wasn’t enough, this passion fruit curd is mixed with a generous helping of pastry cream, sandwiched between buttery, crisp layers of puff pastry, then topped with a silky, chocolate ganache glaze. I know, I’m crying just typing this. Petition to change all wedding cakes to passion fruit napoleon stacks, who’s with me??
2 quick notes about this, I know that some people make their own puff pastry dough but I, however, did not. I am lazy and like to sleep late on Saturdays, which does not match with dough prep, so I am using the good old frozen, pre-made kind and I promise it’s good. If you feel like making your own, I admire you and your determination, best of luck. Also, I’m sure in a pinch you could buy pre-made passion fruit curd, but this recipe is pretty quick and easy, so 10/10 would recommend making your own.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. Soft pile rugs.
TWO. Piping hot biscuits.
THREE. A kettle on a wood burning stove.
FOUR. Someone who makes you happy by loving you, being alive with you, filling up your life.
FIVE. A hazy metropolitan skyline growing out of the horizon.
MAKES: 16 individual napoleons
PREP TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes
BAKE TIME: ~20 minutes per tray
PASTRY CREAM INGREDIENTS
adapted from ZoeBakes
4 cups whole milk
1 cup white sugar, divided
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla bean paste/ extract, or 1 vanilla bean (pod and scrapped beans)
6 Tbsp cornstarch
6 egg yolks
PASTRY CREAM STEPS
ONE. Bring the milk, ½ cup sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt to a gentle boil in a saucepan on medium. Remove from heat.
TWO. In a medium heat-safe bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup sugar and the cornstarch to remove any lumps. Add the eggs and egg yolks, and mix until smooth.
THREE. Whisking constantly, carefully drizzle some of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture- this will bring the eggs and milk closer in temperature without cooking the eggs. Once the eggs are warm to the touch, transfer the entire egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken quickly, but continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to stabilize it, this will set the custard and keep it from separating later.
FOUR. Strain the custard through a sieve to catch any stray cooked egg, then transfer to a glass bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap to the custard’s surface to prevent a skin forming. Chill the custard for 15 minutes in the freezer, then place in the fridge to cool completely before using.
PASSION FRUIT CURD INGREDIENTS
8 egg yolks
½ cup passion fruit juice
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1¼ sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
PASSION FRUIT CURD STEPS
ONE. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, passion fruit juice, and sugar until smooth. Cook on medium-high, stirring constantly and scraping the sides of the pot, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 8 to 10 minutes.
TWO. Remove the pan from the heat and add the salt and the cold butter, one piece at a time, stirring until all is incorporated. Strain through a sieve into a medium-sized bowl, and just like with the pastry cream, press a sheet of plastic wrap to the surface to prevent a skin forming while cooling. Chill in the refrigerator until completely cooled and set, at least 1 hour.
THREE. When both the curd and the pastry cream are cold, mix the fruit curd into the pastry cream until fully incorporated, then return to the fridge until you’re ready for assembly.
NAPOLEON PASTRY INGREDIENTS
2 packages frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
NAPOLEON PASTRY STEPS
ONE. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Prepare your baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 6 equal pieces (3 vertical cuts, then horizontal halfway through) and lay out on the prepared baking sheets evenly.
TWO. Prick holes in each piece of pastry using a fork, then put a second sheet of parchment paper on top. Place another baking sheet of the same size (or a cooling rack) on top of the pastry to weigh it down. This will keep everything from puffing up too much and resulting in uneven heights. Bake until the strips are lightly golden, about 14 minutes. You’ll have to bake the pastry in batches to ensure even browning, one tray at a time.
THREE. At this point, remove the top tray and parchment paper, and bake for an additional 4-6 minutes until fully golden. Allow the pastry to cool completely. Once the pastry is cool, you may want to slice each square in half, the second baking tray weighs the pastry down but it still puffs up slightly and may be too thick to stack whole.
NAPOLEON ASSEMBLY INGREDIENTS
2/3 cup heavy cream
5 oz. dark semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tsp corn syrup
Fresh raspberries, for garnish
NAPOLEON ASSEMBLY STEPS
ONE. Bring the heavy cream to just barely a boil, then remove from heat. Place the chopped dark chocolate into a bowl and pour the hot heavy cream over it and allow the chocolate to melt. Whisk in the corn syrup and set aside to cool.
TWO. To make each individual napoleon, we’ll be using 3 pieces of puff pastry, with 2 layers of pastry cream. If your puff pastry sizes aren’t all the same, feel free to trim them with a serrated knife to make them even and easier to stack. Start with a piece of puff pastry and carefully spread a layer of passion fruit pastry cream on top, leaving a half inch border on all sides.
THREE. Top with a second puff pastry and repeat with more pastry cream, again leaving a half inch border on all edges. For the final piece, spread a thin layer of the chocolate glaze on top and carefully place on top of the pastry cream layer. Top with raspberries.
FOUR. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the remaining pastries, then chill in the fridge for at least an hour to set. Now go open the bakery you were always meant to!