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Saffy

Napoleon / Mille Feuille

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I would like to make a simple vanilla creme Napoleon and all I can seem to find are recipes for all the fillings under the sun except this.

I don't want it custardy since then it would be a custard square not a Napoleon which has more a Bavarian cream. Am I right or completely off track :huh:

What was/is the traditional filling for a Napoleon.

Does the original even have a vanilla filling or was it something else?

Any and all suggestions/ recipes welcome.

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You could just make a creme Chantilly -- lightly sweetened whipped cream with a bit of vanilla added.

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The traditional filling for napoleons is vanilla pastry cream, which is custard based and thickened with starch. Some patisseries lighten the pastry cream with a bit of Italian meringue or whipped cream which would make it more like a chiboust. Bavarian cream is typically creme anglaise (a custard) lightened with whipped cream and set with gelatin - kind of like a mousse that's firm enough to slice.

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The traditional filling for the classic Napoleon is pastry cream lightened with whipped cream and flavored with a touch of Grand Marnier

2 cups milk

100g sugar

45g corn starch

1/2 vanilla bean (scraped)

4 egg yolks

75g butter

whipped cream (about 1 cup)

Grand Marnier

Boil milk with vanilla seeds

stir together the corn starch and sugar and whisk in yolks

temper yolk mix with boiling milk (by adding about 1/2 the milk gradually to the yolks whilke whisking the yolks)

Add yolk mix back to milk and stir over heat with whisk until it comes to a boil then reduce heat and continue boiling while stirring 2 -3 minutes

place in mixer with paddle and stir in butter until steam stops rising

cover and chill

the cream will become quite firm

Whip cream to soft peak

mash pastry cream through sieve to loosen and fold in whipped cream and Grand Marnier to desired consistency

Spread between cooled puff pastry sheets

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I don't want it custardy since then it would be a custard square not a Napoleon which has more a Bavarian cream. Am I right or completely off track :huh:

Whether there's vanilla or Grand Marnier in the most traditional millefeuille [which is what those who can pronounce millefeuille, (the French) call what we call a Napoleon in the US] I can't verify, but the classic version would not be Bavarian cream and would not have gelatin, I am sure.

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All these replies are really interesting. I bought some today from a local bakery ( not very good admittedly) to see if I could work out what was in the filling.

Whatever it was it was not very good! A bit lumpy and grainy. I would have expected it to be smooth and creamy.

I think it was a pastry cream with poorly mixed in cornflour. I am not entirely sure what the grainyness was from.

Chefette I notice in the recipe that you give you force the chilled pastry cream through a sieve then fold in the whipped cream. Would this result in a slightly grainy texture?

millefeuille here is slightly different, having many layers of pastry and pastry cream like a club sandwhich a Napoleon typically seems just to have the two layers of pastry with one layer of filling.

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you force the  chilled pastry cream through a sieve then fold in the whipped cream. Would this result in a slightly grainy texture?

I believe this should help to prevent a grainy texture.

Napoleons that i've seen have always had multiple layers.

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Edit: Note to self, read all of the preceeding posts before adding my own... I missed chefette's recipe and the incorporation of the butter...

The amount of starch and fat, and errors in the cooking process are all variables when it comes to a smooth vs. grainy texture. Some chefs may also enrich their pastry creams with butter... if added while the cream is too hot, the butter will melt, rather than 'emulsify', When chilled, this will often result in an unpleasant grainy texture as well. Same problem can happen with similar creams, like lemon curd. To illustrate, melt some butter, then chill it. Then taste it. Ick.

For a pastry cream, I'll immediately throw it into a mixer, with the paddle attachment. After a few minutes, depending on the size of the recipe, once the bowl is cool to the touch, I'll then add soft butter. This is also good idea in terms of food safety, as I am speeding up the cooling process- less time in the 'danger zone'.

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"millefeuille [which is what those who can pronounce millefeuille, (the French) call what we call a Napoleon in the US]" -- Bux

"millefeuille here is slightly different, having many layers of pastry and pastry cream like a club sandwhich a Napoleon typically seems just to have the two layers of pastry with one layer of filling." -- Saffy

"Napoleons that i've seen have always had multiple layers." -- mjc

Saffy, where is "here" for you? I'm in NYC. What I knew as a Napoleon was a millefeuille in France. It could be we're not all on the same page and that we're not describing what you are thinking about.

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Saffy, where is "here" for you? I'm in NYC.  What I knew as a Napoleon was a millefeuille in France. It could be we're not all on the same page and that we're not describing what you are thinking about.

Here is at the bottom of the planet in New Zealand. I think you are describing what I am after, it just seems to be a slightly different presentation.

Rather than the classic french presentation of a millefeuille it is most likely an english adaptation since that is the basis for many of the baked goods here being ye olde english colony. But NZers do seem to differentiate between the multi layers of millefeuille and a Napoleon which just has pastry top and bottom with the filling in the middle, like a large sandwhich.

I am more interested in getting it right, rather than recreating what is available here, which generally is not that great.

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Napoleon=Millefeuille (millefeuille means thousands of layers referring to the puff pastry) No, bavarian does not belong in a classic napoleon - pastry cream does. The classic is a layer of puff, a layer of cream, puff, cream, puff smear extra cream on the sides and coat with crunched up puff pieces then top with fondant. While still damp, pipe rows of chocolate across the fondant and "thread" them by dragging a toothpick in a perpendicular line through the lines of chocolate - down, then move about an inch to the side and go up, then down, etc. classic.

At Le Cirque the caramelize the puff which makes it hold up better to the moisture in the pastry cream . To caramelize the puff you roll out a sheet and place it on parchment. Brush with corn syrup mixed with water so that it is more easily brushable then place in the oven 5-10 minutes until it starts to rise. Remove from oven, place a sheet of parchment and another sheet pan to cover the sheet of puff and flip, brush the now revealed bottom side and return to the oven to complete baking.

You will want as nice even puff that is not too thick.

Remove from the oven and cool then cut into the three equal pieces using a serrated knife.

Many classic napoleons are 'tempered' meaning they sit and chill with the pastry cream an hour or so before serving. At Le Cirque to prevent soggy, unpleasant napoleons, we would pipe the pastry cream ala minute between the layers of puff

And no, pushing the pastry cream through the sieve before lightening it with whipped cream is just one of several ways to ensure you do not have a lumpy pastry cream filling. Another way to do this is to place the cream in the mixing bowl and mix using the paddle to smooth it out and soften it prior to folding in the cream. The gritty graininess is just the reult of bad pastry cream possibly they did not cook it long enough to cook out the starch testure, or perhaps they let the eggs sit rtoo long in contact with the sugar causing the sugar to 'cook' the yolks which caises unpleasant graininess, or the butter problem Michael mentioned.

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You can also make one layer with pastry cream and another with Chantilly, or to make it easier, you can spread the whipped cream over the pastry cream and just use two layers of pastry to sandwich. It isn't the classic, but for beginners, it is quite easy to make. Also, for beginners, you can add a few sheets of gelatin to the custard, pour it into a plastic-lined cookie sheet, chill, then later flip it directly onto the sheet of pastry. Then you just have to cut off the excess cream and you'll have an even layer. All these tricks make life easier.

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Wonderful tips thank you so much.

It is my youngest son's birthday on Saturday and we are just having family over for morning tea. I thought I would make Napoleons for the adults to have with their tea and the kids will get cupcakes and various other things with kid appeal.

I am a confident and competant baker but I must admit to avoiding some of the more fiddly things since I don't always have a lot of time. But I really want to make Napoleons, put it down to some irrational craving.

I am going to have a practice this evening to make sure I get it right first.

so keep your fingers crossed for me!

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Saffy, when will you be starting the puff pastry?

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Here is at the bottom of the planet in New Zealand. I think you are describing what I am after, it just seems to be a slightly different presentation.

I would expect it all to be the same, except for the icing on the bottom. :laugh:

I hope my comments have been helpful, but it should be obvious that "chefette" is a misnomer, she and Lesley are real pro chefs.

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When I was a pastry teacher, I used to love mille-feuille day. It was great to see all these macho guys crap their pants while making them. I saw grown men fall to pieces having to do the fondant, curvy line thing. I remember one fellow (a seedy drug addict, ex-con type) who got all misty-eyed when he got the fondant right. Making mille-feuille separates the men from the boys. :wink:

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Well I made Napoleons today enough to feed 16 hungry people and they were a huge hit, and they looked beautiful.

Thankyou to everyone that helped me do a good job on this!

Compliments abounded! :biggrin:

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I'm sick of my lemon Napoleon. While it's good, I'd like to mix it up a bit.

Anybody doing anything interesting? Any favorite fillings and flavours.

I can't use gelatin - and I'd like to keep things non-dairy if possible, though not necessary (I'm currently using whipped cream and lemon curd). Fresh berries aren't around. I already have many chocolate things in my showcase. Ideas?


Edited by Pam R (log)

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There was an article in the NY Times about Mille Crepes cake on May 15, 2005 which seems like an interesting cake. I think the bakery mentioned in the article is the Lady M shop but the article references other books that contain variations.

I also thought saw a Great Chef's episode where they did a chocolate napoleon, using chocolate puff pastry, and a chocolate cream or pastry cream filling (I forget).

Jeff

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article from Florence Fabricant:

Dynamite Napoleons: chefs dazzle diners with sweet, savory pastry dishes

Ludovic Lefebvre, the chef at Bastide in Los Angeles, says of Napoleons: "There are all kinds of reasons to love Napoleons, but at the top of my list is their flaky texture and the sound they make when you saw into them with a knife (not to mention the delicate crunch when you bite into those multiple layers of puff pastry)."  His observations count, regardless of whether the Napoleons in question are sweet or savory.

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I made one with vanilla bean and Nutella pastry cream filling that was good. The vanilla pastry cream was on the bottom and the Nutella pastry cream was on top. I love mille feuilles but they are a bit messy to eat. How do you keep the pastry cream from squishing out when you bite into it? And cutting them seems to be a pain, unless you freeze it or have very stiff filling.

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I made one with vanilla bean and Nutella pastry cream filling that was good. The vanilla pastry cream was on the bottom and the Nutella pastry cream was on top. I love mille feuilles but they are a bit messy to eat. How do you keep the pastry cream from squishing out when you bite into it? And cutting them seems to be a pain, unless you freeze it or have very stiff filling.

That's so funny... after I posted I was in the kitchen looking around and I spotted a tub of an Israeli hazelnut/chocolate spread - it's like the lightbulb went on. I was thinking of layering whipped cream and mixing the spread with cream of some sort - garnishing with some nuts.

When we cut large Napoleons on a pastry table, we use serrated knives... but in this case I'm making individual ones.

Melissa: My searching skills are pathetic! I searched for both terms and came up with nothing. Thanks :smile:

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I suggest taking a look at a thread we had a few months back on mini pastries, look here.

If you can see how what we were talking about fits your topic/thread you could be set free and see the millions of possiblities there are.

But...........I sure can understand having brain freeze, and I really enjoy hearing what other people think up soooooo I'll take a couple stabs at ideas for you:

I add fresh, poached, dried or canned fruits to my layers. From strawberries to apples to grapes, etc... You can also do other add-ins like chopped nuts, chocolate bits, coconut, etc...

You could flavor your pastry cream with alchols, fruit purees, nut pastes (like you did with nutella), extracts and oils, etc...

You could also put a different flavor on each layer of one napoleon. Last night on Sugar Rush he made a napoleon with one layer pistachio, one layer chocolate and one layer strawberry. Example: chocolate, peanut butter and banana or cinnamon, apples and lemon or pecan, cinnamon and bourbon, etc.... You could take a look at a thread I started here on flavor combinations if you need some flavor combo ideas.

As suggested previously, you don't have to be a slave to using classic pastry cream. You could use mousse or a bavarain as a filling or a combo of fillings. How about one layer of a rich buttercream, ganche or a jellie among your pastry cream.....

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Hubby's birthday is coming up and I'd like to make the perfect napoleon for him in lieu of a cake. Should I stick with simplicity and just do puff with layers of vanilla pastry cream? Any other ideas?

He's not big on berries......

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