Flaky, crispy layers of golden puff pastry are filled with creamy custard and jammy sour cherries. These French Napoleons are elegant, beautiful, and out of this world! These pastries are truly delicate and stunning in taste and looks. These were on of my recipes featured on The FeedFeed.
Finding time to make pastry like this Mille Feuille with homemade puff pastry has not been easy lately. So I’ll be honest, the girls had a lot of screen time today so I could make each element and assemble these!
Note that this makes enough for 8 Napoleons. But you can divide the dough in half and save the second batch for a different use.
The following Napoleons can be made as two large Mille Feuille or 8 little napoleons. There are three parts to it: the homemade puff pastry, jammy cherries, and pastry cream. You can use this recipe for any of the recipe components you would like. In fact, use different flavor pastry cream or fresh fruit to switch it up. Or use the sweetened whip cream from my Choux Pastry. For the napoleons pictured I made vanilla bean custard and folded in some melted caramelized white chocolate. Use store-bought or homemade.
While I usually use fresh fruit when I make any type of Mille Feuille, the pandemic has me going to the store less often and relying on frozen fruits more. The cherries are made in a similar fashion as pie filling and jam. Then the cherries are set Whole into the napoleons. The jammy juice seeps into the caramelized white chocolate pastry cream for a nutty white chocolate cherry flavor.
The Quarantine Daze
After weeks of lockdown, The quarantine daze is really starting to hit. The quarantine has changed many people’s daily routines. But honestly since I’m a hermit stay at home mom I was made for this. I’ve loved having the girls home full time again. Since Bea started kindergarten this year it was the first time Tilly and I were without her for long stretches. So the girls have thoroughly enjoyed this time back together.
However, I will admit, they do not leave me alone for one minute! I’ve had some moments where I thought I’d go nuts! I can’t even go to the bathroom without little feet outside the door and fingers wiggling at me from under the door space. And the phrase, “I need a snack” haunts me. I get the yell of “Mom?” 30 times an hour for no reason but they needed to say it. That’s parenthood!
So I woke up missing and needing some major me / pastry time yesterday. Baking is definitely therapeutic for me as much as it’s a hobby I enjoy. I am missing getting to do my live recipe segments, so I’ve been doing cooking demonstrations on Instagram a lot. And I’ve been putting the kids to work on Instagram cooking easy dishes like Disney Dole Whip and Magic Lemonade! They have loved it and now they are getting requests for videos, which is hilarious to me! And a popular TV morning show even invited them to do a segment once productions get back to normal.
I hope you all are staying safe and healthy. I’d love to hear more of what you have been up to. And keep those recipe requests for The Gelner Girls coming!
Out of all French pastries, napoleons and Choux au craquelin buns are my most beloved. I love crunchy, delicate pastry with creamy pastry cream more than any other dessert. Desserts like Napoleons are what got me hooked on baking in the first place. The best pastry baking books for passionate sweeties are the following.
As I mentioned in my post for Brioche Feuilletee, When I was a young child we went to France. My Mom said that was when my love affair with French pastry started. But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I got good at making it. Pastry takes time, focus, and attention to detail. I don’t always have those qualities going on at the same time! And I’m definitely being pulled in different directions these days with the COVID pandemic and homeschooling going on.
But this labor of love is well worth it once you shatter those crispy layers and lose yourself in pastry cream dreams.
Puff Pastry Tips & Tricks
Here are a few tips for perfect puff pastry.
Don’t rush the process! It is important to allow full chilling time after each step.
Keep track of how many folds you are doing. An easy way to do this is to use your fingers to imprint the dough gently with how many you have done right before you chill it.
Use dry butter. I love going with extra dry butter that is 84% butterfat. It has a lower content of water. Brands like Kerrygold or Plugra are my go-to for making homemade puff pastry and any laminated dough.
Roll the pastry paper thin for French Napoleons.
Fork prick your rolled out puff pastry before baking.
Start at a higher heat and then reduce the oven temperature after 10 minutes. Weighing the puff pastry down during baking is essential to keep it from puffing up too much.
Trim the sheets after baking to show off your layers.
Assemble the Napoleons right before you serve them to keep the puff crispy and prevent the pastry cream from congealing.
*You can freeze half of this recipe for future use. Just freeze it after the final folding process. If you freeze this puff pastry or divide it and freeze half for future use, make sure to allow it to thaw completely in the fridge before unrolling it or it will break!
Thanks for making French Napoleons using homemade puff pastry! Follow me on Instagram for more free recipes, food pics, and fun IGTV recipe videos!
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French Napoleons with Homemade Puff Pastry
Note that this makes enough for 8 Napoleons, or you can divide the dough in half and save the second batch for a different use.
Caramelized White Chocolate Pastry Cream
In a large mixing bowl, add the cold water and salt. Then mix in melted butter.
Add flour and mix with a dough scraper.
Lightly flour a surface and place detrempe down. Knead it a few times gently until smooth. Then flatten it into a rectangular disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Take the dry butter and use a rolling pin to tap and flatten it into a square. Trim excess as needed and put the pieces back into the butter block, keeping it a square.
Then take the pastry dough and roll it into a rectangle. Place butter block in the middle and fold the dough over it. Bring top down over and then the bottom.
Roll out the dough to a rectangle. Take bottom third and fold over middle. Then fold top third over the middle. Rotate the dough 90 degrees. Roll it into another rectangle and repeat the folding process. Mark the dough with 2 fingers. Chill 30 minutes.
Then repeat the process two more times. (You will do 2 turns twice each time). Chill 30 minutes in between each process. Then divide into 2 equal pieces and chill the dough for 30 minutes before rolling out to bake.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll pastry out to paper thin. If measuring, go with 2 mm.
Roll each piece of dough into 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Put onto a parchment lined baking sheet and dock with fork.
Bake for 8 minutes. Then as it starts to puff up, reduce the heat to 375 degrees F, and put a second baking sheet over the puff pastry. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until deep golden brown.
Then trim the edges and cut into 12 equal rectangles.
In a heatproof bowl, melt the caramelized white chocolate. Start with 1 minute. Stir until smooth. If it needs more time, heat 10 seconds more. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with cornstarch and 1/4 cup of milk.
In a saucepan set over medium low heat, whisk together remaining milk with salt and sugar. Once it heats, temper some into the egg mixture using a steady, pencil thin stream while whisking eggs.
Pour whole mixture back into saucepan. Whisk constantly until it thickens. Takes 6-9 minutes,
Then pour over the melted caramelized white chocolate and whisk to combine. Put cling wrap against pastry cream to prevent a film and chill for at least 1 hour.
Add all ingredients to a saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium low.
Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until cherries are soft and the juice has thickened, stirring occasionally.
Place a rectangle of puff pastry down. Pipe out the pastry cream, leaving space for fruit. Add fruit. Top with another piece of puff pastry and repeat this process. Dust with powdered sugar.