Whenever you go to a Patisserie in France, you can ask for a baguette, a croissant, a brioche or a pain au chocolat but among all the French specialties you can find in a Patisserie, you can also find the Mille-Feuilles.
That dessert is really a French basic. It is sold as a single portion or a larger desert to share. And when you go to a Patisserie, if you want a Mille-Feuilles this is what you have to look for: 3 layers of puff patry with 2 layers of pastry cream in between and a layer of fondant on top with chocolate fondant stripes to make it easy to identify.
As I learned how to make it, I really was thinking that it was among my least favorite desert. To me, it looks very old-fashioned and most of the time, the vanilla pastry cream is very heavy and the fondant on top makes it definitely too sweet… but it’s only a point of view! Most of my friends still love it as it is today!
Anyway, I came to look at new ways to make the Mille-Feuilles and I gave it another try… and I have to say that I changed my mind.
It’s still the same recipe but you can make it more glamorous by adding fruits, color and flavor and also make it look different in term of presentation…
Here it is…. the Strawberry and Pistachio Mille-Feuilles! And it is even quicker to prepare as you don’t have to spread fondant on top of the Mille-Feuilles!
Ingredients for the puff pastry layers:
- one puff pastry sheets
- icing sugar
- 2 baking trays
Method for the puff pastry layers:
Roll out your puff pastry on a baking tray covered with a silicon mat or a piece or parchment paper. If you are using a block of puff pastry, roll it into a rectangle about 25 cm x 35 cm and about 5 mm high. Keep it about 1/2h in the fridge.
Preheat your oven to 170° and once the pastry is firm and cold, cover it with another tray or a rack about the same size as the pastry. The pastry needs to be covered otherwise it will rise too much.
Bake it for about 20 min until the pastry gets a nice golden color. Let it cool down on the baking tray.
Increase the temperature of your oven to 250° or on the grill. Using a sieve, cover the puff pastry with a thin layer of icing sugar and put it back in the oven for 2-3 minutes until the surface is caramelized. Depending on your oven, you will have to stay close to your oven and maybe turn the tray after 1 minute if only one part of the pastry get caramelized.You can also finish it with a blow torch.
While the puff pastry is still hot and the caramelized sugar still soft, cut it with a serrated knife into 3 stripes of the same size (10 cm x 20 cm). As the edges may not be perfectly straight, cut the edges to be sure to have three layers matching perfectly.
Here is the result…
Ingredients for the pastry cream:
- 25 cl of whole milk
- 2 cl of vanilla extract or a vanilla pod cut lengthwise and seeds scrapped with a sharp knife
- 2 yolks
- 45 g of sugar
- 1 tsp of pistachio paste
- 25g of butter diced
- 25 g of corn flour or flour or 1/2 and 1/2
- 2 gelatin leaves soaked in cold water
- 1 tbsp of Mascarpone
- Fresh strawberries cleaned and cut into quarters or whole raspberries.
Method for the pastry cream:
In a pan, bring to a boil the milk and the vanilla extract (even better if you have a vanilla pod!).
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and the yolks till creamy white. Whisk in the flour or corn flour then pour in the milk and the pistachio paste. Whisk it and pour it back into the pan.
Gently bring the pastry cream to a boil and constantly whisk it. The liquid will very quickly get thick and stick to the pan. If you have been using flour, keep on whisking as it is boiling (at least one minute) to get rid of the flour taste.
When the pastry cream is cooked, turn the heat off and incorporate the diced butter and the soaked gelatin leaves.
Whisk again then pour it into a bowl, cover with cling film and let it cool down. If you want your pastry cream very smooth and creamy, you can mix it with a hand held food processor then cover it with cling film.
Method for assembling the Mille-Feuilles:
Get the pastry cream out of the fridge and give it a good whisk. You can even incorporate a tbsp of Mascarpone at that stage to get it smoother.
Pour it in a piping bag with a nozzle about 8-10 mm.
On a flat surface or a rack, place the first layer of puff pastry.
If your layers are not all nicely caramelized or if one of them as a hole or any imperfection, keep it for the middle layer and keep the nicest one for the top…
Pipe the pastry cream on the puff pastry, about 3-4 generous heaps next to each others or nice lines a few millimeters from the borders of the pastry as it will expend a little with the pressure.
Now place the strawberries in between the pastry cream heaps and press gently on top of each one to make sure they will stick to the cream.
Cover them with another layer of puff pastry and keep going on with the same process until you have placed the last layer of puff pastry.
To finish, you can simply sprinkle icing sugar on top of the Mille-Feuilles.
I like to let a nice stripe of caramelized puff pastry apparent. I just place a piece of folded paper on top of the Mille-Feuilles and sprinkle the icing sugar on the puff pastry still uncovered.
Here you are…. Your Mille-Feuilles is ready to serve!
When it comes to cutting the Mille-Feuilles, use a long serrated knife such as bread knife and start to cut in the middle of the cake and on the edges. It will be easier and the slices will look very professional.