Today was Thursday which meant my boyfriend didn't have work, which also meant we could spend every waking moment together (basically like every other day). Since we usually spend our time at his house, I had to bribe him to get him to come over to my place for a bit. I lured him with (1) he could bring his puppy, and (2) we could bake a Napoleon. I could go on and on about why I've been denying him Napoleons (similar reason why I didn't bake him the Red Velvet Cake), but let me just give you an analogy: A sandwich. A sandwich tastes good, but it's not very fun to make. You get two slices of bread and slather it with your desired topping. Although it still takes some time, such as if you wanted an egg salad sandwich (boil eggs, mash eggs, mix with mayo, whatever), IT STILL ISN'T FUN. Same with a stupid Napoleon. Period.
Puff pastry. These two measly sheets don't come cheap. My next mission is to attempt to hand make one of these with the help of my brand new Baking Illustrated cookbook.
The only part which needed actual baking/creating was the pastry cream. Now, I've made custard before (for my Strawberry Tart), but this one was slightly different. The basic tempering and whatnot was familiar, but the folding of whipped cream was different. Anyways, I made my boyfriend participate in this part to make it like a "boyfriend-girlfriend" activity.
Once the custard mixture cools down, we mixed it with the whipped cream.
Neither of us has worked with puff pastry before, so we were quite surprised when the flat sheet of dough rolled up this large. It literally quadrupled in size. So we had to improvise, and decided on cutting this large puffy dough square in half.
Now on to assembling the sandwich. The order is puff pastry, pastry cream, puff pastry, cream, final pastry, and on top of it all is icing. Simple enough.
So as my boyfriend was preparing the final layer of icing, I became distracted (probably going to check my photos or something) and wasn't there to oversee him. I came back, and milk was in my chocolate chip mixture (which was not stated in the directions) and I became very aggravated. I started yelling at him that all he had to do was melt the chocolate and to not stray from the directions. I should have known better, because every time we bake/cook together, he always has to do it his own way and not follow the recipe.
I quickly took over, and made beautiful lines of chocolate on the white creamy icing. I then swirled them as professionally as I could, and was gleaming with satisfaction. I turn my back for one second and I see my boyfriend grab a fork and draw crooked lines all over my beautiful creation. I began to boil with anger, followed by screaming and yelling on both of our parts. "I don't want to cook with you anymore. You aren't fun." - After hearing that, I began to rethink my whole approach on cooking.
It really hit my hard. I mean, we didn't create a gorgeous looking pastry, but the fact of the matter is that we did create something together. We spent time together doing something we both enjoy (baking for me, and eating for him, lol), and I should have just been happy for that fact alone.
Although it wasn't beautiful, the taste was surprisingly accurate. I was scared the pastry cream wouldn't come out creamy enough, or that the puff pastry was actually too puffy. Turns out, all my Nazi habits on baking are over-excessive. It tasted delicious and it really did taste like a Napoleon.
I went up to him and wrapped my arms around him and apologized. I am a baking Nazi, and I am a perfectionist.
Right after my apology, I told him that he should have followed the directions though (hehe, I always have to get the last word). It's true though, certain things you just must follow, especially in baking. He agreed, and we both got what we wanted from each other.
I suggested to him that we should have cooking/baking days every weekend (since that's the only time we really have together). We should plan it out beforehand, gather our ingredients, and prepare a dinner and dessert. We really to need to practice this working-together kind of thing- So I guess we'll see how it turns out when this actually happens.
Taken from Diana's Desserts.
ingredients for pastry:
1/2 of a 17 1/4-ounce package (1 sheet) frozen Puff Pastry, thawed (We used both sheets, and chopped them into 2/3rds so that we'd have 2 full three-layered Napoleons. The following ingredients weren't enough to make 2 Napoleons, so we basically only used 1 sheet.)
ingredients for pastry cream:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half or light cream (we used half-and-half)
2 slightly beaten egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup whipping cream
ingredients for glaze: (This is the part where my boyfriend followed no recipe and no directions- basically making his own slightly off-tasting glaze.)
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons boiling water
1+1/2 tablespoons melted semisweet chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or plain brown paper; set aside.
2. Unfold puff pastry sheet and trim edges to a 9-inch square. Cut pastry into nine 3-inch squares. Transfer pastry squares to the prepared baking sheets; prick pastry. Bake in a preheated oven for 18-23 minutes, or until golden. (Or bake according to package directions.) Carefully remove pastries from baking sheet. Cool on a rack. (We basically made our own version, and did not follow any of the directions for this puff pastry. Yeah, I know- I'm contradicting myself by not following the directions.)
3. Make pastry cream: In a heavy, medium saucepan stir together sugar, flour, and salt. Slowly stir in half-and-half or light cream. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Slowly stir about half of the hot mixture into beaten egg yolks. Return all to saucepan. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap and cool just until warm without stirring. In a small mixing bowl beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into warm pastry cream.
4. Make glaze: In a medium mixing bowl combine confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Stir in enough boiling water to make a glaze of spreading consistency; set aside.
5. Assembling: Use the tines of a fork to separate each pastry square horizontally into 3 layers. (didn't do that. we sliced them in half though)
6. Top with pastry cream.
7. Add another puff pastry layer. Top that one with pastry cream as well.
8. Top with final layer of puff pastry.
9. Spread glaze over top, then drizzle with melted chocolate. Chill for an hour.
Makes 9 napoleons. (I don't think so)