Mille-feuille (thousand sheets), also known as Napoleon, is a classic French dessert made up of alternating layers of puff pastry and pastry cream, with a black & white pattern icing. Although it is ready in just a few easy steps, making the cream from scratch and creating the icing pattern can be daunting for someone who's never done this before.
I used vegan cream cheese instead of pastry cream and iced the top with powdered sugar and strawberry jam - piece of cake! Fresh strawberries give this dessert the perfect summery finish. It's so delicious and refreshing, it's hard to keep any leftovers for next day.
What you need...
- 1 puff pastry sheet (28 cm x 21 cm)
- 1 1/2 tubs (225 g/tub) vegan cream cheese (cold from the fridge)
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup powdered sugar (add more if needed)
- more powdered sugar for dusting the sheets (about 1 heaped Tb/sheet)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tb freshly squeezed lemon juice
- fine semolina
- 1 1/2 cups medium size strawberries
- 1 Tb seedless strawberry jam (alternatively use a sieve to remove the seeds)
- 100 g almond flakes
Step 1: Prepare the pastry
- Remove the pastry from the freezer and from its package. Let it defrost onto its protective plastic sheet for about an hour, unrolling it as it thaws (rather than waiting until it is all thawed). By doing this, the pastry doesn't become too soft and will be easier to handle.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Cut the pastry in 4 (parallel with the short end). Sprinkle some fine semolina onto a baking tray and place the pastry sheets onto it, leaving 1.5-2 cm space between them. Prick the surface of the pastry with a fork and dust generously with sugar.
- Bake for about 15 minutes until golden and crispy. If they become too puffy or uneven, deflate and level them half way through using a spatula.
- Remove from oven onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Whisk the cold cream cheese in a bowl for a few seconds to soften it. Add sugar, vanilla and lemon juice to taste. Mix just enough to combine the ingredients. Divide the cream into 4.
- Wash the strawberries, remove the stems and cut them in half.
- Toast the almond flakes until they start to change colour and let cool.
- Place a pastry sheet onto a serving plate. Spread a thin layer of cream over it and place strawberries cut side down, leaving spaces between them. Cover with the remaining of 1/4 cream, filling the spaces as well. Repeat the procedure and finish with the fourth pastry sheet. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to set a little.
- Divide the last 1/4 cream in half and use a knife or spatula to cover the long sides of the cake and stick almond flakes to the cream. Dust the top with powdered sugar and refrigerate for a further 15-20 minutes.
- Mix the jam with a little water and pipe a pattern of your choice. Using a serrated knife trim the short edges. Cut into thick slices and serve. Note: The longer it stays in the fridge, the less crispy the pastry will be.
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