This recipe for Mini Strawberry Napoleons is one of those quick and easy recipes that look oh so elegant.. a perfect dessert for company… a great make ahead recipe that won’t keep you in the kitchen forever.
Napoleons are a family favorite… actually it was my brother’s favorite for years…
When I was growing up department store restaurants were popular.. every big department store had one … and one of our favorites was Lord & Taylor’s restaurant. It was called the Bird Cage restaurant.. and it was unique.. you paid going in… everything was the same price… it had a standard menu of maybe 4 or 5 choices and a daily special… the price included the entrée, a beverage and dessert.
Dessert was a choice from a dessert cart. My brother loved… I mean loved.. the Napoleons.. they were the chocolate variety… and he always asked for one.
Okay.. fast forward to now.. I had a beautiful bowl of very ripe strawberries to use.. and all this great Pastry Cream I was going to use for something else… then …I came across a Strawberry Napoleon recipe… ahh well… change in plans… Warren was not heartbroken… his attitude was.. bring it on…
This Mini Strawberry Napoleon recipe is adapted from a recipe from the folks at Pepperidge Farms. Their Puff Pastry sheets make this recipe a breeze.
I use Pastry Cream instead of instant vanilla pudding… while instant vanilla pudding is a bit quicker… pastry cream is so much better… the egg rich flavor just takes this recipe up a notch.
See my recipe for Pastry Cream.. it really is an easy recipe and well worth the effort… you can make it in advance and just assemble the Napoleons just before your guests arrive or just before serving.
When thawing the pastry sheets… do not go beyond the 40 minutes thawing time suggested on the box.. it will be too soft and difficult to unfold.
I researched various ways the puff pastry is baked for Napoleons.. you can make the flaky pastry more compact or fluffier.
To make it compact… (as pictured above)… follow my instructions below.
To make it fluffier… also see instructions below.
Napoleons are notoriously difficult to cut… even the ones you buy at a pastry shop… so when you use your fork to cut off a piece to eat.. it slides… just the way it is… you didn’t do anything wrong.
I found if you make the more compact recipe… make it ahead.. allow to cool.. make sure they are absolutely cooled before putting them into a plastic bag… then store the cooled baked pieces in a Zip Loc bag… assemble them hours later.. they are a bit softer and are easier for people to use a fork to eat them. .. but they're still flaky.
Another way to serve them as the compact pastry….you can also make them even smaller… cut the pastry pieces in half again… then bake them as I instruct below… they will make perfect bite size pieces for a mini pastry tray.
This will make… 8 Mini Napoleons with fluffy pastry or.... 4 with compact flaky pastry… or 16 bite size mini pastries.
Here goes… a very easy recipe.. I hope you try it!
Recipe: Mini Strawberry Napoleons
All you need:
1 puff pastry sheet from a 2 sheet box of Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
All you need to do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
To Prepare Pastry Dough:
On a lightly floured surface, unfold the pastry sheet.
Cut the pastry sheet along the two lines (making 3 equal pieces).
Then cut each piece into 4 equal pieces (making 12 pieces).
TIP - To make bite sized Napoleons: cut each piece in half.
Place on the parchment papered baking sheet.
To make a compact pastry: Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the pastry dough.
Place another baking sheet on top of the parchment paper (to compress the dough as it bakes).
To make fluffier pastry: Simply place the cut pastry pieces on a parchment papered baking sheet and do not compress it with another baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes or golden brown. Compressed pastry will take longer to bake… after 15 minutes, remove the top baking sheet and bake until pastry is golden brown.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
For the fluffy pastry: Split each piece into 2 layers. You now have 24 pieces…. reserve 8 of them for a top layer. Layer each of the remaining pastry with about a tablespoon of pastry cream then place sliced strawberries on top. Place one layered piece of pastry on another, making 2 layers. Then top with a reserved pastry piece. You will have 3 layers of pastry per piece. This will make 8 pastries.
For the compact pastry: Reserve 4 pieces of pastry for a top layer. Spread about a tablespoon of pastry cream on each of the remaining pieces then place sliced strawberries on top. Place one layered piece of pastry on another, making 2 layers. Then top with a reserved pastry piece. You will have 3 layers of pastry per piece. This will make 4 pastries.
Dust with powdered sugar. Place a strawberry slice on top of each for decoration.
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