Strawberry Napoleon Dessert
Learn how to make a beautiful Strawberry Napoleon dessert. With its delicate layers of buttery puff pastry and juicy strawberries, this classic Mille-Feuille dessert is sure to impress. This impressive strawberry puff pastry dessert is surprisingly easy to make and requires just a handful of ingredients.
If you’re searching for a dessert that exudes elegance, sophistication, and heavenly flavors, look no further than the Strawberry Napoleon. This timeless classic, also known as the Napoleon Dessert, or Mille-Feuille, is a true masterpiece that combines the buttery puff pastry with the vibrant sweetness of ripe strawberries.
Strawberry Napoleons are the perfect French dessert for spring, summer, or any special occasion. They would be delightful served at brunch or afternoon tea alongside some lavender tea, tea sandwiches, scones, and macarons.
The Origins of Mille-Feuille
The roots of the Napoleon dessert can be traced back to France, where it is known as mille-feuille, meaning “thousand leaves.” The term “mille-feuille” refers to the multiple layers of pastry that give the dessert its signature flaky and light texture.
As the mille-feuille gained popularity, its influence spread across Europe, leading to various regional variations and names for the dessert. In different countries, it is known by different names, reflecting the cultural nuances and adaptations of the recipe.
In Italy, the dessert is called “mille foglie,” which means “a thousand layers,” while in Spain and Latin American countries, it is known as “milhojas,” and in the Netherlands, it is called “tompouce.”
What’s in a Napoleon Dessert? The Perfect Combination of Layers and Flavors
The Napoleon dessert is a true masterpiece that delights both the eyes and the palate with its exquisite layers.
1. Puff Pastry: At the heart of the Napoleon dessert lies the flaky and buttery puff pastry. This delicate pastry is made by layering butter between thin sheets of dough and then folding and rolling it multiple times. When baked, the layers separate and puff up, creating a light and crisp texture that is the foundation of the dessert’s indulgent experience. While you can make homemade puff pastry, we like to simplify by using store-bought dough found in the freezer aisle.
2. Cream Filling: Nestled between the layers of puff pastry is a luxurious cream filling that adds richness and a velvety texture. The filling can vary, but it is often a luscious pastry cream or a whipped cream infused with flavors like vanilla, almond, or citrus. The cream filling provides a delightful contrast to the flakiness of the pastry, balancing the dessert’s texture and adding a creamy indulgence to each bite.
3. Fresh Strawberries: The star of the show are the fresh strawberries. These vibrant and juicy berries are often sliced and generously placed on top of the cream layer. The strawberries bring a burst of natural sweetness, a touch of tartness, and a beautiful pop of color to the Napoleon dessert.
4. Optional Garnishes: While the basic components of puff pastry, cream filling, and strawberries form the foundation of a Napoleon dessert, there are endless possibilities for additional garnishes and embellishments. Some variations include a dusting of powdered sugar, a drizzle of chocolate sauce, a sprinkling of toasted nuts, or a garnish of fresh mint leaves.
Crafting the Perfect Strawberry Napoleon
Creating your own Strawberry Napoleon is a fun and creative experience. While the exact recipe may vary, the general process involves layering the puff pastry with a luscious cream filling and fresh strawberries.
- To start, the puff pastry is baked until golden brown and puffed to perfection. Once cooled, it’s carefully sliced into individual layers, ready to be stacked with the other components.
- The crisp puff pastry layers are filled with preserves, cream, and berries, adding a burst of color and freshness.
- For an extra touch of elegance, the top layer of puff pastry is often dusted with powdered sugar or glazed.
Variations: The Versatility of Strawberry Napoleon
The beauty of the Napoleon Dessert lies not only in its exquisite taste but also in its versatility. There are countless variations and creative adaptations that can be explored.
For instance, you can infuse the cream filling with a hint of vanilla or lemon, or incorporate other seasonal fruits. Additionally, you can experiment with different toppings such as chocolate drizzle, caramel sauce, or crushed nuts to add an extra layer of decadence.
For a vegan Napoleon, use whipped coconut cream and a plant-based puff pastry.
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
- 18 strawberries, sliced
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
- Cut the puff pastry sheet into 6 equal rectangles and transfer them to the baking sheet leaving at least an inch of space in-between each one.
- Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 12 -15 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and is a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar to a medium-sized mixing bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk until cream is whipped and holds peaks. Then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a piping nozzle (we used a Wilton 1M).
- When the puff pastry has cooled cut each rectangle in half so you have 12.
- Spread one half of the pastry with 2 teaspoons of jam then pipe swirls of cream on top. Add the sliced strawberries (approx 2-3 strawberries per puff) then sandwich with the other half of the puff pastry rectangle.
- Repeat for the rest of the pastry. You will have 6 Strawberry Napoleons in total.
- Finally, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
- Feel free to add some vanilla bean or lemon zest to the cream for extra flavor. Raspberries and blueberries also work well. Add a drizzle of chocolate ganache on top if you like chocolate.
- You could make this same dessert with three layers instead of two. Double the ingredients as written and repeat step 7 in the recipe for multiple layers
- After cutting the thawed puff pastry into rectangles and baking in the oven the pastry will puff up into pockets that can be sliced in half and filled. As puff pastry is pretty fragile it’s a good idea to use a sharp bread knife to cut them open otherwise the pastry might tear or get squashed out of shape.
Strawberry Napoleons are best the day they are made but can be stored longer. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days. You can prepare the puff pastry in advance and then store it in an airtight container at room temperature ready to assemble later.