napoleon and charlotte.

strawberry napoleon

if i was a cartoon-drawing kind of gal, i would have a comic strip involving a couple named napoleon and charlotte....

per miss deborah's request: a strawberry napoleon, made with puff pastry, a grand marnier-laced vanilla bean pastry cream, and sliced fresh strawberry. adapted from yet another ludo lefebvre recipe. the most noteworthy thing about it was the absolute ease of making this, as almost everything must be done well in advance, and each component (while time consuming) is pretty easy to make. the second most noteworthy thing: it was the first time i had made puff pastry. huzzah! another thing to cross off my list! and--i am so not pulling your leg, your finger, your nothin' on this--it was insanely not difficult to do at all. i'm not saying i did a stellar job on the matter (will i ever get the hang of rolling dough out evenly? maybe there are speed bumps on my table), but even a 50% effort yields a pastry that is 150% better than your average supermarket puff pastry dough. i always thought the puff was difficult as when i'd use the frozen stuff, it would shrink too much, be too greasy, and brown unevenly; this worked like it should. anyway, i reckon that once i get the hang of it, it deserves a post of its own. the pastry cream was one of the easiest pastry cream recipes i've tried, and one of the tastiest. chef lefebvre's version included whole vanilla beans and a generous glug of bourbon--i doubled the vanilla and substituted orange-flavoured liqueur for the bourbon. this was a little runnier than i had hoped (i blame the booze), so i'll either cut down on the amount of booze, or cook the pastry cream a little longer for a firmer product.

napoleons have never been my favourite because usually the pastry is a little stale, or the pastry cream too sweet; also, arrgh, no matter how genteel you are, they are very messy to eat. this one was as fresh as it was going to get, with delicate, flaky pastry, a lightly sweetened, flavoured cream, and of course, the bounty of perfectly ripe strawberries. and yes, still a freakin' mess to eat.

strawberry charlotte

and miss susan's suggestion: a strawberry charlotte, a delightful name for a cake if there ever was one. this one was made with a base and white picket fence of ladyfingers/savoiardi, filled with an amaretto-laced bavarian cream and topped with fruit. another first, making those ladyfingers, which are cookies made with a sponge cake batter, often in the shape of fat...fingers. ladyfingers! seriously, i'm built like a peasant, but even my manhands are more delicate than this. however, the cake seems not to be the least bit bothered, with billowy clouds of silky cream and vibrant berries all wrapped up in a fluffy pink-sashed party dress. again, the ladyfinger recipe from pierre herme was actually not difficult, and yes, my 50% maxim still applies. a little more practice, and maybe i can get those stubby fingers to look a lot more ladylike.

the bavarian cream was simply the ludo vanilla bean pastry cream--this time flavoured with amaretto liqueur--folded into copious amounts of whipped cream, and stabilized with a tiny bit of gelatin. plonked on top are endless amounts of sliced strawberries, but not so endless that i don't have more berry delights forthcoming....



wow these are sooo beautiful! i love it! man you are one diligent lady. i really need to start hitting up the ludo book. i'm making the preserved chanterelles tonight. after reading your post i'm tempted to try the puff pastry. so scary though!

¡hola dogma! :)

hey susan! preserved chantarelles!!!!! those would be *great* with puff pastry. it really wasn't difficult at all. the only thing is that you have to complete the whole process in one session: there are several folds you have to complete, and if you don't do it in the time specified, it gets a little funky. still edible, but not the best for presentation!

oh, thank goodness we have been unswitched!

those are lovely and I quite applaud yr industry.

the light in yr new pad is quite different.

Your desserts look stunning. It doesn't matter if they are messy to eat, the first impression is great!

Oh my gosh those both look so good! When do you find the time??? They're beautiful Santos!

So it's bedtime and I just had to read one more blog and you made me drool all over my laptop. They both look sooooo tasty.

If I ever get my oven fixed I'm going to try and make the pastry.

Napoleon and Charlotte, sitting down for some tea, and always only lovely laced tablecloths upon which drool-worthy sweets are served. Salivating here!

that's great. did you lower the temp on the the air con when you made the puff pastry? i always worry that making puff pastry on guam/manila/tropical place will be difficult b/c the butter & dough layers will have a higher tendency to blend into one another.

wow, the napoleons looks fantastic

hallo michelle, it's actually just a different room :)

katie, yes, its taste is the most important part :)

hi cathy! everything was quite easy, broken down in parts. so i did puff pastry one night, the pastry cream the next night, then baked off the napoleon pastry sheets. not so bad!

hi vanda, oh yes, i hope you do! if you do the puff pastry, you'll need a food processor or be very agile with forks...and do all the steps for folding the dough in one session, don't be tempted to leave one of the folds for later!

republic of candy, perfect! now can you just illustrate that please :)

hello maxima, i did turn on the a/c, but i didn't lower the temperature from its normal 'low cool' setting--i just wanted to take the edge off the humidity. the steps are quite simple, and fairly quick; there's chilling in between each folding and layering process so it doesn't get too warm.

hello sakai, napoleons are not my favourite dessert, but this was one of the best ones i've had!