|NO NEED TO SPELL IT OUT: MAGNIFICENT MILLE FEUILLE|
(I have to say I didn't feel any guilt creating – or eating – this dessert!)
Suz provided an excellent recipe and step-by-step instructions for the mille feuille, from the pastry to the filling and assembly. I followed the recipe for the puff pastry exactly and didn't have any problems.
To make a small mille feuille, I only needed half of the pastry and used the other half for some old-school cream horns which took me back to my childhood.
Suz wrote that the traditional mille feuille is filled with a vanilla pastry cream (crème pâtissière). It is also known as a Napoleon (thought to refer to Naples in Italy rather than the diminutive French emperor), a custard slice or a vanilla slice. It’s often topped with royal icing and distinctive chocolate squiggles.
|Succulent and sweet red dragon fruit|
Well, my strips of pastry were a little burnt and so I thought I would draw attention away from that by building the layers up with slices of fruit. I've read that strawberries are commonly used, but I stayed local and used red dragon fruit. Instead of a custard-based pastry cream, my mille feuille has a filling of whipped cream and jam – it takes less work but is no less delicious, I think. The vanilla icing for the top is also much easier to make and doesn't contain raw egg whites as in a royal icing. The chocolate icing for the feathered effect is a paste of cocoa powder, powdered sugar and water.
French for "thousand sheets", the mille feuille gets its name from the multi-layered puff pastry which expands when cooked. However, the pastry layers of the mille feuille are actually pressed down while baking to prevent this from happening and I've always wondered why. None of my reference books nor online searches has an explanation. I posed this question on the Daring Bakers forum and Heather, Renata and Suz had thought about it too. Renata and Suz suggest it might be for texture since puffed up, "bumpy" pastry isn't very neat or flat. That's certainly plausible.
A thousand visible sheets or not, no one can say this dish wouldn't be the high point of any high tea.
|The slicing could be a little less messy :-p|
Mille Feuille with Dragon Fruit
325g puff pastry, preferably homemade (here are the recipe and instructions)
125g (1 cup) icing sugar, sifted
¼ tsp vanilla extract
30g (¼ cup) icing sugar, sifted
½ tbsp cocoa powder
110g raspberry jam
160ml cream, whipped
½ large red dragon fruit
On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to about 30cm x 24cm. Cut the rectangle into three equal pieces (10cm x 24cm).
Place the pastry on a large baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper. Prick the pastry strips all over with a fork. Place another sheet of grease-proof paper over the top and then a heavy baking tray.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake the pastry for about 25 minutes, removing the top layer of grease-proof paper and tray 10 minutes before the end for the tops to brown. Keep an eye on them and lower the temperature if they are browning too much. Cool on a wire rack.
To make Chocolate Icing: Mix the icing sugar and cocoa with ½ tbsp hot water to get a smooth paste like melted chocolate, adding more water if necessary. Spoon into a paper icing bag.
To make Vanilla Icing: In a heatproof bowl, mix the icing sugar and vanilla with 1-1½ tsp hot water. Stand the bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring until the icing is smooth and glossy. Spread icing on one of the cooled pastry strips. Pipe diagonal lines with Chocolate Icing. Drag a skewer along the icing at intervals in alternate directions to give a feathered effect. Leave to set on a wire rack.
To make the filling: Peel the dragon fruit and cut the half into four wedges. Cut each wedge into thin slices. Spread jam over the two un-iced pastry strips and top with slices of dragon fruit, overlapping them slightly. Cover the fruit with whipped cream. Finally, sandwich the three layers together with the iced strip on top.
Cut into six slices with a serrated knife and serve.