We have a tradition in our family, when going out for any celebrations, we do not order dessert at restaurants, instead we all gather at our daughters home and enjoy what ever dessert I make with a hot cup of fragrant tea or espresso. I usually ask in advance “What would you like me to bake”? This time for Father’s Day, my daughter said: “I can’t remember for how long, mom, you didn’t bake Napoleons”. Being a good mother, I always do my best to fulfill my children’s and grandchildren’s requests. When we returned from the restaurant and I opened a large carton box with the green Napoleon pastries, there was a very funny reaction: “What happened? Did you think it’s Saint Patrick’s?” When I explained that this weeks contest’s theme at food52 is “your best dishes with avocado”, everybody looked at me with great pity, which I translated: “Poor mom is getting a little abscessed”. Little did they know that on the way to the restaurant, I also sneaked into their freezer another green concoction “ Avocado-Mascarpone Semifreddo”, which seeing the reaction on the green Napoleons, I decided not to mention. Any way, I convinced them to taste the pastries and everybody was pleasantly surprised how delicious they were. The avocado, lime zest and juice add an unexpected savoriness and lightness to the rich pastry cream and crispy puff pastry. —Kukla
- Makes 12 napoleon pastries
• 1 package frozen, all-butter, puff pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator
• 2 1/2 cups whole milk
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1 vanilla bean
• 1/2 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons
• 3 extra large egg yolks
• 2 ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
• 1 tablespoon lime zest+ 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1/2 cup slivered almonds or macadamia nuts, toasted
• Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Bake the pastries: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Take 1 sheet of puff pastry and lay out flat on a lightly floured working surface, with the long side facing you. Following the folding lines, cut in 3 pieces lengthwise and then each piece cut in 4 equal pieces. Repeat with the other sheet of puff pastry, so you have 24 equal pieces.
- Bake on two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Before transferring to the oven, duck each piece of pastry all over with a small fork. Bake 10 minutes; then reduce temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes more (pastry should be baked through and deep golden-brown). Cool on a wire rack to room temperature.
- To make the pastry cream: Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean. In a heavy saucepan, combine milk, vanilla bean and seeds, and 1/2 cup sugar. Scald the mixture and immediately remove from heat.
- Beat egg yolks with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until thick. Sprinkle in cornstarch and continue beating until mixed. Beat half of the hot milk into yolk mixture. Return this to the remaining hot milk and bring to a boil quickly, whisking very fast to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl to cool. Discard vanilla bean.
- Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely. Can be made 2 to 4 hours in advance.
- Puree avocados, lime zest and juice, salt and butter in a food processor until very smooth. Just before using, gently fold in with a spatula into the chilled pastry cream until fully incorporated.
- To assemble: using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut off very thin strips from all four ends of each pastry piece, this step will make them even and dispose all layers of the puff pastry, (reserve all the scraps, which you cut of).
- Spread 1 tablespoon of the avocado pastry cream on a piece puff pastry, place another pastry piece and spread the top with 1 more tablespoon of the cream; repeat the same process with all the remaining pastry pieces; return to the wire rack and place in refrigerator for 1/2 hour to set.
- In a food processor combine nuts and the puff pastry scraps, pulse a few times until coarse crumbs form. Evenly sprinkle over the tops of each of the pastries and then dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve as soon as possible; otherwise the puff pastry absorbs moisture and becomes soft.