Phyllo Napoleon With Strawberry & Rose

June 24, 2021
1 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.
  • Prep time 3 hours
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • makes 6
Test Kitchen Notes

Strawberries, pistachios, and a hint of rose water come together like a dream in Sohla’s summery take on napoleons. Light, crispy phyllo dough (an easy store-bought swap for classic puff pastry) gets sandwiched between layers of vanilla bean-infused pastry cream and spoonfuls of berries—the sweetest way to send off the warm-weather season.

This recipe is shared in partnership with Miele. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Phyllo Napoleon With Strawberry & Rose
  • For the vanilla custard:
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 grams) whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (180 grams) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (128 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) cornstarch
  • For the phyllo layers:
  • 3/4 cup (100 grams) finely ground pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 pound phyllo, thawed
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) melted unsalted butter
  • For the assembly:
  • 3 pints (672 grams) strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  • Granulated sugar, to taste
  • Rose water, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Confectioners' sugar, for serving
  1. Make the vanilla custard: In a medium saucepot, combine the milk, cream, sugar, and salt. Using the tip of a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add the pod and seeds to the milk mixture.
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and cover. Steep for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the cornstarch. Over medium heat, return the milk mixture to a simmer. Using a ladle, whisk half the milk mixture into the eggs, one ladleful at a time (to gently warm up the eggs). Whisk the egg mixture into the pot with the remaining milk and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Simmer for 1 minute, whisking constantly.
  4. Set a wire mesh sieve over a medium bowl and strain the custard, pressing the mixture through with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap directly pressed against the surface of the custard and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
  5. Bake the phyllo: Heat the oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, combine the nuts, sugar, salt, and cardamom.
  6. Prepare the phyllo by trimming the stack of it to fit the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet. Packages of phyllo come in different sizes; some won't need any trimming, some may need an inch or two cut off a side, and some may need two pieces laid side-by-side for full coverage. Cover phyllo layers with a slightly damp kitchen towel.
  7. Brush the rimmed baking sheet with butter. Line the pan with phyllo, brush with more melted butter, and lay another sheet of phyllo on top. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle one-third of the nut mixture on top. Repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo and another third of the nut mixture, followed by 2 more sheets of phyllo and the remaining nut mixture, finished with 2 sheets of phyllo on top. (You should have 8 layers of phyllo and 3 layers of nuts, with each layer brushed with butter.) Brush the top with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Using a sharp paring knife, divide the dough lengthwise into thirds. Then cut crosswise into sixths, resulting in 18 rectangles.
  9. Bake until deeply golden brown, about 10 to 13 minutes. Set aside to cool. (The phyllo squares can be baked in advance and kept stacked in an airtight container for 3 days.)
  10. To assemble: Toss the sliced strawberries with sugar and rose water, to taste.
  11. Using a stiff rubber spatula, stir the chilled custard until smooth. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Stir one-third of the whipped cream into the custard to loosen, then fold in the remaining whipped cream.
  12. For each napoleon, place a piece of phyllo on a plate or shallow bowl, top with ¼ cup of custard, using the back of a spoon to spread it and make a slight divot in the center for the berries. Fill with 2 heaping spoonfuls of berries. Repeat with another piece of phyllo, custard, and berries, and top with a final piece of phyllo. Repeat, making as many napoleons as needed. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve right away.

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Sohla El-Waylly is a Food52 Resident, sharing new riffable recipes every month that'll help you get creative in the kitchen. Watch her cook on YouTube in her new series, Off-Script With Sohla. Before she started developing fun recipes for home cooks, she worked as a chef in N.Y.C. and L.A., briefly owning a restaurant in Brooklyn with her husband and fellow chef, Ham El-Waylly. She lives in the East Village with Ham, their two dogs, and cat. Find out what else she's up to on Instagram @sohlae

2 Reviews

beejay45 September 16, 2021
Just watched this video. Sohla always makes me feel like I can do what she's doing, easy and informative. My only question/comment is that I wondered why she made the effort to pat the layers of the phyllo together rather than leaving them loose to crisp and separate. My favorite coffee place in SF when I was in college made their Napoleons with phyllo, and it was more like Baklava in density or texture. Naturally, that's the way I like it now, but I was wondering if there was a reason she preferred to lock the layers together? Are they more fragile or harder to handle if left loose and sort of floating?
I love the addition of the rose in this. It's one of my favorite flavors when used sparingly as it is here. Orange flower water and pandan essence are other somewhat unusual flavors that can add exquisite hints of perfume to various fruits.
Good clear directions. Good tips and technniques. Good recipe concept. Five stars, if we did that here. /;)
beejay45 September 16, 2021
Well, he**, we do do stars here. And why is there still no (obvious) way to edit our comments???