After the spaghetti and meatballs were gone, the engagement ring was still burning a hole in my pocket, but having missed my opportunity to carry out my planned proposal at the beginning of the meal, I had no choice but to carry on with dessert. These Napoleons were delicious but messy--the pudding and cream mixture wasn't thick enough to stay inside the "sandwiches", as can be seen in the photo.
Homemade vanilla pudding is a real treat--I never considered myself to be a pudding man, but this recipe is amazing. The Gastronomer enjoyed it as well, and she still didn't suspect a thing...
Recipe by The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Strain the pudding through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Stir the butter and vanilla into the pudding until the butter is melted. Press plastic wrap directly onto the pudding surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
- 1 (9 by 9 1/2 inch) sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 1 1 /2 cups vanilla pudding
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
- confectioners' sugar for dusting
Brush the rectangles with the beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with the granulated sugar. Bake until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Let the pastry rectangles cool for 15 minutes, then split them in half lengthwise using a serrated knife.
Whip the cream with an electric mixer set on low until frothy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and continue to whip until smooth, thick, and doubled in volume, 1 to 3 minutes. Add the pudding and vanilla to the whipped cream and whip until stiff, about 1 minute. Spread 1/4 cup of the pudding mixture over the bottom of each pastry square, then top with 1/2 cup berries. Spoon another 1/4 cup of the pudding mixture over the berries.
Gently press the pastry tops onto the pudding mixture, then dust lightly with powdered sugar. Dollop the remaining pudding mixture attractively on top of each pastry before serving.
Yield: 6 servings
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (not counting pudding chilling time)
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 2 hours