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A thousand layers of buttery goodness, that’s what this mille-feuille café is, and it’s also quite literally what mille-feuille means in French.
Mille-feuille, or a thousand leaves in French, refers to the pastry dough that the dessert is made with, which is called pâte feuilletée. Pâte feuilletée is the equivalent of puff pastry, producing numerous golden, flaky layers that are as crisp and airy as they are buttery and indulgent.
Classic mille-feuille can be made with any number of fillings, including pastry cream and jam. For this mille-feuille café, I’ve flavored the pastry cream with a bit of instant espresso powder, in addition to adding a splash of brewed coffee to the glaze.
While I don’t recommend making homemade mille-feuille café as a takeaway dessert to bring to a family or friend’s party (as it can be a bit messy to travel with), it’s a lovely dessert to make when you’re entertaining at home.
You can easily make this mille-feuille café with store-bought puff pastry, saving yourself the time and effort of making your own dough.
Instead, you can use the time to make your own pastry cream, which is much easier than you would ever think. Pastry cream requires attention more than skill, as it can quickly go from a thick pudding to scrambled eggs while cooking over the stove.
I love enjoying this mille-feuille café after it’s set up in the fridge for a couple of hours. All the flavors have a chance to develop and meld together.
The pastry cream also becomes a more stable filling after it’s gotten a chance to chill in between the puff pastry layers, making it easier to eat. The espresso flavor is distinct, but only enhances the taste of this pastry, much like vanilla or any other favorite baking ingredient would.
For a coffee-aholic like myself, this dessert is a total dream!
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour10 minutes
Coffee-flavored napoleon pastry made with layers of puff pastry and pastry cream.
for the dough
1 sheet puff pastry
granulated sugar to sprinkle on dough
for the filling
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
for the glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
splash of brewed coffee
1 oz dark chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll the puff pastry out to 11” by 12.” Sprinkle granulated sugar over all of the dough, then use your rolling pin to slightly roll the sugar into the dough.
Divide the dough into 3 even rectangles (4” wide each). Place these rectangles on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, then transfer to the freezer to chill for 20 minutes.
Remove one of the dough rectangles so that they’re only 2 puff pastry rectangles on the baking sheet. Place a wire cooling rack onto the baking sheet, letting the cooling rack rest over the puff pastry; this will help ensure the puff pastry rise to equal heights as they bake.
Bake the puff pastry for 22 to 25 minutes, until golden in color. Repeat this step with the remaining puff pastry rectangle. Cool all puff pastry rectangles on a cooling rack until completely cool.
Create the pastry filling by whisking the sugar and egg yolks together in a large bowl until pale yellow. Add the cornstarch and flour in and whisk to combine.
Warm the milk over the stove on medium-low heat until there’s steam rising from the milk and it’s just begun to simmer but not boil. Add the instant espresso powder, whisking it in. Pour about 1/4 cup of this warm milk into the egg mixture, whisking the mixture vigorously as you do. Continue to gradually add the warm milk in batches, whisking to combine as you do.
Transfer the entire mixture back into the saucepan and use a whisk to stir the mixture over medium heat, until a thick pudding-like cream forms; about 5 to 8 minutes. Make sure to watch the mixture the entire time, stirring consistently to prevent clumps. Pour this pastry cream into a bowl. Cover the cream with a sheet of plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly onto the pudding to prevent a filmy layer from forming. Refrigerate until chilled - about 2 hours.
To make the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar with a small splash of brewed coffee (about a couple teaspoons max) until you get a thick, lava-like consistency. Add more powdered sugar as needed if you’ve added too much coffee.
To assemble, spoon the pastry cream onto one of the puff pastry layers, leaving a small border around the edges bare. Top with another layer of puff pastry and some more of the pastry cream. Place the final puff pastry layer on top, making sure to place the layer upside down so that the completely flat side of the puff pastry is facing up.
Spread the glaze all over the top with an offset spatula. Fill a pastry bag with a small tip (or a ziplock bag with a very tiny cut in one of the bottom corners) with the melted chocolate. Squeeze the chocolate out into straight lines, spaced out from each other, along the length of the pastry. Then grab a toothpick or skewer and drag the stick along the width of the pastry (spaced out from each other), through the glaze and chocolate. Then repeat this going the opposite way in the spaces in-between.
Chill the pastry for at least 20 minutes so that the filling and glaze have a chance to set.
You will have leftover pastry cream, so place it in an airtight container and keep refrigerated.
Yield: 6Serving Size: 6 Servings Amount Per Serving:Calories: 254
I know some of you are making New Years resolutions to avoid all carbs and/or sugar, but consider this recipe for one of your cheat days. This tarte au sucre is a wonderfully simple and classic afternoon treat many French children grow up eating after a day of school. Like a tarte tropezienne, which is a brioche cake with a custard filling, this tarte au sucre derives much of its sweetness from one particular component in the dish. In a tarte tropezienne, that is the custard filling. In a tarte au sucre, that happens to be the caramelized sugar topping. Unlike an American cake, this tart’s “cake” layer is really just a yeast dough with minimal sweetness. That’s why this tarte can be enjoyed as a sweet snack after school (or mid-workday) rather than a decadent dessert that would usually be enjoyed after a meal.
When they say context is everything, it’s really true. The word chaussons means slippers in French, but it’s also the name given to puff pastry turnovers. Strange, right? That’s why you’ll usually hear the dessert version of the word followed by whatever fruit it’s been made with. Usually, that’s chaussons aux pommes (apple turnovers), or in this case aux fraises (strawberries). With the abundance of farm-fresh, aromatic, sweet strawberries, I can think of nothing better than using them in delectable puff pastry turnovers like this.
It may seem like the title of this post is a bit redundant considering beignets are French by origin, but I felt the need to clarify because of the variety of beignets that now exist throughout the world. Particularly, I felt the need to distinguish these beignets from the ones you’d find in New Orleans or many American bakeries. When I first when to Paris, I spotted beignets on a street vendor cart, not knowing they were beignets. They were round rather than square, like the beignets we often eat here in the States. When I actually bit into one, I found them much more cake-like than the beignets I was accustomed to. The beignets I’ve eaten in the States have often been somewhat hollow-like, much lighter and crisper than the French beignets I ate abroad. Since enjoying the soft, pillowy rounds that I enjoyed in Paris, I haven’t been able to eat any other kind of beignet; French beignets are simply divine.