These Classic French Napoleons feature layers of flaky dough filled with silky vanilla pastry cream. It’s a stunning (and surprisingly easy) dessert!
By now, I think you guys know that I love sports. I’m not some crazy guy that watches sports like 18 hours a day, but I do enjoy catching a good football or basketball game on the weekends. However, come summer, the sports lineup just isn’t very entertaining (I’m not a huge baseball fan). Every few years, we get lucky enough to have the Olympics or the World Cup…but in general, summer is definitely the low point in the sports year. That is, until the Tour de France.
I don’t know what it is, but I am totally enamored with professional cycling…and particularly Le Tour. (I suspect the Tour de France is a favorite among cycling races because it’s a classic, but also because it’s the easiest to find on tv here in the States.) There’s something completely fascinating with watching these guys cycle around an entire country. An added bonus of watching the Tour is all of the incredible French countryside scenery. It makes me want to pack it all up and move over there!
Speaking of French countryside, my and wife I almost moved there after grad school. Seriously. She was looking at a job which would have required us to live in a small town in France for 2 years (near the company’s headquarters.) At first, the idea scared me…but then I said, “what the heck…let’s do it!” It turns out that upstate New York was a better fit professionally, but I often wonder what it would have been like had we moved over to rural France for a couple of years.
While I’ve not yet had the chance to visit France, I’m still obsessed with their breads and pastries. I mean, French baking has set the standard for decades…and I secretly want to be a pastry chef in France. (Instead, I just have to live vicariously through my friend Lindsey…who will indeed one day be a pastry chef in France.) If I ever do visit France, I’m pretty sure I will spend entire days eating bread and pastries. One of my favorites is the Classic French Napoleon. Interestingly enough, a Napoleon is not called a Napoleon in France. Nope, that’s an Americanized term. Thanks to its’ many layers of puff pastry, the Napoleon is called a mille-feuille (or “thousand leaves”) over in France.
So here’s the thing about these Classic French Napoleons. I cheated. I didn’t make my own puff pastry. I’ve done it one time, and it was awesome…but it took way too long. I used frozen puff pastry, and I’m ok with my little dessert hack. (I have, however, seen a quick version of puff pastry floating around, and I want to give that a shot sometime.) Filled with silky vanilla pastry cream between layers of flaky dough, this Classic French Napoleon is an impressive (yet surprisingly easy) dessert. I’ve seen versions of this dessert with boxed vanilla pudding as the filling. I guess that could work, but that’s a bit too much of a dessert hack for me. Pastry cream isn’t all that difficult to make, and it’s a great skill to add to your repertoire.
What’s your favorite French dessert? What about cycling? Have you ever watched a stage of the Tour de France?