I was the grateful recipient of a couple of pints of fresh Jersey cream from a friend’s farm the other day, along with a few free-range eggs.
Jersey cream is probably the best cream on the planet and faced with rather a lot, I had to come up with something to make with it, so after finding a stash of frozen puff pastry in the freezer I felt inspired to create a Cream Slice/Napoleon/Mille-feuille. Three names for the same thing; a classic French confection that looks and sounds complicated but is in fact incredibly easy to make. You can prepare this in three stages ahead of time which makes it even better and if you don’t have access to Jersey cream, just use full cream milk and regular whipping cream.
I can’t promise it would win a Great British Bake-Off contest for its appearance because it turned out to be rather scruffy looking. However, yours might not and the utter luscious decadence of it will win over anyone with a sweet tooth.
So here you are – a very easy and impressive dessert that required virtually no cooking skills whatsoever!
Feel free to be more traditional by replacing the chocolate ganache layer with sweetened whipped heavy cream and maybe put some fresh raspberries in there as well.
VANILLA CUSTARD & CHOCOLATE GANACHE MILLE-FEUILLE
2/3 of a puff pastry sheet (about 6.5 oz / 200g)
Milk and sugar for a glaze
For the pastry cream filling:
2 cups (500ml) of full cream milk – I used Jersey cream
A vanilla bean
2/3 cup (150ml) of sugar
1/3 cup (75ml) of all-purpose/plain flour
2 large eggs
For the chocolate ganache filling:
3.5oz (100g) of dark chocolate chips
2fl oz (65ml) of full fat milk
¼ pint (150ml) of heavy cream
For the glaze topping:
1 cup of powdered sugar
3 teaspoons of water
Edible flowers, shaved chocolate, or whatever you fancy for decoration
Make the pastry cream first because you want it to cool completely. Start by whisking together the eggs, sugar and flour in a saucepan until it’s light and fluffy.
Split the vanilla bean and carefully scrape the seeds into the milk in a separate pan. Gently heat until simmering then pour a little milk into the egg-sugar-flour mixture whisking all the time, then gradually add the rest, whisking all the time. Put the pan on the heat and continue to whisk as it thickens and the second it boils, take it off the heat and transfer the thick custard to a bowl. Immediately cover the surface of the custard with cling film and cool, then stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the dessert.
For the pastry layers, preheat the oven to 400F (200C). In the US, puff pastry conveniently comes in sheets that are folded into three. The good news is you just need to cut along two of the folds and keep the remaining piece for something else. You now have two rectangles of puff pastry. Put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush them with milk and a sprinkle of sugar. Bake for 14-15 minutes until puffed and golden. Cool them on a rack.
While the pastry is cooling, make the chocolate ganache filling. Put the chocolate chips and milk in a microwaveable bowl and nuke for about 20-30 seconds. Stir it well and repeat if necessary, until the chocolate has completely melted. You’ll have a lovely thick chocolate sauce. Set this aside to cool then whip the cream into soft peaks and fold it into the chocolate.
To assemble the Millefeuille, split both the cooled puff pastry rectangles lengthwise through the middle. Use a flat bottom half cut side up as the base and spread half of the cooled vanilla custard over. Now gently press the top half of the pastry upside down onto the custard so that the cut side is uppermost. Spread the cooled chocolate ganache over that.
Now using the second top half, repeat with the cut side uppermost and spread the remaining vanilla custard over that. Finally, place the remaining half, cut side down on top of the custard layer. The top should be flat as it was originally the bottom side of the pastry.
To glaze the pastry, quickly mix the powdered sugar with three teaspoons of water and spread the icing over the top of the cake with a palette knife. Decorate immediately with shaved chocolate or something else. I used dried edible rose petals because that’s what I had, they looked so pretty and I just love their fragrance.