Tag Archives: napoleon

Strawberry Phyllo Stacks

Strawberry Napoleon  stack

I’ve been on a strawberry bender. They are impossible to ignore. Strawberries are in season now in California, and it’s too easy to simply gobble up a pint or two (or four) from the farmers market with each visit. Like all fruit and vegetables that reign supreme during their seasonal heyday, strawberries are the life of the party while they last. But even a good thing can become redundant, and that’s when our duty as a cook takes over. It is up to us, like gracious hosts, to showcase our seasonal gifts in fresh and flattering ways, so that we never (God forbid) grow tired of them.

This recipe brings a little phyllo dough to the mix, literally elevating the strawberry in a dramatically stacked presentation between layers of sugary phyllo and mascarpone cream. While they take some prep time, the phyllo sheets can be made in advance. The outcome is a light and luscious dessert, elegant yet simple, showcasing the lovely and ever-appealing strawberry.

Strawberry Phyllo Stacks (Napoleons)
Makes about 12

Phyllo:
1 package frozen phyllo sheets, defrosted overnight in refrigerator
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Cream filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound strawberries, hulled, sliced 1/4-inch thick, plus 6 large strawberries, stems intact, halved lengthwise.
Sifted confectioners sugar for dusting

Prepare the phyllo squares:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Unroll the phyllo dough and place one sheet on a work surface. Cover the remaining dough with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel to prevent drying.
3. Lightly brush the phyllo sheet with the melted butter. Sprinkle a light layer of sugar over the butter. Place a second phyllo sheet over the dough. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat with 2 more sheets.
4. With a sharp chef’s knife cut the stacked phyllo sheets into 12 squares (4 across the sheets’ long side x 3 across the short side). With a spatula, transfer the squares to the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the oven until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on racks.
5. Repeat this process until you have used all of the phyllo dough – you will have about 36 squares. (The phyllo squares may be prepared up to one day in advance. Place in an airtight container and separate each layer with parchment paper. Store at room temperature.)

Prepare the napoleons:
1. Beat the filling ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire attachment until stiff peaks form.
2. Arrange one phyllo square on a work surface. Spread one tablespoon of the filling over the square. Arrange 2 to 3 strawberry slices on the cream. Smear a little cream over the strawberries, then place another phyllo square on top and gently press to adhere Repeat the layering process one more time and finish with a phyllo square. Place a small dollop of cream in the center of the phyllo and top with a strawberry half, cut-side down. Transfer to a plate.  Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
3. Dust with the napoleons with confectioners sugar and serve immediately.

Caramelized Pineapple and Mango Napoleons


Reprinted from the TasteFood archives, because it’s on the menu this week. 

Expecting guests for dinner this weekend? In the mood for something fruity and stacked? Napoleons are fun to make and impressive to serve. They are also an elegant way to showcase the season’s fresh fruit. Don’t let the presentation intimidate you. With some planning Napoleons are also easy to prepare, since the components may be prepared in advance. All that’s required is some last minute assembly, which is fun to watch or, better yet, get your guests involved.

Caramelized Pineapple and Mango Napoleons
Makes 10

For the phyllo layers:
1 package frozen phyllo sheets, defrosted overnight in refrigerator
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the filling:
2 mangoes, skin and pit removed, cut in 1/4″ dice
Juice of one lime, about 2 tablespoons
1 fresh pineapple, ends trimmed, rind removed, cut in quarters lengthwise and cored
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Shredded coconut
Runny honey for garnish

Prepare the phyllo dough:
Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unroll phyllo dough. Place one sheet on work surface. (Cover remaining dough with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel to prevent drying.)
Lightly brush phyllo sheet with butter. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Place second phyllo sheet on buttered phyllo dough. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat with 2 more sheets.
With a sharp chef’s knife cut stacked phyllo sheets in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 5 equal width rectangles. (5 across the sheets’ long side x 2 across the short side). With a spatula, transfer the squares to prepared baking sheets. Bake in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks.
Repeat this process 2 more times, so you will have a total of 30 rectangles. (Phyllo squares may be prepared one day in advance. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Separate layers of phyllo dough with parchment paper.)

Prepare the filling:
Toss the diced mango with the lime juice in a bowl and set aside.
Cut each pineapple quarter in slices 1/4″ thick. Arrange slices in one layer in 2 skillets. Sprinkle brown sugar over pineapple. Cook over medium heat, turning pineapple, until caramelized. Transfer pineapple to a plate to cool completely.
Beat cream in bowl of electric mixer until traces from the whisk are visible in the cream. Add confectioners sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Assemble the napoleons:
Arrange 12 phyllo sheets on individual dessert plates or platter. Spread each sheet with one tablespoon whipped cream. Gently press diced mango into whipped cream in one layer. Top with a little more whipped cream (this will help the phyllo layers to stay put) and sprinkle with coconut. Top cream and mango with a second phyllo layer and repeat process with mango, whipped cream and coconut. Top with a third phyllo sheet. Spoon cream over the top. Gently lay 1-2 pineapple slices on the cream. Drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with coconut. Serve immediately.

Caramelized Pineapple and Mango Napoleons

Mango tf
Expecting guests for dinner this weekend? In the mood for something fruity and stacked? Napoleons are fun to make and impressive to serve. They are also an elegant way to showcase the season’s fresh fruit. Don’t let the presentation intimidate you. With some planning Napoleons are also easy to prepare, since the components may be prepared in advance. All that’s required is some last minute assembly, which is fun to watch or, better yet, get your guests involved.

Caramelized Pineapple and Mango Napoleons
Makes 10

For the phyllo layers:
1 package frozen phyllo sheets, defrosted overnight in refrigerator
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the filling:
2 mangoes, skin and pit removed, cut in 1/4″ dice
Juice of one lime, about 2 tablespoons
1 fresh pineapple, ends trimmed, rind removed, cut in quarters lengthwise and cored
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Shredded coconut
Runny honey for garnish

Prepare the phyllo dough:
Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unroll phyllo dough. Place one sheet on work surface. (Cover remaining dough with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel to prevent drying.)
Lightly brush phyllo sheet with butter. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Place second phyllo sheet on buttered phyllo dough. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat with 2 more sheets.
With a sharp chef’s knife cut stacked phyllo sheets in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 5 equal width rectangles. (5 across the sheets’ long side x 2 across the short side). With a spatula, transfer the squares to prepared baking sheets. Bake in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks.
Repeat this process 2 more times, so you will have a total of 30 rectangles. (Phyllo squares may be prepared one day in advance. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Separate layers of phyllo dough with parchment paper.)

Prepare the filling:
Toss the diced mango with the lime juice in a bowl and set aside.
Cut each pineapple quarter in slices 1/4″ thick. Arrange slices in one layer in 2 skillets. Sprinkle brown sugar over pineapple. Cook over medium heat, turning pineapple, until caramelized. Transfer pineapple to a plate to cool completely.
Beat cream in bowl of electric mixer until traces from the whisk are visible in the cream. Add confectioners sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Assemble the napoleons:
Arrange 12 phyllo sheets on individual dessert plates or platter. Spread each sheet with one tablespoon whipped cream. Gently press diced mango into whipped cream in one layer. Top with a little more whipped cream (this will help the phyllo layers to stay put) and sprinkle with coconut. Top cream and mango with a second phyllo layer and repeat process with mango, whipped cream and coconut. Top with a third phyllo sheet. Spoon cream over the top. Gently lay 1-2 pineapple slices on the cream. Drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with coconut. Serve immediately.

In Season: Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon tf

The thing about seasonal food, is you have to eat it while you can – again and again. Those sweet, succulent strawberries? In a month or two, they will be gone. Their star will have waned, and the fresher, more petite raspberries or yellow nectarines will take center stage. Those clean, crisp asparagus spears? They will be bumped aside by a Provençal-style invasion of summer vegetables whose sauces and salads will pointedly exclude the upright astringent asparagus. The obscure, frizzy coils of fiddleheads that we’re finally managing to get to know? Never mind, it’s time to tackle another dark horse of a vegetable, and let the idea of an edible fern fade to a fuzzy dream.

All fruits and vegetables reign supreme at the markets during their seasonal heyday, and while they last, they are the life of the party. We should gorge on them while we can, but too much of a good thing can become tiresome – especially after the tenth consecutive serving. This is where our duty as chefs comes in. It is up to us, like gracious hosts, to showcase our seasonal gifts, highlighting their qualities in appealing and flattering ways, so that they always look and taste great.

So, with yet another recipe including strawberries, I introduce a little phyllo dough to shake things up a bit. Unlike a parfait or a trifle, the phyllo adds a crispy texture and linear orderliness in a dramatic stacked presentation. The outcome is a light and luscious dessert, elegant yet simple, and mighty pretty to look at, too.

(But, let’s be honest. Is it really possible to tire of fresh strawberries?)

Strawberry Napoleons
Serves 10-12

1 package frozen phyllo sheets, defrosted overnight in refrigerator
1/4 cup (60 g.) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (115 g.) granulated/caster sugar
8 ounces (250 g.) mascarpone cheese
1 cup (250 ml.) heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound (500 g.) strawberries, hulled, sliced lengthwise no more than 1/4″ thick, plus 6 large strawberries, stems intact, halved lengthwise.

Additional confectioners sugar for dusting

Prepare Phyllo Squares:
Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Line 2 rectangular baking sheets with parchment paper. Unroll phyllo dough. Place one sheet on work surface. (Cover remaining dough with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel to prevent drying.)
Lightly brush phyllo sheet with butter. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Place second phyllo sheet on buttered phyllo dough. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat with 2 more sheets.
With a sharp chef’s knife cut stacked phyllo sheets into 12 squares (4 across the sheets’ long side x 3 across the short side). With a spatula, transfer the squares to prepared baking sheets. Bake in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks.
Repeat this process 2 more times, so you will have a total of 36 squares. If you are serving 10 there will be a few extra squares which can be used as back up if there is breakage.
(Phyllo squares may be prepared one day in advance. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Separate layers of phyllo dough with parchement paper.)

Prepare filling:
Beat mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, confectioners sugar and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer until stiff peaks form. (Cream may be prepared up to 6 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use.)

Assemble Napoleons:
Arrange one phyllo square on plate or platter. Spread one tablespoon cream over. Arrange 2-3 strawberry slices in one layer over cream. Top strawberries with 1-2 teaspoons cream. Place another phyllo square on top, pressing gently. Spread one tablespoon cream over. Arrange 2-3 strawberry slices in one layer over cream. Top strawberries with 1-2 teaspoons cream. Place third phyllo square on top, pressing gently. Place one teaspoon cream in center of phyllo square. Place one strawberry half, cut-side down, on cream. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Showcasing Strawberries: Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon 1

The thing about seasonal food, is you have to eat it while you can.  Again and again.  Those sweet, succulent strawberries?  In a month or two, they will be gone; their star will have waned, and the fresher, more juicy, more yellow nectarines or petite raspberries will take center stage.  Those clean, crisp asparagus spears?  They will be bumped aside by a Provençal-style invasion of summer vegetables whose sauces and salads will pointedly exclude the upright astringent asparagus.  The obscure, frizzy coils of fiddleheads that we’re finally managing to get to know?  Never mind; it’s time to tackle another dark horse of a vegetable, and let the idea of an edible fern fade to a fuzzy dream.

All fruits and vegetables reign supreme at the markets during their seasonal heyday, and while they last, they are the life of the party.  But too much of a good thing can become tiresome – especially after the tenth consecutive serving. This is where our duty as chefs comes in.  It is up to us, like gracious hosts, to showcase our seasonal gifts, highlighting their qualities in appealing and flattering ways, so that they always look and taste good.

This is my somewhat metaphorical attempt to explain yet another recipe featuring strawberries.  In fact, not only does this recipe feature strawberries, it also calls for many similar ingredients in my post Strawberry and Mascarpone Cream Parfaits.  The difference is the addition of phyllo dough, and a little dramatic elevation in the stacked presentation.  The outcome is another entirely different dessert, elegant yet simple, delicious to eat and very pretty to look at.

Strawberry Napoleons
Serves 10-12

1 package frozen phyllo sheets, defrosted overnight in refrigerator
1/4 cup (60 g.) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (115 g.) granulated/caster sugar

8 oz. (250 g.) mascarpone cheese
1 cup (250 ml.) heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 lb. (500 g.) strawberries, hulled, sliced lengthwise no more than 1/4″ thick, plus 6 large strawberries, stems intact, halved lengthwise.

Additional confectioners sugar for dusting

Prepare Phyllo Squares:
Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)  Line 2 rectangular baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unroll phyllo dough.  Place one sheet on work surface. (Cover remaining dough with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel to prevent drying.)
Lightly brush phyllo sheet with butter.  Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.  Place second phyllo sheet on buttered phyllo dough.  Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Repeat with 2 more sheets.
With a sharp chef’s knife cut stacked phyllo sheets into 12 squares (4 across the sheets’ long side x 3 across the short side).  With a spatula, transfer the squares to prepared baking sheets.  Bake in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks.
Repeat this process 2 more times, so you will have a total of 36 squares. If you are serving 10 there will be a few extra squares which can be used as back up if there is breakage.
(Phyllo squares can be prepared one day in advance.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Separate layers of phyllo dough with parchement paper.)

Prepare filling:
Beat mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, confectioners sugar and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  (Cream can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance.  Cover and refrigerate until use.)

Assemble Napoleons:
Arrange one phyllo square on plate or platter.  Spread one tablespoon cream over.  Arrange 2-3 strawberry slices in one layer over cream.  Top strawberries with 1-2 teaspoons cream.  Place another phyllo square on top, pressing gently.  Spread one tablespoon cream over.  Arrange 2-3 strawberry slices in one layer over cream.  Top strawberries with 1-2 teaspoons cream.  Place third phyllo square on top, pressing gently.  Place one teaspoon cream in center of phyllo square.  Place one strawberry half, cut-side down, on cream.  Dust lightly with confectioners sugar and serve.