Sunday, December 5, 2010

Napoleons and my Waterloo

M. and I spent today making napoleons. You know, the puff pastry sheets filled with pudding and then glazed and drizzled with chocolate? Yup, we decided to try making the HARDEST thing in the whole cookbook.

We discovered why Julia had a glass of wine near her while baking. 

To explain this as simply as I understand it, we made a dough, rolled it out a billion times, plopped a large pile of butter (with a little bit of flour mixed in to keep it somewhat less "smeary") in the center, wrapped it up like a newborn baby, and rolled it another billion times.  Then we did it all over again.

And, oh yeah, in between rollings it needs to be refrigerated 45 minutes to an hour. 
It looks so easy to roll this lovely little package, doesn't it? 


It's not.

The blasted butter kept popping out the ends. Somewhere, M. read to add a bit of flour to cover the blow out so you could keep on rollin'.

Holy butter explosion, Batman, this doesn't look like pastry dough. It looks like Pillsbury crescent dough that's been microwaved into soup. Sorry, no pictures of this stage. My hands were covered in flour and butter. Not a good time to grab the camera and attempt to compose a shot. I could see that camera landing in the center of the butter mound.
We had to make homemade pudding, also known as a cream filling in pastry land, which required lots of stirring. This yummy stuff is layered between the sheets of puff pastry.
The eggs are what gives the pudding the creamy yellow color. Recognize that bottle of vanilla on the counter? That's a bottle from the batch of homemade vanilla I made for my very first tutorial. 

Don't you just love the yellow of the egg against the blue of M.'s counter? 
This was the VERY. SCARY. PART.

We kept reading the recipe, looking at the (non)puff pastry, reading the recipe again, and wondering how we were going to cut the pastry in half thus separating the layers. Huh.

I totally chickened out and said I was going to cut my piece in three sections and layer those sections. Never mind that cutting and separating the layers stuff. Nope, I'm not doing it.

So I cut mine in three sections.

M. took one look at it and said, "I'm separating it."

And she did.

What we didn't know, and didn't see until I cut the three sections, was that the center was somewhat undercooked and softer. Wow. That made all the difference in the world. It was like a hot knife cutting through butter. Haha. I make myself laugh with this stuff.

But, truly, it cut so easily and the layers separated just so.
We spread the pudding on the layers, not being too careful about spillage and seepage. 

In other words, it oozed over the sides. Oh well, we're not Julia. Maybe we should have a glass of wine next time we attempt this.
It was a super fun day. We laughed, we ate delicious salad for lunch, we listened to Christmas music, laughed some more and had a perfectly wonderful time.
M.'s fancy-schmancy chocolate drizzling.
I tried dragging the tines of the fork through the chocolate. Looks like a hacksaw went through it.
M.'s hubby, M. (also known as "The Hammer"), grinning at our attempts. He's now "The Hammer" because we got the mixing bowl stuck a couple times while mixing the dough.

M. couldn't get the bowl out. I couldn't get the bowl out.

So we called for M.'s hubby. He came in and got the bowl out. We must have loosened it for him.

The second time he came in, he brought a rubber mallet with him. Thus, "The Hammer" was born.
Saw this very pretty pomander over on this blog. I know M. loves shabby chic, romantic things and it was calling her name. 

Luckily I had plenty of felt on hand. And some styrofoam balls. And some pretty pins.

M. got an early Christmas present.


  1. I've never made Napoleons, but I did make Danish once - it's easier if you do the roll-it-out, fold-it-over, chill, etc., on one day, and actual making of it the next.
    I worked on it for two days, took it to work, and in a very short time it was all gone. I haven't been tempted to do it again.

  2. Wow...looks like a LOT of work. BUT, a lot of fun to do with a friend. At least you can laugh over the frustrating parts if you are with someone :)
    They looked delicious tho!!!

  3. Outside of gingerbread houses, which aren't difficult to make, this was the most time consuming recipe I've ever done. Tasted great, but it was gone so FAST!