I am shamelessly playing off the fact that berries are in season right now (EAT ALL THE BERRIES) and that it’s very easy to make red, white, and blue combinations out of them. Very delicious combinations.
First, let me clarify that this is not a traditional napoleon. A napoleon is usually made of flaky layers of pastry and custard, served in little cold rectangles. This dessert uses the same idea of layering, but substitutes sweetened whipped cream for the custard and adds seasonal fruit, because dessert is always better with seasonal fruit. The whole “farm-to-table” thing can get overplayed, but there really is a huge difference between strawberries the rest of the year and strawberries that are so fragrant, you find them with your nose from halfway across the grocery section. (No? Just me?)
This is a multi-part dessert which does require a little bit of time. Roughly, there’s three prep parts: Bake puff pastry. Make whipped cream. Macerate berries (macerating = marinating, but for fruit). After that, it’s just a matter of assembly, and here, you can be as finicky as you like—or not. I was pretty finicky, to get these photos, but they taste just as good if you sort of haphazardly blop the cream on and add more berries than should reasonably stick.
Berry Napoleon Notes
Regarding prep, there is some “Do as I say, not as I do” regarding the puff pastry photos. I pricked one of these but not the other as an experiment, and they both inflated ridiculously. I recommend that you learn from this and check on your pastry while it bakes, poking with a fork as necessary.
Additionally, please be aware that this is a VERY SWEET whipped cream (for regular, all-purpose whipped cream, I would use a third this much sugar). Because the pastry isn’t sweet, this version of whipped cream adds a lot of the flavor, while still leaving the dessert relatively light.
I imagine bringing out a plate of these at your backyard barbecue after everyone has had time to digest the potato salad/chips/burgers, a perfect counterpoint to all of that heaviness. It seems right that these elevated berry vessels (let’s be honest about what they really are) should be eaten on a porch.
Robby recommends: Chateau de Fesles Bonnezeaux. This is an indulgently sweet dessert wine, gold and beautiful with a taste like late afternoon sunshine. It is a little more expensive than some of the other wines we’ve recommended, worth saving for a special occasion.
If your budget is a little tighter, or you want something a little less rich but still sweet, try Depreville Demi-Sec Ice. This is a fun, sweet sparkling wine that is designed to be served over ice – perfect for a hot summer day.
Recipe adapted from My Latina Table.
A beautiful dessert that makes the most of seasonal berries and looks as impressive as it tastes! Experiment with any combination of fresh fruit that you so desire.
3 cups combined strawberries and blueberries (or 1 1/2 cup of each)
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 package puff pastry
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
Additional powdered sugar and mint leaves, for garnish
Slice strawberries and halve blueberries. Stir together with white sugar and cover. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (or as long as it takes to prep everything else).
Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions. Prick all over with a fork and bake. Check them while they’re cooking and prick more as necessary. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Combine heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form (google this if you don’t know what to look for). Chill until you’re ready to use it.
Cut each piece of puff pastry into 9. Group pieces into sets of 3. If you have some that tilt alarmingly, choose pieces that tilt the other way to match them.
Set down a base piece of pastry. Use a pastry bag (or a ziplock with the tip cut off) to pipe a nice heavy layer of whipped cream. Spoon on an even layer of berries. Use a little more cream to stick on the next piece of pastry. Repeat.
Add the top piece. Use a small sieve to shake an even layer of powdered sugar on top, giving everyone the impression that you are a master pastry chef. Garnish with a couple of berries and tiny mint leaves.
Present to your audience. Accept adulation.