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.