Mille-feuille (also known as Napoleon) is a classic French pastry which is popular in Morocco. It's made by alternating layers of pastry with custard cream, and then decorating it with icing. Mille-feuille isn't difficult to make at home, particularly if you use frozen puff pastry dough but you will need to allow ample time. The step-by-step photo tutorial How to Make Mille-feuille will clarify the directions below.
Mille-feuille may be made a day or two in advance. Have parchment paper on hand for baking the pastry layers. Allow additional prep time if making your puff pastry dough from scratch.
Please Note: A recipe reviewer accidentally used phyllo dough in place of the puff pastry dough, and had very poor results as a consequence. The recipe is correct as written, but you must use puff pastry dough.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
- --- For the Pastry and Filling ---
- 1 1/2 lbs. frozen puff pastry (or 1/2 batch homemade pate feuilletee)
- 1 batch of pastry cream (creme patissiere)
- --- For the Royal Icing and Decoration ---
- 2 egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 cups (350 g) powdered sugar (approx.)
- 3 oz. (80 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted
Ahead of Time
Make the Pastry Cream. Once it has cooled to room temperature, chill it in the fridge until needed.
Bake the pastry layers. Preheat your oven to 400° F (200° C). Roll out the puff pastry dough into an elongated rectangle the thickness of a thin piece of cardboard. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into three equally-sized pieces.
Transfer the dough to a baking pan (or pans) lined with parchment paper and pierce the dough all over with a fork. Cover the dough with another sheet of parchment paper and place a baking pan or pie weights on top to weigh down the dough as it bakes.
Bake the dough, in batches if necessary, about 25 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. The weights and top layer of parchment paper pan may be removed the last five or so minutes of baking to help color the dough if necessary.
Transfer the dough to racks to cool completely.
Assemble and Decorate the Mille-Feuille
It's best to work on a flat surface for easy transfer of the finished pastry to a serving dish. Have everything at hand – the baked puff pastry layers, the pastry cream, and the ingredients for frosting and decorating. Don't worry if your baked pastry layers look unevenly sized; after assembly you'll be trimming the edges for a uniform look.
Start by distributing half of the pastry cream over one layer of baked puff pastry. Top with another layer of dough, pressing gently to adhere it to the pastry cream below. Spread the remaining pastry cream over the second layer of pastry. Top with the third layer of pastry and again press down gently.
Melt the chocolate and have it ready in a pastry bag or decorating tube fitted with a fine round tip, or use a small plastic bag which has a corner pierced or snipped to make a tiny opening.
Make the royal icing by beating the egg whites and lemon juice just until foamy. (I use a hand held electric mixer for this.) Add most of the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until very smooth and glossy. Add more powdered sugar if necessary to achieve a consistency such that icing drizzled back into the bowl from the beaters will sit briefly on the surface of the icing before sinking back in.
Immediately pour the royal icing over the top layer of pastry and spread it evenly. Don't worry if some of the icing drips over the edges.
Next, working quickly, drizzle the chocolate across the surface of the icing in evenly-spaced, parallel lines. Again, don't worry if some of the chocolate drips over the edges, and don't worry if your lines look sloppy. The next step will improve their appearance.
With the tip of a thin, sharp knife, make evenly-spaced perpendicular "cuts" through the lines of chocolate, from one side of the pastry to the other. Start by making one cut in one direction, and the next cut in the opposite direction. Continue alternating directions as you work across the surface of the pastry. This creates the classic decorative pattern shown in the photo.
Now you'll want to trim the edges of the mille-feuille to give it a cleaner, professional look. With a long, sharp knife, cut 1/4" off the edges of the pastry all around to make a neat, evenly proportioned rectangle. (Don't discard the scraps – save them to eat as well!)
Carefully transfer the trimmed mille-feuille to a serving dish and refrigerate. Allow an hour or two to chill before serving. A long, non-serrated knife will make the cleanest cut through the icing.