Monday, October 29, 2012

DB: Mille-Feuille

Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!
Puff pastry is one of my all-time-favorite pastries.  The light, fluffy, flakiness is amazing and there's simply nothing like it.  Since I enjoy this pastry so much, this challenge was right up my alley.  It seems only fitting that I should make this at home since I enjoy it so much.  Puff pastry is delicious on it's own, but it can be filled with a variety of fillings, sweet or savory, and that enhances the flavor that much more. 

In this challenge we not only made puff pastry, we also filled it with delicious pastry cream and topped it frosting and chocolate.  I mean, it doesn't get any better than this!  This dessert is amazing; sweet but not overwhelming sweet.  It's the perfect way to end any meal and it doesn't leave you feeling weighed down.

Daring Bakers Mille-Feuille


Puff Pastry-
1 3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
Scant 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp cold water
14 Tbsp butter, room temperature
3 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Pastry Cream-
2 Cups whole milk
1/4 Cup cornstarch
3/4 Cup + 3 Tbsp sugar
4 Large egg yolks
2 Large eggs
1/4 Cup unsalted butter, cubed
2 Tsp vanilla

For the frosting-
2 3/4  Cups confectioner's sugar
2 Tsp lemon juice
2 Large egg whites

For topping-
1/2 Cup dark chocolate


Puff Pastry-
Place 1 3/4 cups of flour in a large bowl and cut in 1/4 cup cubed butter.  Lightly rub the flour and butter between your fingertips until it forms a mealy crumb texture.  Slowly add the cold water, and using a fork work the water into the flour mixture until the ingredients begin to come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl.  As the dough begins to come together, use your hands to knead the dough and to pull in the remaining, unmixed bits.  If the dough seems a bit dry, add more water 1/2 teaspoon at a time.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 3 minutes, until smooth.  Wrap kneaded dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.  Allow dough to chill for at least 30 minutes. 

While the dough is chilling combine 14 tablespoons of butter, room temperature, with 3 1/2 tablespoons flour.  Mix to form a paste.  Place the paste between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, using a rolling pin, roll into a 4 1/2 inch square.  Place paste in the refrigerator and chill 10-15 minutes, until slightly firm but still pliable. 

Once the dough has chilled, turn out onto a floured surface and roll to form a 6 inch square.  Place the paste in the center of the square, with each corner touching the center of the outer edge of the dough.  Fold each corner of the dough over the butter paste, so that all the corners meet in the center.  Using fingers, seal the seams together. 

Keep work surface well floured.  Turn the dough over and roll into a rectangle that is 1/4 of an inch in thickness.  Take the shorter part of the rectangle, and fold 1/3 over to the inside of the rectangle, ensure it's covering the middle portion of the rectangle.  Fold the outer flap of the rectangle to cover the middle of the rectangle, leaving you with a 3-layers pieces of dough.  Repeat process once more, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Remove dough from refrigerator, repeat process twice more, wrap and chill for another 30 minutes.  Repeat process two more times, wrap and refrigerate until needed. (the dough will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator)

Pastry Cream-

Combine the cornstarch and milk in a medium bowl, and stir to combined, until cornstarch is dissolved.  

Place remaining 1 1/2 cups milk in a saucepan, along with the sugar and stir to dissolve.  Once the sugar has dissolved bring the milk to a boil then remove from heat.  

Add the 2 whole eggs to the cornstarch mixture, and whisk to combine.  Add the egg yolks, whisk again.  Stirring constantly, add 1/3 cup of hot liquied to the egg mixture.  Bring the remaining milk back to a boil and add the egg-cornstarch mixture to the boiling milk, stirring constantly.  Continue whisking, and heat mixture until it begins to thicken.  Remove saucepan from heat and vigorously whisk the pastry cream until smooth.  Add the butter and vanilla and whisk until completely incorporated.  

Transfer pastry cream into a large bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, ensuring the the plastic wrap is touching the top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Place in the refrigerator and chill overnight.  

To assemble-

Preheat oven to 400.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Lightly dust workspace with flour, and remove dough from the refrigerator.  Roll into a rectangle that is 12x18.  Cut into 3 equal pieces and place on prepared baking sheet.  Using a fork, poke holes into the pastry sheets, this prevents the pastry from puffing up too much.  Place another piece of parchment paper over the top of the pastry, then place a heavy baking sheet over the top of the puff pastries.  ( If you don't have a heavy baking sheet, simply place a baking sheet over the puff pastry, then place a glass (oven safe) dish on the baking sheet

Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and transfer to wire cooling racks and allow to cool completely.  

Place one layer of cooled puff pastry onto a large, flat platter or baking sheet.  Top with half of the pastry cream.  Place a second sheet of puff pastry on the pastry cream and top with remaining pastry cream, top with the remaining piece of puff pastry, and gently press.  Place in the refrigerator.

While the puff pastry is chilling make the frosting and melt the chocolate.

For the frosting-
Combine egg whites and lemon juice and whisk on high until slightly frothy.  Gradually add the sugar and whisk on medium-low until combined and frosting is smooth.  It should be thick but still drizzle-able.  If it's too thick add a touch of water, if it's too thin add more sugar. 

For the chocolate-
Place in a microwave safe dish and melt, in 30 second increments, stirring between each interval.  Once it's completely melted, carefully transfer to a piping bag and set aside.

Pour the frosting over the top of the chilled pastry.  Working quickly, carefully pipe thin lines of chocolate across the length of the pastry.  Using a knife or wooden pick, drag the tip from the top of the pastry to the bottom, dragging the lines of chocolate.  Return to the refrigerator and allow to chill for 2 hours.  When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator, using a sharp knife cut pieces and serve. 

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