Chocolate Ganache Napoleons

  • Serves: Makes two Napoleons, each three layers high; cut into 20 servings
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  • Comments: 10

Variations: Orange-Cream Napoleons; Strawberry Napoleons; Classic Glazed Napoleons; Pear Napoleons

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A traditional Napoleon is a French dessert made from layers of puff pastry spread with a vanilla pastry cream. The top of the rectangle or triangular shaped sweet is drizzled with chocolate and or dusted with powdered sugar. I decided to put the chocolate inside, as well. Making puff pastry from scratch is not an easy task to undertake. It is a labor and time intensive endeavor. Ready-made is available in the grocery store, and can come frozen or freshly made; either is fine for this recipe. You can also skip making the pastry cream and use instant vanilla pudding, instead - just follow the pie filling instructions.
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For this recipe, you can use refrigerated Puff Pastry Dough or make your own from our Puff Pastry Dough Tutorial.

INGREDIENTS
1 17.3 ounce package Puff Pastry Sheets (2 sheets); can use refrigerated or from our Puff Pastry Dough Tutorial
1 recipe Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
1 recipe Simple Chocolate Ganache

Powdered sugar, sifted

INSTRUCTIONS
Prepare the Puff Pastry: (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with foil; let stand at room temperature.)
1. Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature for 40 minutes or until it's easy to handle. Position an oven shelf in the middle and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 17- x 11- x 1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Roll out 1 pastry sheet on lightly floured surface to 15- x 12-inch rectangle. Cut crosswise into three 12- x 5-inch rectangles. Repeat rolling and cutting with remaining pastry sheet to make six 12- x 5-inch pastry rectangles total. Transfer 2 pastry rectangles to prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly. Cover remaining pastry rectangles with plastic wrap and chill.

3. Pierce pastry rectangles on baking sheet all over with fork. Top with second piece of parchment. Place another 17- x 11- x 1-inch baking sheet atop parchment to weigh down pastry rectangles as they bake.

Bake pastries until edges and bottoms are golden, about 10 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan as necessary, so they bake evenly. Remove baking sheet and parchment paper from atop pastries. Turn pastries over. Continue baking uncovered until bottoms are golden, about 5 - 10 minutes longer. Transfer pastries to a wire cake rack to cool completely.

Repeat piercing and baking with remaining 4 pastry rectangles in 2 more batches.

Assemble the Napoleons:
1. Spread a thin layer of ganache on one layer of the baked pastry pieces. If the ganache is too thick or cold, let it sit at room temperature to soften. Or, microwave it at 50% power for 30 seconds at a time and stir gently afterwards until just warmed.

Place the pastry on cutting board.

2. Using a spoon and a spatula spread a thick layer of cream filling on top of the ganache covered pastry piece. Avoid the edges; leave about 1/4-inch space on all sides.

3. Repeat with second pastry rectangle, and place gently atop the ganache /pastry cream covered rectangle on cutting board.

4. Place a third pastry rectangle, without ganache and pastry cream on top of the two filled layers on platter to create three layers of puff pastry.

5. Repeat with remaining 3 pastry rectangles, ganache and pastry cream on two layers, topped with a third layer without, to form the second napoleon. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate.)

Smooth the sides of the napoleon with an offset spatula to remove any excess pastry cream.

6. Wrap the napoleons and freeze overnight and no longer. To finish, allow the napoleons to thaw for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature.

7. Using sharp serrated knife, cut each pastry crosswise into 10 equal rectangular pieces. Sprinkle powdered sugar over each, place on a serving platter and serve immediately.
SARAH SAYS: For easier slicing, refrigerate for a least 1 hour and use a long, serrated knife warmed in hot water and then dried. Clean and heat the knife in between each cut.

STORAGE
Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.

VARIATIONS
Orange-Cream Napoleon: Follow the traditional recipe, add in 2 tablespoons. of grated orange rind in Step #6 of the Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream with the vanilla extract and butter.
Optional: Include 1 1/2 cups drained mandarin oranges. Top each ganache and pastry cream layer with oranges, evenly distributed.

Strawberry Napoleon:
Include: 2 8-ounce baskets strawberries, hulled, sliced thinly
Arrange of berries in single layer atop each ganache and pastry cream layer. Press berries into the cream, and place some more pastry cream on top so the berries are submerged.

Classic Glazed Napoleons:


EXTRA INGREDIENTS
Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted; measure and then sift
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons boiling water; or more if needed

Fruit Preserve or Jam Filling:
1/3 cup seedless raspberry or strawberry jam or preserves

Chocolate Topping:
1 1/2 tablespoons melted semisweet chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS
1. In a medium mixing bowl combine confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Stir in enough boiling water to make a glaze of spreading consistency; set aside.

2. Spread a thin layer of ganache on one layer of the baked pastry pieces. If the ganache is too thick or cold, let it sit at room temperature to soften. Or, microwave it at 50% power for 30 seconds at a time and stir gently afterwards until just warmed.

3. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the raspberry or strawberry jam or preserves on top of the chocolate ganache layer.

Place the pastry on cutting board.

4. Using a spoon and a spatula spread a thick layer of cream filling on top of the ganache covered pastry piece. Avoid the edges; leave about 1/4-inch space on all sides.

5. Repeat with second pastry rectangle, and place gently atop the ganache / raspberry jam /pastry cream covered rectangle on cutting board.

6. Place a third pastry rectangle, without ganache, raspberry jam and pastry cream on top of the two filled layers on platter to create three layers of puff pastry.

7. Repeat with remaining 3 pastry rectangles, ganache and pastry cream on two layers, topped with a third layer without, to form the second napoleon. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate.)

Smooth the sides of the napoleon with an offset spatula to remove any excess pastry cream.

8. Wrap the napoleons and freeze overnight and no longer. To finish, allow the napoleons to thaw for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature.

9. Spread glaze over top of napoleons, then drizzle lines of melted chocolate from short edge to short edge. Run a toothpick lengthwise through the chocolate creating a marbled look.

10. Using serrated knife, cut each pastry crosswise into 10 equal pieces.
SARAH SAYS: For easier slicing, refrigerate for a least 1 hour and use a long, serrated knife warmed in hot water and then dried. Clean and heat the knife in between each cut.

Pear Napoleons
Filling:
6 large Bosc pears, pealed, cored and cut into ½-inch cubes
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. To make the filling, in a large nonstick skillet, bring the pears, sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the pears are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cinnamon, and let cool completely.

2. Arrange of cooled pears in single layer atop each ganache and pastry cream layer.

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