Featured Image from: Allrecipes
Known by many names, from Custard Slice to Napoleon, the Mille-feuille is a classic of French pastry making. Although the exact origins of the mille-feuille are unknown, recipe books from the 16th century were describing pastries that had the same elements as the modern cake: pastry cream sandwiched between multiple layers of frosting, all topped with a generous garnish of royal icing. Despite all that sugar, the mille-feuille remains fairly light, with the crispy puff pastry balancing out the intense sweetness of the cream and icing.
Rich, decadent, and a definite showstopper, many people think that a mille-feuille belongs in the realm of professional patisseries and bakers. However, we’re here to tell you: you can make it at home! And no, it doesn’t require any fancy materials, exotic ingredients, or years upon years of specialized training; all it takes is time, effort, patience, and some store-bought puff pastry dough.
It can be made a couple of days in advance, just remember to keep it covered in the refrigerator. You can certainly make your own puff-pastry dough, but frozen puff pastry dough from the supermarket works remarkably well and will most definitely save you a lot of time and effort.
Pastry and Filling:
- 3 cups pastry cream
- 1 1/2 pounds frozen puff pastry
(Optional: ½ cup heavy cream whipped to medium peaks)
Royal Icing and Decoration
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 large egg whites (room-temperature)
- 3 cups/350 grams confectioners’ sugar
- 3 ounces/80 grams bittersweet chocolate (melted)
Preparing the Puff Pastry and Custard Filling
- Take out your frozen puff pastry dough and thaw according to package instructions. It’s important that the puff pastry is cool, but not frozen. If you’re making your own, make sure that it is chilled and ready for use.
- Make your favorite version of pastry cream and cool it down completely. OPTIONAL: some people have commented that pastry cream can be too rich and heavy. To lighten the texture, fold in about half a cup of heavy cream whipped into medium peaks. Make sure it is cool before using.
Prepping the Pastry
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6
- On a lightly floured surface, gently roll out the puff pastry dough into an elongated rectangle the thickness of a thin piece of cardboard. Lightly flour your work surface. Take your puff pastry dough and roll it out into a long rectangular shape at 1/8th inch thickness.
- Take a sharp knife and cut the puff pastry dough into three pieces.
- Transfer the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a fork, pierce the dough all over.
- Use a piece of parchment paper to cover the dough. Place another baking sheet on top of the paper and weigh it down with pie weights or empty cans.
- Blind-bake the dough for about 25 minutes (if necessary, do this in batches) or until the dough is golden brown in color. You can take out the weights and the top parchment paper after 5 minutes in the oven to help it achieve that deep color.
Assemble the Mille-Feuille
- Take the baked puff pastry to racks and cool down completely before using. Once cooled, assemble your pastry dough, cream, and royal icing ingredients. If your pastry dough isn’t even, don’t worry: you’ll be trimming the edges later to make them look more uniform.
- Take half of your pastry cream and generously cover one layer of your puff pastry dough.
- Take your second puff pastry dough and lay it on top of your creamed dough. Press gently to make sure that they adhere to one another.
- Generously spread the remaining pastry cream on top of the second layer.
- Take your final pastry dough and press down firmly on the second layer. Trim the edges to make sure they are straight all throughout.
Decorating Your Mille-Feuille
- Place a glass bowl on top of a pot with slowly simmering water. Place your chocolate in the bowl and melt gently. Once completely melted and smooth, put the chocolate into a pastry bag or a decorating tube with a round tip.
- To make royal icing, beat egg whites with lemon juice until foamy. Using a stand mixer, mix in the confectioners’ sugar on low speed until glossy and smooth.
- Keep adding the confectioners’ sugar until the icing achieves the “ribbon” stage, which is when the icing holds its shape briefly when drizzled.
- Once it achieves the ribbon stage, immediately pour the icing on top of the pastry. Spread evenly over the entire surface. If some icing drips down the edge, don’t worry: that’s part of the appeal!
- At this point, you’ll need to work quickly before the icing sets. Drizzle your chocolate across the icing in parallel lines.
- With the tip of a thin, sharp knife, lightly drag it through the lines of chocolate spaced evenly from one side of the pastry to the other first in one direction, and then in the opposite direction to make a chevron pattern. This creates the classic decorative pattern shown in the photo. Using the tip of a thin knife, or a bamboo skewer, lightly drag through the chocolate lines from one side to the other, and again in the opposite direction to make chevrons –the classic mille-feuille
- Using a long knife, cut off the edges of your mille-feuille to make them look neat and uniformed.
- Carefully transfer the trimmed mille-feuille to a serving dish and refrigerate. Allow an hour or two to chill before cutting into individual portions for serving. Transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate. Mille-feuille is best served when chilled for about an hour or two. Cut into individual servings.