This cake is even deemed the “Kremowka Papieska” (Papal cream cake) in Eastern Europe, because Pope John Paul II loved this sweet confection, and also never stopped at eating just one piece. Needless to say, this is the my favorite dessert, hands down. It is so simple – puff pastry, unsweetened whipped cream, and vanilla pudding. The combination is mouthwatering, and finger-licking good – literally – it can get a tad messy while eating, but who doesn’t love having to lick whipped cream and vanilla pudding off their fingers?
Vanilla and Cream Napoleon
When I was a little girl, my mom would make this dessert for nearly every special occasion. I would get so giddy, and end up eating around five, six, even seven pieces in one night, and then remember that feeling sick later from having so much was totally worth it because it was so good.
Vanilla and Cream Napoleon
Makes a half-sheet tray, 24 pieces
2 sheets store bought puff pastry sheets (I use Pepperidge Farm Dough, can be found in the frozen section at the grocery store)
1 package instant vanilla pudding (I use Jiffy, the 5.1 oz/144 grams box)
3 cups cold milk
16 ounces heavy cream
Powdered sugar for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
De-thaw the frozen puff pastry sheets until flexible enough to roll out with a rolling pin (**don’t wait until it’s completely de-thawed, otherwise it will be a little tough to roll-out). Flour the board, pastry, and rolling pin, and roll-out the pastry to fit onto a half sheet pan (18×13), keeping the rectangular shape.
Transfer rolled puffy pastry dough onto the sheet pans (two sheet pans – each one will hold one pastry dough), and with a fork, puncture the dough thoroughly to prevent air bubbles. Bake at 400 degrees F for around 20 minutes, or until the pastry doughy is a light golden-brown. **Keep an eye out on the dough while baking. If it starts to puff up, simply open the oven and pop the air bubble with a fork, then continue baking. Once done, cool thoroughly before assembling.
For the filling:
Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set Aside.
Prepare the instant vanilla pudding. Whisk the pudding mix with 3 cups of cold milk, the pudding will be soft, but it will set within 5 minutes. Once the pudding has been set, fold a 1/2 cup of the whipped cream into the pudding. Set aside.
Spread the pudding mixture onto one layer of the puff pastry. Then, add the whipped cream layer. Place the top puff pastry layer on top. Begin cutting into squares, first cutting around the border to eliminate the edges (**this part is the most challenging part because the napoleon is so delicate – I use an electric serrated knife, but using a regular sharp serrated knife will work as well, just handle with care).
Once cut, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and don’t forget to remove (or, ahem, nibble on) the edges before serving. Bon Appetit!!