Napoleon

On December 2, 1805, the French army under Napoleon I defeated Russian and Austrian forces at the Battle of Austerlitz. So on December 2, make a delicious Napoleon! It is known as mille-feuilles in France (meaning "a thousand sheets"). Outside of France it is known as "Napoleon." It consists of layers of puff pastry interspersed with pastry cream or whipped cream and iced with fondant and chocolate or with confectioner's sugar. It is believed to have been developed in France during the latter part of the 19th century. The Danish people have been told for generations that a Danish royal pastry chef invented the dessert way back in the 1800s on the occasion of a state visit between the Emperor Napoleon and the King of Denmark, in Copenhagen. Some sources believe that the chocolate lines on the pastry appear to form the letter "N" for Napoleon. A final story or tale is that the dessert was really a French invention after all, and that it was Napoleon's favorite pastry. It is said that he ate so many of them on the eve of Waterloo that he lost the battle. Whatever the history they are yummy, let's make one. TRADITIONAL NAPOLEON INGREDIENTS 1 lb. Pre-made Puff Pastry (refrigerated or frozen - both are good!) 4 cups Whole Milk 2/3 cup Granulated Sugar 1/3 cup Flour 7 oz. Butter (room temperature) 2 tbsp. Cornstarch 2 Vanilla Beans 10 Egg Yolks Additional Flour to roll out pastry crust Additional Butter for baking sheet (or use parchment paper as a lining) Powdered Sugar to decorate METHOD Preheat oven to 400F 1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry into a large rectangle that you will be able to cut into three even parts (once cooked, not now!). Transfer rolled out pastry onto a baking sheet (lightly buttered or else lined with parchment paper). Prick top of pastry with a fork. Cover pastry with a layer of parchment paper and place another baking sheet, of the same size, on top, to keep pastry flat. If you don't have another baking sheet, just pour rice or any dried bean over the top. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. 2. Remove pastry from the refrigerator and bake (with either the additional baking sheet on top, or with the rice/beans on top) for ten minutes. Take out of oven, remove baking sheet (or rice/beans) and remove top layer of parchment paper. Put back in oven for another 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool off entirely before spreading on cream filling. 3. As your pastry is baking, you can prepare the cream filling. In a large saucepan combine the yolks and sugar and stir well. Then stir in flour, and cornstarch. 4. Cut vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds into the mixture and stir well. 5. Slowly stir in the milk until homogenous. Put the cream filling on the stove (light heat) and very gently bring to a simmer - when you see small bubbles, take it off the heat and refrigerate. 6. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter so that it rises. Gently mix in the rest of the cream filling. 7. Once the pastry has cooled, cut it carefully (serrated knife works best) into three even parts. Using a spoon and a spatula spread a thick layer of cream filling on two parts of pastry crust. Stack these two layers and cover with the third (top) pastry piece. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar. Refrigerate until serving. Voil^! AND FINALLY... In a psychiatrist's waiting room two patients are having a conversation. One says to the other, "Why are you here?" The second answers, "I'm Napoleon, so the doctor told me to come here." The first is curious and asks, "How do you know that you're Napoleon?" The second responds, "God told me I was." At this point, a patient on the other side of the room shouts, "NO I DIDN'T!" (I'll get my coat) CHEF GILLIGAN