21 August 2007

Blueberry Cheesecake Napoleons

(Millefeuille Myrtille avec Fromage à la Crème) I recently held an all-dessert party for my friends (more on that later), and while searching for great dessert minis in between studying (a bad idea), I came across Cakechef, a Japanese professional pastry chef site. What's incredible about it is that they will show you the entire recipe for free, complete with instructions. Assuming you have the materials needed (and that's a pretty big assumption), you can recreate signature desserts (and they're very creative in Japan) at home. That's a sweet deal (free), not even Chocolatier Magazine or Pastry Art and Design Magazine can match that. They had Millefeuille Myrtille, or Blueberry Napoleons, and it looked impressive despite being easy to make. The catch was that I had never worked with puff pastry before. (Instructions follow)
Blueberry Cheesecake Napoleons
Puff pastry (pâte feuilletée) is supposedly an easy pastry; in involves encasing a block of butter in a dough (the détrempe) and rolling it out and folding it six times (the tourage), multiplying its layers in geometric progression. Unfortunately, even at its coldest, the Philippines is too warm to make puff pastry in, so I resorted to buying a kilo from Santi's Delicatessen for about P250 (£2.50 or $5). You get 5-10 inch squares. After defrosting for 5 minutes at room temperature, cut 2 large squares into 16 squares each, being careful not to drag the knife across the pastry (you have to use a guillotine motion). Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F). Place the puff pastry squares on a lined and greased baking sheet, giving about at least half an inch of space in between each. Moisten the tops lightly with water, and dust (?) the tops evenly with granulated (ideally superfine) sugar. Place in the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 190°C (375°F). Bake for 10 minutes, then weigh the top with a cooling rack gently and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, then turn up the temperature to 245°C (475°F). Flip all of the puff pastry squares, dust the tops evenly with confectioner's sugar, and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

The cream cheese diplomat cream is another first for me, and it was kind of fun to make. You need pastry cream, whipping/ heavy cream, and cream cheese. For the pastry cream, boil 1 cup of whole milk in the microwave. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 3 large egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 tbsp + 2 tsp cornstarch. Whisk together to combine, then drizzle in a bit of the hot milk to get the yolks used to the temperature, then add the rest of the milk, whisking all the while. Place over medium heat and whisk vigorously and constantly. Let it come to a boil, then continue cooking for 1-1/2 minute (still whisking!). Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and strain into a small bowl set over ice water. Let it cool down to 60°C (140°F), then stir in 1 tbsp + 2 tsp unsalted butter in 2 additions until combined. Let it cool completely, cover with plastic wrap to the very surface, and place in the refrigerator.

Whip 400g (about 1-2/3 cups) whipping/ heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Fold in the pastry cream until combined. This is what's called Diplomat Cream.

Whip 200g of room-temperature cream cheese until smooth, then add about a quarter of the diplomat cream, folding to combine. Then dump the entire mixture on top of the rest of the diplomat cream and fold until thoroughly combined.

To assemble the napoleons, Take a square of puff pastry, pipe a circle of the cream cheese filling, then top with a spoonful of fresh or canned blueberries. Top with a second square of puff pastry and repeat.

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