Monday, September 21, 2015

Polish Napoleon

I love Napoleons which are a French dessert.  However, I found out that Polish people have their own take on this dessert as well.  It only has two layers of puff pastry and no fondant.  Super easy to put together and I must say quite impressive.  Enjoy.

Polish Napoleons
2 cookie sheets lined with parchment

1 box of Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry with 2 sheets of pastry dough
Powder sugar for dusting

4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup whipped whipping cream

More powder sugar for dusting.

Preparing Puff Pastry:
 Roll out puff pastry to about a 10x14 depending on size you want to fit in pan.  Keep in mind it will shrink about an inch all around after baking.  You can trim after baking to desired size to fit in pan.

After rolling puff pastry, poke all over with fork.  Bake in a 375 degree oven until golden brown, remove from oven and dust with powder sugar and place back in oven to caramelize.  Remove from oven and flip over and do the underside with a dusting of powder sugar and bake until caramelized.  This adds a wonderful texture and flavor to the puff pastry, similar to the top of a creme brulee.  Do not skip this step, it makes a huge difference.  Roll out other sheet and do the same as above.  When finished, let pastries cool completely for assembly.

Make Filling: Can make filling in advance to cool
In a medium saucepan, mix milk, 3/4 sugar, vanilla bean seeds and salt.  Slowly cook over medium heat and bring to a light simmer.  In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, cornstarch and remaining 3/4 sugar.  Whisking constantly, add hot milk into egg yolk mixture.  Keep whisking.

Transfer mixture back into sauce pot.  On gentle heat, bring mixture to a boil.  Be careful it can burn very easily.  Make sure you are whisking constantly.  As soon as you see first bubble from boiling,  remove from stove top, add butter and continue to mix well with a wooden spoon.

Place custard in a bowl.  Cover with clear wrap directly on top of custard to prevent a skin from forming.  Custard needs to cool for about 2 hours.  Fold in the whipped whip cream into custard with a spatula.

In a 9x13 place a piece of parchment paper to overhang long sides about 2 inches on each side.  This is for easy lifting of the Napoleon when frozen.  If you have to cut your first piece of puff pastry to fit into the 9x13 pan do so.  Place pastry sheet on bottom of parchment lined pan.  Place custard on top and smooth out with off set spatula to even out.  Place the other Pastry sheet on top.  Gently press down to even out custard.  Cover  Napoleon with clear wrap and place in freezer for 5 hours to freeze.  This is for easy slicing.  Remove Napoleon by lifting from the parchment paper overhang on sides of pan.  Place on cutting board.  Generously sift powder sugar all over Napoleon.  Using a serrated knife, slice frozen Napoleon into perfect slices.  Place in fridge for about 5 hours to come to perfect consistency. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Danish Pastry

Danish Pastry Posted originally on my old blog Soap Mom's Kitchen
For the yeast dough starter, put into a small bowl or one cup measuring cup, the following ingredients:
1/4 cup warm water (105*F to 115*F)
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
Wait 5 to 10 minutes to activate the yeast; it will be bubbly.  If not bubbly, discard.  Try again.  If yeast still did not activate,  you need to buy new yeast.

In a separate large bowl add and whisk together
1/2 cup milk at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
Set aside.

In a food processor add
2 3/4 cups flour
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
Process only until butter forms large clumps.  Do not over-process into a meal.  You want to see clumps of butter.  Have another 1/2 cup of flour in reserve to bring the dough together into a soft ball.

In a large mixing bowl place the egg, milk, sugar mixture add the yeast dough starter. Mix well.  Add flour-butter mixture, and using a spoon bring the dough together.  You can mix the dough with your impeccably clean hands as well.  Using the reserved 1/2 cup flour, bring the dough together to make a soft dough ball.  Do not overwork the dough as you do not want to melt the butter.  Grease the bowl slightly with vegetable oil and gently turn the dough over in the bowl to lightly coat the dough ball with the oil. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Cheese Filling 
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine and mix well.

Honey Glaze
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons water
Heat in a microwave safe bowl and use a pastry brush to glaze the baked Danish.

Confectioner's Glaze
3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon of water (or enough to achieve desired consistency for drizzling)
Mix well.  Use to drizzle on top of cooled Danish.

Optional but highly recommended
Jam or preserve  or curd of choice to add on top of the cheese filling
Toasted sliced almonds

Oven 350* F.
Parchment-lined or generously greased cookie sheet.

The next day, on a well floured surface, roll out the dough into a large 16-inch square and fold into thirds.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Take the dough out and roll again into a 10 x 20 rectangle and refold as before.  Cover and refrigerate.  Do this for a total of 3 times.

After the third roll into a 10 x 20 rectangle, cut into strips.  Cut along the short side.  About 1 inch wide. 

Take two strips and twist them, forming the twisted strips into a circle and pinching the ends together.
Pinch the inner part of the ring all the way around towards the center to make a base for the filling.  Spray the tops of the danish with spray release and cover gently with clear wrap.  Let rise for about 35 minutes in a warm spot or until proofed.

Add cheese filling and a tablespoon of preserves on top of the cheese if you wish.  Bake in a 350*F oven for about 18 minutes or until golden brown. 

Glaze with honey glaze, a drizzle of confectioner's glaze, and if you want to guild the lily, a few toasted sliced almonds.

One of the beauties of this recipe is that the dough can be prepared ahead of time, frozen, defrosted, and finished off at your pleasure.

To prepare in advance and then freeze, prepare the dough up to and including twisting the strips into a circle. Spray with the pan release, put on a tray and place in your freezer for a couple of hours. Once completely frozen, remove the pastries from the freezer and store in a plastic bag. When you are ready to bake, defrost the rings (they defrost quite quickly) and proceed with pinching the inside of the rings towards the center to make the base for the filling. Allow to rise and then bake and glaze.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Baked Mozzarella Clam Dip

Baked Mozzarella Clam Dip
Source: Cousin Tina


1/2 cup of salted butter
1 cup of bread crumbs
1 medium onion minced
2 10 ounce cans of minced clams with juice
2 T. mayonnaise
2 teaspoons of oregano
2 teaspoons of parsley
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
2 Tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
6 ounces of  shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
1 box of Town House butter crackers or slices of baguette lightly toasted


Saute onions in butter until clear.

Combine bread crumbs, clams, oregano, parsley, mayo, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese to small baking dish.

Add butter and onion and combine well.

Add shredded mozzarella and combine well.

Bake in a 350° oven for 25 minutes.  Top should be nicely browned and bubbly.

Serve hot with crackers or baguettes.

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