My nephew and I made Napoleons last night. See what I did there with the subject line?
I have conquered gluten-free puff pastry
, you see. I had half a batch in the fridge (the first half having gone to make little test crackers), and I wanted to use it up before it went off. So I told my nephew, who's getting to that always-hungry age, that I was going to make Napoleons, and would he like to help out and then eat them?
"They are delicious stacks of puff pastry layered with rich vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate-striped fondant."
Nephew, being a sensible boy who has been raised on good food, a) actually knew what I was talking about in that description and b) instantly perceived its appeal.
We ran to the store for a few things, then came back and he read me the recipe and measured stuff (in between playing with his iPhone and talking to me about Halo Reach), and by and by we had these sort-of Napoleons.
The pastry cream was too thin--more of a crème anglaise, really. We could not be bothered with fondant, so settled for powdered-sugar icing. The chocolate stripes were more like little blobs ("polka dots," we decided), and the result was incredibly messy and the portion had to be served in a bowl, with more custard spooned over the top to make up for what smooshed out upon cutting.
It was not photogenic, so I didn't photograph it.
But oh sweet mother of Jesus, it was delicious. The puff pastry (made from rice and tapioca flours, mostly) was absolutely perfectly croustillant
--it crackled between the teeth with the most delicious crunch, and stayed crisp even in the face of the too-thin pastry cream. The pastry cream was rich and sweet and vanilla and cold. Eating this thing was dessert heaven.
Nephew and I each had a portion, then my 17 year old niece came over and she and I split what was left. She agreed that this was one of the greater family pâtisserie achievements ever.
Then I went to bed, and oh the dreams I had. The tossing and turning. The noise of my brain. I awoke this morning with a genuine, honest-to-badness hangover
from the sugar. It took me two quarts of water, two ibuprofen, and two large cups of black coffee to begin to feel like a real girl again.
It's been a long time since I sugared out like that. Makes me realize how far I've come, because I used to be in that state, like, most of the time.
So will I be making gluten free Napoleons again? Oh hell yes. But I'll make them presentable, so that I can present them to others before they kill me.