I discovered puff pastry! In search of a lighter, flakier and less processed pre-made dough for my Panera knock-off soufflés, I came across Pepperidge Farm’s puffed pastry sheets. So easy, so light and the come in two frozen sheets folded into three (so six total), so I can thaw just one sheet and not have to use a whole can of crescent roll dough.
Anyway, the photo of a dessert on the box caught my eye. The recipe for the image –a “Strawberry Napoleon”– was included on the side. I never used to pay attention to those but, really, wouldn’t the manufacturer know what recipes work best for their product? Seems logical, so I decided to try out the delicious looking pastry. I’ve made it five times now and have modified the directions to a simple, user-friendly, amateur-like-me version below.
Best part: When I use sugar free Jell-O & sugar free Cool Whip & skim milk, it’s really not even bad for me and satisfies a lot of cravings.
Here’s the result, inside (L) and out (R) and the recipe with instructions:
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream, whipped or 2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen sliced strawberries (or blueberries, or both, or whatever. Go nuts! Or, actually, go fruity!)
A couple of squares of dark chocolate or Hershey’s Syrup [Optional]
Powdered sugar [Optional]
Heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. [I actually line one with foil that I spray lightly with Pam.]
Take one of the sealed packs of pastry sheets from the freezer and let them defrost at room temperature for a minute or two. Basically, it’s one big sheet that’s been tri-folded and you want to crack it into three sheets at their natural fold.
Place the pastry strips onto the prepared baking sheets and let them defrost for about 20 minutes while your oven is heating up. I usually flip them once or twice.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Split the pastries into 2 layers, making 6 layers in all.
Prepare the pudding mix with 1 cup milk in a large bowl. [Don’t use two cups like the pudding package directions say! I use sugar free instant Jell-O.] Fold in the heavy or whipped cream which ever you chose*. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
*For vanilla pudding, I gotta say –in spite of the fat & calories– heavy cream is probably what I’ll do next time. I used sugar free Cool Whip and it was just too meh. No flavor at all. Maybe a drop of vanilla extract would help?
I’ve used chocolate pudding as filling once and used the sugar free Cool Whip in that instance and it was like a light mousse. It was enough flavor for me so I doubt I’ll try the fattier, heavy cream version.
Spread the filling into 1/2 of the split pastries, then pile on your strawberries and top with the other half of the split pastries.
Optional: Drizzle some melted dark chocolate or some Hershey’s syrup & sprinkle with some powdered sugar. This is easy and makes it look fancy but I’m not sure it adds much to the taste.
Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.
NOTE: I’ve been pre-preparing the pudding mix and baking only 1/3 of the pastry since it’s just me or sometimes me & Christian. To make the full recipe is a dang lot of dessert. I save the rest of the pudding mix in a sealed container & make a warm pastry with fresh fruit whenever to mood strikes. Like now. When I typed this. YUMMMM. My keyboard is sticky now!
For easier slicing, refrigerate the Napoleons for a least 1 hour and use a wet serrated knife.
If you want the Pepperidge Farm version which includes icing made of confectioners’ sugar & stacking into two layers, check it out here. I tried the layers and it looked like a 2-yr-old snuck in before the party and tried a sampling of each and every piece. A huge mess. As for the icing, I’ve made it. It adds nothing to the flavor, IMO. Maybe I’m not good at making icing, but it’s not worth the calories or sugar for me. So I left it off of my ingredient’s list up top.