The easy and quick alternative to the famous French pastry
So, are you about to host a holiday dinner and haven’t decided about the dessert yet? Or maybe you are way too preoccupied with all the little things that need to be done, that you totally forgot that your guests will expect something sweet at the end of the night! Or, you’re in a situation when your family asks for a sweet treat and you’re looking for something easy and no time consuming. Relax! This faux mille feuille is here to save the day.
My previous post was a super simple leftover chicken pie, made in only 30 minutes from start to finish, that’s actually a version of a very common Greek dish. Today, I’m posting a simplified version of a classic French dessert. What can you say, I like things simple! Most of the times… This dessert is quite popular in my country, and I have yet to find someone who doesn’t like it. I believe the reason for this, is that it’s one of those foods that have something vaguely familiar, something like a flavor profile that takes you back to your childhood, when you were playing outside and your mother called you from the kitchen to give you a little treat…
The classic mille feuille uses baked puff pastry sheets. To save time and effort, instead of puff pastry some French butter cookies –petit beurres – are used. These rectangular cookies give this recipe its distinct taste, so you should try and not substitute them with another kind of cookie. After being dipped for an instant in a plate of cold milk, they’re laid inside a casserole dish and get covered with a freshly made pastry (patisserie) cream. I guess, if you want to make it ridiculously easy, you can use a store bought vanilla pudding mix instead of the pastry cream, but really, nothing can compare to a homemade, fragrant patisserie. Let the dessert cool in the fridge for a while, top with crushed cookies, icing sugar and some cinnamon and you’ll have a dessert that you will be asked to make again and again! Seriously, if you’re not prepared to respond to constant requests for this dessert, you should think twice before making it.
- If you want to make this dessert for a holiday dinner or a dinner with guests, I just want to suggest my rule for occasions like that: When I cook for a lot of people, I never make recipes I haven’t already tried/tested. So, if you haven’t made some pastry cream from scratch before, maybe you should make half a batch some days before, just to get the hang of it, or even opt for the version with the store bought mix 🙂
- Pastry cream is typically made with egg yolks and cream. When a recipe asks only for yolks, I put the whites in a zip log bag and freeze them. I use them later to make meringues or white cakes (check these chocolate meringues I use in my Pure Chocolate Mousse Cake!). For times when I don’t want to do that, I've adjusted this recipe in using whole eggs and I believe that the end result lacks nothing in taste. However, if you want to use more yolks, you can use two yolks for every one whole egg.
- For this recipe, a kitchen scale will give you more consistent results than measuring cups, so if you have one you should use it!
- If you can't find petit buerres, I guess you could use graham crackers instead, though the final result will be a little different.
The faux “mille feuille”
- 2 packages betit beurres (about 14 oz / 400 grams total (you will have some left, dip them in your coffee!))
- ¼ cup milk
- For the cream patisserie:
- ¾ cup (150 grams) sugar
- ½ cup (80 grams) cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs (or 6 yolks plus 2 whole eggs)
- 4 cups (1000 grams) milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons butter
- A casserole dish approximately 8x11 inches 20x28 cm or a round pan 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter
- Some icing sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling before serving
- Make the cream patisserie: In a big bowl, using a fork, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. (This method ensures that corn flour won’t form any lumps)
- In a large pot, heat the milk with the honey and vanilla, but do not boil. When it gets really warm, take it off the heat.
- Add a cup of hot milk into the egg mixture and stir really well. Then, add the egg mixture into the pot with the milk and start stirring with a whisk.
- Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the cream thickens. At first it will look thin and frothy, but it will start to thicken after a while. You should take it off the heat just before it starts to bubble, or the minute you see the first bubble.
- Strain through a strainer over a bowl. (You can skip straining your cream if you’re sure it has no lumps or cooked egg pieces, but you should transfer it into another bowl to prevent it from cooking further. If you’re like me and you don’t want to wash another bowl, fill your sink with some cold water and place the pot inside to cool it rapidly). Add the butter and stir to combine.
- Pour the ¼ cup milk into a plate, and very briefly dip the cookies and lay them into the casserole. If you have any empty spaces, break a cookie and fill the gaps.
- Pour one third of the cream over the cookies and level it with a spatula.Cover with another layer of cookies, cream, cookies and then cream.Crumble some of the leftover cookies (with your hands or a food processor) and cover the top of the dessert.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.Sprinkle with some icing sugar and cinnamon just before serving.Eat.
- Pastry cream (patisserie) is typically made with egg yolks and cream. I have adjusted this recipe in using whole eggs. However, if you want to use more yolks, you can use two yolks for every one whole egg.
- Keep refrigerated for up to 4-5 days (if it lasts so long!)