Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chocolate and Strawberry Napoleons

So this is a take on the classic French dessert and is perfect for when you are throwing a dinner party and want to impress your guests with the amazing world of vegan pastry. It also helps if your guests are not worried about their daily caloric intake. In this version I make a strawberry gel with agar, but you could use some quality jam instead. Fresh berries would also be awesome, too, but since it is the dead of winter I don't have access to any (save the ones from California in the un-recycleable plastic clamshell). On the other hand, the gel helps give it a nice layered look and keeps the final dessert from getting too messy. The trick here is not to go overboard on the creme, and to make sure that all the components have cooled so the creme does not melt. You will have some left over (and some gel) but there are worse things that could happen to you.

Makes 9
-1/4 block of puff pastry (i.e. make this recipe and cut it into 4 blocks)

- scant 3 tbsp soy milk
- 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp maple syrup

Creme Filling
- 1/2 can coconut milk, refrigerated (not low fat)
- 1.5 tsp brandy
- 2 tbsp icing sugar

Strawberry Gel
- 2 cup frozen strawberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 tbsp water, divided
- 1 tbsp agar flakes

- icing sugar for dusting

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
1. Roll out the well-chilled dough on a lightly floured surface into a 6x6 inch square. Roll the sides with the folds in them slightly longer, then trim to 6" with a sharp knife (this will help the pastry bake up straight). With a sharp knife, cut the dough into nine 2" squares (i.e. make a # pattern). Transfer to the baking sheet, leaving some space in between them, cover the another piece of parchment, and refrigerate for 30 mins.
2. While the pastry is cooling, make the creme filling. It is essential that the coconut milk be very cold, so make sure it has been in the fridge at least overnight. Drain off the water and place 1/2 the remaining fat in a bowl. Whisk until smooth (this will take a little elbow grease). Add the brandy and icing sugar and whisk well. Place back in the fridge to keep cold.
3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees. When dough is done chilling, gently poke through the layers with a fork 2 times, then bake for 22-25 mins, or until nicely golden.
4. Transfer to a cooling rack. As soon as the pastry can be handled, separate each square into three (it should easily divide along the fold lines). Let completely cool.
5. While the pastry is baking, make the strawberry gel. Combine frozen berries with sugar and 1 tbsp of water. In a separate bowl, sprinkle agar over the remaining 3 tbsp of water. Place berries over med-hi heat and bring to bubbling. When berries have softened, mash them with a fork or potato masher. You don't want to completely pulverize them: small chunks is the way to go. Add agar and water and let bubble away for 5 mins over medium heat. The mixture will get a bit thicker. Pour into a 9x13" pan and place into the fridge to cool down.
6. Make the ganache. Heat the soy milk to bubbling, then take off the heat and mix in the chocolate chips. When melted and smooth, mix in syrup until smooth.
7. To assemble:
  • dip the top of the bottom layer of pastry in the ganache, as well as the bottom of the top layer. Place in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up.
  • Cut the strawberry gel into 2" squares
  • Start with your dipped bottom piece, then place a square of strawberry gel on top, then a dollop of creme filling. Top that with your middle piece, then another dollop of creme. Top that with another square of strawberry gel, then your top piece.
  • Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately (with a fork).