For an Easter Monday worthy of its name I wanted to make a fresh, colorful and unusual dessert, that everyone could like.
And so, as I moved around looking for inspiration, I stumbled on the Saturday episode of Italian Ready Steady Cook, in which the pastry chef Sal De Riso showed the preparation of a mille-feuille with wild flowers cream and garnished with peaches and red fruits… I had a divine illumination and in a second I decided that THIS would be my dessert (since my friend already prepared three more dessert plus a sorbet … but sorbet, as we say in Turin, "sgura", aka "skims")!
But I have made several modifications to the recipe shown by this skilled pastry chef: my mille-feuille is not garnished by a Bavarian cream, but a chantilly cream (custard cream plus whipped cream: this is softer than Bavarian cream, because chantilly cream doesn't have fish-glue), I used only strawberries ('cause peaches are not good, yet and I didn't find berries) and I didn't put in the middle of the puff pastry a layer of
sponge cake: mine is made only with puff pastry, period.
I hope that, despite these changes, you'll like my mille-feuille!
MILLE-FEUILLE WITH WILD FLOWERS CREAM AND STRAWBERRIES
Ingredients (8 servings)
For chantilly cream
* 3 tbsp dried wild flower (for me lavender, orange blossoms and chamomile, but you can choose the flowers that you prefer: if I went back, I'd lower the dose of lavender: its taste is too strong)
* 500 ml whole milk (perhaps you should add a little more)
* 2 egg yolks
* 160 g granulated sugar
* 80 g all-purpose flour
* 250 ml whipping cream
* 2 puff pastry roll (preferably rectangular, otherwise round in shape)
* 500 g strawberries
* powdered sugar (to garnish)
The evening before the day you'd make the mille-feuille you have to do two things: preparing the custard cream (so that it will cool down completely) and letting the strawberries to macerate with sugar (for at least 7-8 hours).
For the custard cream, first of all you must bring to a boil the milk along with dry flowers, leaving them to infuse for 3 or 4 minutes. Then strain the milk measure its volume: if it's too much evaporated, add milk until you reach 500 ml. Now put in a bowl egg yolks and sugar and beat them with the whisk; then add flour and milk previously flavored with flowers. Once you have a liquid mixture, put it in a thick-bottomed pan and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until you have a smooth and dense cream. Put this cream in a container, covered it with plastic wrap and leave it to cool. Then clean then strawberries and cut them into small pieces: put them in a bowl, add 3 tbsp of sugar and stir well, then leave to macerate in the refrigerator for a night.
The next day, start with cooking the puff pastry: if you found it in a rectangular shape, cut the pastry into two squares of the same size (so you have four square), if you found it in a round shape (like happened to me), never mind, cut the two sheets in four equal semi-circles! Preheat oven to 390° F (200° C), prick evenly with a fork your puff pastry (previously cut) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake them for about 10 minutes or until golden brown; then, let them cool down.
Meanwhile beat whipping cream (sweetened or not, depending on your taste. I didn't add sugar) with the whisk until stiff and then whip it in the custard cream (which is pretty cool and firm: therefore, before you incorporate the whipped cream, break the cream with spoon) with a wooden spoon or a spatula, from the bottom up, so that you don't deflate the whipped cream. Now you have got the wild flowers chantilly cream.
Now compose your mille-feuille: in a dish place the first puff-pastry semi-circle (or square, or any other shape you like), cover it with a generous layer of chantilly cream and then put some strawberries over it. Proceed with other layers, while ingredients last (a tip: when you superimpose a layer of puff-pastry, gently press it with your hands to compact all the layers; otherwise they remain detached), ending with a nice "garden" made of strawberries. If you have some chantilly cream and some strawberries left over, use them to garnish the dish.
In the end, garnish with some powdered sugar, which will underline the outline your mille-feuille (when sugar comes into contact with chantilly cream and strawberries, it will dissolve), and put to rest for a few hours (3-4 hours top) in the refrigerator.
Enjoy it fresh and, if you want, garnish it with some more whipped cream!