Sweet love in every bite. Why not give your Valentine John Barricelli's Heart-shaped Raspberry Napoleons?
- 1/2 pound frozen puff pastry, preferably all butter, thawed
- Pastry Cream*
- 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Place puff pastry on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and poke holes all over surface using the tines of a fork; top with a second piece of parchment paper. Place 2 baking sheets on top of parchment paper to weigh down; transfer to oven. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove puff pastry from oven and uncover; let cool completely. Using a 3 1/4-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut six hearts from puff pastry, reserving scraps.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip with pastry cream. Place 1 heart-shaped piece of puff on each of two dessert plates. Pipe pastry cream over the surface of each heart, almost to the edge. Place raspberries around the perimeter of the pastry cream. Top each with a second puff pastry heart and repeat process. Top each with a third puff pastry heart.
- Crumble a little of the reserved puff pastry scraps and top Napoleons with crumbs. Dust tops with confectioners' sugar and pipe a little pastry cream in the center of each. Top with a raspberry and serve immediately.
*To make Pastry Cream:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
- Pinch of salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean.
- Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter, and beat on medium speed until the butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.
- Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Just before using, beat on low speed until smooth (you can also whisk by hand).