Molded Chocolate-filled Napoleons {ModBak}

This week’s recipe for the Modern Baker Challenge is one of several versions of mille feuille, which consist of a filling (usually sweet, but sometimes savory) between baked layers of puff pastry. Mille feuille is French for “thousand leaves”, a reference to the delicate layers exhibited by the puff pastry when it is baked.

To make the Napoleons, I began by baking a pastry layer, which I then cut to fit a foil-lined pan.

Next, I made a richly flavored chocolate mousse to go between the pastry layers. Most of the chocolate mousse recipes I’m familiar with are made fluffy by the addition of either whipped cream or egg white meringue to a chocolate pudding base. So I was surprised to see that Nick’s recipe utilizes both whipped cream and meringue. I had no doubt that this would make a stunning mousse.

Another interesting twist to Nick’s recipe is a secret that I recently picked up from Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table — the addition of unflavored gelatin to the mousse. As I learned when I made Dorie’s citrus-berry terrine, French chefs (both home and professional) see gelatin as just another pantry staple and use it for many things, including strengthening whipped cream and stabilizing mousse that’s destined to be used as a filling, as in this recipe.

I spread the mousse over the baked pastry layer in the pan.

Then I topped the mousse with a second pastry layer, compressed it gently, and chilled it in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I removed the pan from the refrigerator and unmolded the pastry by lifting it out of the pan, peeling away the foil, then transferring the pastry to a cutting board with a large cake spatula.

I trimmed the edges of the pastry, then cut it into serving-sized pieces. I dusted the Napoleons with powdered sugar and cocoa, then plated them with a few raspberries.

My family is accustomed to my cooking and baking, which often includes exotic ingredients and fancy plating. But even they were impressed with these pastries, which we all agreed looked like they had come from a fancy bakery.

And the taste? Well, let’s just say it lived up to the appearance. The mousse was rich and deeply flavored. And the pastry was crisp, buttery, and flaky.

This is a dessert worthy of your best dinner party. It’s also perfect for a weeknight family supper.

Margaret wrote the official post for this recipe. You can read about her experience here.

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9 Comments

  1. teaandscones said,

    September 4, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    These are beautiful, Rooster. I could have sworn I had been here, but I guess not. I will get to these soon.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks. I was a bit intimidated by the filled layer recipes, but they all turned out great.

  2. August 29, 2011 at 7:02 am

    […] Modern Baker Mondays offering is the last in a series of sweet mille-feuille, which included chocolate-filled Napoleons and raspberry mille-feuille. The feuillettés are similar to the raspberry mille-feuille, the main […]

  3. Renee said,

    August 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Lovely! Yours turned out much prettier than mine. I’ve fallen behind on the FFwD group but I did notice the gelatine addition and thought it was a great way to stabilize the whip cream in this recipe.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 16, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      Thanks. I was looking at mine compared to the one in the book and thinking NIck’s were much prettier. The edges on his were so clean and smooth. I think mine would have been better if I had used parchment rather than foil.

  4. Kayte said,

    August 15, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Wow, those look really impressive. Loved the process photos, of course, but that last photo all plated up is absolutely gorgeous…fine job on that one indeed. Love that plate, too.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 15, 2011 at 11:33 am

      Thanks, Kayte. Can’t wait to hear what you think of these!

  5. Abby said,

    August 15, 2011 at 9:24 am

    The plating is gorgeous! And we absolutely LOVED this recipe…so tasty!

    • gaaarp said,

      August 15, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Thanks! We loved this one, too.


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