Here's an easy yet beautiful dessert for early summer that shows off the berries or fresh fruit you have around, layering them with light vanilla custard and spiced crispy squares of baked phyllo. It's not a true napoleon, or mille-feuille, but it takes far less work and keeps your oven on for only a short time.
We've used cardamom in the layered pastry - its spicy, smoky sweetness goes beautifully with the blackberries here! Any leftover blackberry sauce is heaven swirled into plain yogurt or over pancakes, too.
Phyllo Napoleons with Blackberry Sauce and Vanilla Cream
12 ounces frozen or fresh blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Kirsch
1 recipe Pastry Cream
5 sheets phyllo dough
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 cup sugar
Combine the blackberries, sugar, Kirsch and lemon zest and leave in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Puree half the blackberries in a food processor and mix with the whole berries.
Heat the oven to 400°F and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment. Melt the butter and whisk with the cardamom. Brush a sheet of phyllo dough with the butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Repeat until all sheets are used. Cut the sheets into 12 equal squares. Bake for about 7 minutes or until browned and crispy. Let cool.
To assemble the dessert, spoon pastry cream on a square and drizzle blackberry sauce over top. Put another square on top and layer with pastry cream and sauce. Top with a third square and finish with whole blackberries and cream.
More spring desserts and vanilla...
• Recipe: Spiced Cream and Plum Verrines
• Tip: Making Vanilla Sugar
• Sources: Vanilla Beans in Bulk
• Technique: Homemade Vanilla Extract
• Recipe: Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream