Easy Napoleon Pastry
I don’t remember key details from my babies’ births. Height, weight, names? Nope, nothing. Just kidding! I do remember their names. But I’d have to check their baby books for nearly everything else.
However, the meals delivered by friends once we brought our sweet babies home? I can remember almost every single one. Kelly brought homemade mac n’ cheese, fried chicken, and a Caesar salad. Ashley dropped off a huge pan of baked ziti. Kristie delivered short ribs and scalloped potatoes. Meatballs from Rebecca and chicken taquitos from Elizabeth. Heidi hooked us up with a Subway card. Want me to keep going? Because I totally could.
When I asked my mom when this recipe joined our list of family favorites, she said it was when I was born! Her cousin delivered a meal of split pea soup and corn muffins, with this for dessert. It’s been part of the family ever since.
In our family cookbook, the recipe is titled Milles Feuilles (meaning “a thousand leaves”). It also goes by the names Custard Slice, Vanilla Slice, or Napoleon. Fancy, I know, but we always called this dessert “Phony Napoleon.” If the real Napoleon stepped forward, he would have 2 layers of cream alternating between 3 layers of puff pastry.
This version simplifies everything, by swapping graham crackers for the puff pastry, pudding and whipping cream for the pastry cream. Thankfully, it’s rich enough that one small square satisfies. Otherwise nothing would stop me from grabbing a spoon and polishing off the entire pan. I wish I was kidding about that.
The sweetness of the pudding and graham crackers is balanced by the unsweetened whipped cream and bittersweet chocolate. You can put your own spin on it. Homemade pudding. Different flavors. Cool Whip instead of real whipping cream. Go for it!
The version below is the way we make it, and oh man, it is ridiculously delicious. Apparently, I have a weakness for creamy, 70’s era desserts (see here, here, and here for more proof), but this recipe is my all-time favorite. It’s simple, can be assembled in advance, and doesn’t need to be baked. A cool, creamy dessert dream that I was born to love. Make it for someone you love.
Easy Napoleon Pastry
2 pkg. graham crackers
1 box (4.6 oz.) Cook & Serve vanilla pudding
2 1/2 c. milk
1 c. whipping cream (or whipped topping)
2 T. butter, softened
3 T. milk
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 square bittersweet chocolate
- Line the bottom of a 9×13″ pan with graham crackers. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine the vanilla pudding and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently with a whisk, until it reaches a boil. Pour the pudding over the graham crackers and refrigerate until firm.
- In a mixing bowl with beater attachments, beat the whipping cream. Spread the whipped cream evenly over the pudding.
- Make another layer of graham crackers. Spread frosting over the top.
- Place the chocolate in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, checking and stirring until melted. Drizzle in thin lines over the length of the frosting. Drag a knife lightly across the chocolate to create swirled lines.
- Chill for several hours in the refrigerator before serving.
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