The beginning of my summers have always called for fruit picking in the back alleys of Brentwood, where my family and I would drive down to different farms along the dusty trails for cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, strawberries, fresh honey, and…well, all sorts of other homemade goods from pies to jellies (only because I couldn’t resist the temptation). Plucking fruit off the tree and snacking on the way in a scorching day was my favorite thing to do. Admittedly, we would always pick too much and end up giving them away to friends and family. There’s no better way to start off the season than with some desserts that call for fresh fruit. This time, I decided to make rose mille-feuille and Sicile, a creation from Hidemi Sugino that incorporates mûroise (also known as loganberry, a natural hybrid of raspberry and blackberry) and pistachio.
Mille-feuille is a classic dessert that had sat in my mind for a while, but the recipe, with its foreign French terms like détrempe and beurre manié and 4-5 hours preparation time, had always intimidated me. The most difficult thing I encountered was rolling out the dough (blast my weak arms), but it was fairly simple otherwise. I divided my baking several times into smaller sheets, since it was easier for me to roll. If the dough softens, just pop them into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or so before baking. I’m sure I still have much to learn for a perfect puff pastry, but seeing the flaky layers form for each sheet filled my heart with joy and satisfaction that I was successful the first time. I based the rose pastry cream off Eddy Van Damme’s recipe. While his recipe used raspberry puree, I believe strawberries would do the trick as well!
Sicile was a delight to make and eat. The pistachio mousse was creamy but very light, which balances the tartness of the berry mousse. Forked together with a kirsch soaked pistachio joconde, it was the taste of summer’s sweetness. Although Hidemi Sugino’s version called for mûroise and fraises des bois (a type of European woodland strawberry), I had to substitute raspberries and blackberries in a 1:1 ratio for the puree in the mousse. May the day come that a nice supermarket in the Bay Area would sell virtually all sorts of exotic fruits.
Pâte Feuilletée (Makes about 60 pieces of 7cmX3.25cm puff pastry pieces)
350g all purpose flour
110g melted butter
375g butter (room temperature)
150g all purpose flour
Rose Pastry Cream
180g heavy cream
180g raspberry puree
55g granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
45g superfine sugar
180g heavy cream
Some rose essence
- For the détrempe, blend flour and the melted butter with a paddle attachment in a mixer until just combined.
- Slowly pour in salted water as you continue mixing on low speed. The dough should be soft and moist, but not sticky.
- Quickly roll out your dough into a 15cmX20cm rectangular sheet. Wrap in cling wrap and set in the refrigerator.
- For the beurre manié, cream the butter in another bowl until fluffy. Blend in all the flour until combined.
- Roll out to a rectangular sheet approximately the same size as the détrempe. Be sure to work quickly, as the butter will start melting. Set in refrigerator for two hours.
- Take out the détrempe and roll the dough out until it’s 15cmX40cm. Set the beurre manié on the lower part of the dough, and fold the upper half over it. (Imagine you’re shutting a book).
- Turn the book so that the spine is on the left.
- Roll out the dough into a 20cmX40cm rectangular sheet. Trim your edges so it’ll be straight and neat. Fold the lower corner until it meets the middle axis of the sheet, and the upper corner until it meets the middle axis of the sheet.
- Finally, fold the halves together (like you’re closing a book). Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour or two.
- Repeat steps 7-9.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 20cmX30cm rectangle. Now fold in thirds (imagine you’re folding a business letter).
- Refrigerate for another hour before using.
- Divide your dough and roll into rectangular sheets that are about 3mm thick (the feel should be that of pliant cardboard paper).
- Prick all over with fork. Line a pan with parchment paper, and bake the dough for 10 minutes at 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Open the oven, place a piece of parchment paper on top of the puff pastry, and set another sheet pan on top to weigh the pastry down. Bake for another 10 minutes.
- Take the pastry out and lightly sprinkle surface with sugar. Bake the pastry at 400 degrees Fahrenheit on the upper third rack of the oven for 5 minutes so that it’ll caramelize. Every oven is different, so be sure to keep a tight watch on the pastry to ensure it doesn’t burn.
- Cool pastry on a cookie sheet. Once cooled, cut into mini rectangles for assembly.
Rose Pastry Cream
- To make the puree, blend raspberries in a food processor and push the mixture through a sieve.
- In a stainless steel pot, bring the heavy cream, raspberry puree, and granulated sugar to a boil.
- In another pot, bring the milk to a boil.
- In a bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks before adding the extra fine sugar. Continue whisking until combined before adding the cornstarch. Whisk until combined.
- Slowly pour in the boiling milk into the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Return the mixture to the raspberry/cream pot.
- Cook the mixture on low heat while stirring gently with a wooden spatula. The cream is finished when it coats the back of the spatula (or has the consistency of choux pastry).
- Remove from heat and set in refrigerator to let cool.
- In another bowl, whip the heavy cream and rose essence together.
- Take the raspberry pastry cream out and quickly whisk with an electric mixer so the consistency is even. Fold the rose whipped cream and raspberry pastry cream together.
- Fill a pipping bag with the rose pastry cream.
- Pipe large dots on top of a puff pastry piece. Set another piece of puff pastry on top.
- Pipe more dots of pastry cream before setting another piece of puff pastry on top.
- Decorate! You can use raspberries, candied rose petals, powdered sugar, or anything else you wish.