The first time I saw Mille-feuille on a cooking show on television, I was head over heels in love with them. Layers of creme patissiere (pastry cream) and fruit sandwiched between crisp layers of puff pastry. There are many adaptations that exist today and they are also known as Napoleon, Vanilla Slice, Custard Slice. Mille-feuille is french for a ‘thousand leaves’ which refers to the thousands of layers in puff pastry. If you have made puff pastry at home, you know what I mean. In fact this beautiful dessert was the reason I learnt to make my own puff pastry. Making it at home is not difficult but painstakingly time-consuming. I enjoy making things from scratch but this time around I was forced to use a store-bought one.
I wanted to do something different so instead of the pastry cream I used toasted meringue! I was pleasantly surprised how delicious it turned out. Initially I thought of making raspberry curd to go with it ,then on second thoughts settled for a raspberry compote. Some things are best left simple. This would actually make a great dessert when you are entertaining a crowd or want to make something elegant for those unexpected guests. You can easily replace the meringue with whipped cream. I have made this in the past with lemon curd, chocolate mousse, whipped cream with different fruit and berry combinations. The bottom line is that it is a very versatile yet forgiving recipe.
Raspberry Meringue Millefeuille
For the Pastry layers
2 sheets store-bought frozen puff pastry(75% thawed)
Icing sugar for dusting
For the Raspberry Compote
1 cup frozen raspberries (or fresh raspberries)
2 tbsp Castor Sugar
For the Swiss Meringue
2 egg whites
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional but helps to hold peaks)
Preheat the oven to 200 degree C. Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper. Cut out rectangles of approx 9 cm long and 5 cm wide from the puff pastry sheets. The easiest thing to do is fold the sheet in half and then quarters and follow the lines with a pizza cutter to get 8 rectangles. (Measurements will vary depending on the size of the sheets but it does not matter as long as the size of the rectangles are same. From 2 sheets you will get 16 rectangles but you will need only 15). Dust the rectangles with icing sugar and place them on the baking tray in a single layer. Bake for 10-15 mins or till pastry is crisp and golden brown in colour. Remove from the own and keep aside.
When the puff pastry is baking, place the raspberries and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. If you are using fresh raspberries, you may need to add a 2 tbsp water. Simmer for a few minutes till raspberries break down and the mixture turns into a thick sauce like consistency. Keep aside to cool.
Make the meringue: Place egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar (if using) in a large steel bowl over a pot of simmering watering. Take care to avoid the bottom of the bowl from touching the water. Whisk lightly till the sugar dissolves. At this stage, the bottom of the bowl will be warm to touch. Take it off the heat. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer slowly beat the egg whites. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer and continue beating till almost stiff peaks are reached.
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe meringue dots or swirls on 10 of the cooled puff pastry rectangles. (The remaining rectangles will make the tops of the mille-feuille. Using a blow torch lightly toast the meringue.
To assemble : Place a meringue topped pastry rectangle on the centre of the plate. Drizzle generously with raspberry sauce. Place another meringue topped rectangle on top and drizzle with more raspberry sauce. Place a plain pastry rectangle on top. Drizzle with icing sugar. Repeat with the remaining rectangles.