MILLEFOGLIE or Millefeuille and CREMA PASTICCIERA or crème pâtissière

Millefoglie – a thousand leaves – is better known in Australia perhaps by its French name, Millefeuille.

As you can see in the photo, a Millefoglie is a magnificent and very fancy looking cake (a grand- finale- dessert), made with layers (or leaves) of thin and airy, flaky pastry. This one has three layers of pastry and two of different creams: the top layer is Chantilly cream, the other as you may guess by its delicate, green colour is crema pasticciera and ground pistachios. Look at the top of the Millefoglie and you have some crushed pistachios and some fresh strawberries. And there you have it, whether it is incidental, the red, white and green are the colours of the Italian flag.

Both France and Italy have perfected many versions of this sweet. In Verona they make Millefoglie Strachin. This is layered with Crema soufflé and as the name suggests, it is a light and airy cream filling. Icing sugar  is usually sprinkled on top.

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In Italy the Millefoglie is associated with celebrations, for example birthdays, baptisms and communions, weddings; the square shape makes it easy to cut into portions. The puff pastry is probably the most laborious to make and because it is usually a large cake it is customarily made by pastry chefs and bought from a Pasticceria.

Mine was a gift and it came from Marianna’s pastry shop called Dolcetti. I have written about Marianna’s sweets many times on my blog because I think that she is very talented and makes a great range of delectable sweets.

This Millefoglie looks stunning and tastes as good as it looks. I do not like over sweet desserts and I would describe this as being delicately sweet.

I will not give you Marianna’s recipe – this is her secret, but there are many do-able recipes on the web. For those of you who are not keen to make your own puff pastry there are good ones on the market

I did not have to look hard for a recipe on my bookshelves either. Those of you who are old enough to have Le Cordon Bleu or Raymond Oliver’s La Cuisine will find recipes for Millefeuille – for making the puff pastry, Chantilly cream and almond custard (not pistachio).

I also found a marvellous recipe in my copy of Grande Enciclopedia illustrata della gastronomia (Guarnaschelli Gotti).

There are many recipes for making crème pâtissière or crema pasticcera or pastry cream in books and magazines and on the web.

Here are two recipes from two belle dames of cuisine, one from Ada Boni and one from Julia Child.

See English – language version below the Italian.

Ada Boni’s crema pasticciera:

Per farcire una torta per 6 persone:

Zucchero in polvere, g. 90 (3 cucchiai colmi) – tuorli d’uovo, 3 – Farina, g. 75 (3 cucchiai) – Buccia di limone o vaniglina – Latte, l. 0,500 – Facoltativo: burro, quanto una noce.

Mettete in una casseruola lo zucchero e i rossi d’uovo. Mescolate con un cucchiaio di legno e aggiungete la farina e un pezzo di buccia di limone (evitando accuratamente la parte bianca) o un po’ di buccia di limone grattata, o una puntina di vaniglina. Mettete sul fuoco il latte e quando sarà quasi bollente versatelo a piccole quantità sulle uova, la farina e lo zucchero. mescolando e sciogliendo con una piccola frusta. Quando avrete aggiunto tutto il latte, togliete via la frusta e mettete la casseruola sul fuoco, mescolando continuamente col cucchiaio di legno. Vedrete che ben presto la crema si addenserà gradatamente. Continuate a mescolarla sempre e, raggiunta l’ebollizione, lasciate che la crema bolla per cinque minuti affinché possa perdere il sapore di farina. Appena tolta dal fuoco, se credete, aggiungeteci una noce di burro, ciò che le comunica una maggiore finezza. Mescolate ancora e mentre la crema si fredda non dimenticate di mescolarla di quando in quando per impedirle di fare la pellicola alla superficie.

Easy translation and interpretation of Ada Boni’s recipe:

3 egg yolks + 3 tbsp sugar + 3 tbs flour (I prefer to use corn flour) + 500ml milk.1 level tablespoon of butter, lemon peel, either grated or a thin shaving of the peel, vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways and placed into the milk as it heats).

In a saucepan large enough to hold the milk place the 3 egg yolks with 3 tablespoons sugar and mix it with a wooden spoon until it is creamy. Gradually add 3 tablespoons flour and mix it again till it is smooth. Add a thin strip of lemon peel or grated lemon and or a little vanilla.

Heat 500ml of milk until it is nearly boiling. Pour the hot milk slowly into the egg mixture, stirring continuously and thoroughly so as to avoid lumps (I use a whisk).

Place the pan on the heat and simmer, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, until the cream thickens. Take off the stove and add the butter. Keep on stirring from time to time as the cream cools so as to prevent a skin from forming.

My notes:

To prevent a skin from forming, what I do and that is to place a piece of baking paper or cling film on the surface. Leave the custard to cool and chill it before using. Omit the butter and instead you could whip about 150ml cream and fold a little at the time into the cold custard.

Julia Child’s crème pâtissière:

1 cup sugar

5 egg yolks

½ cup plain flour

2 cups boiling milk

1 tablepoon butter

1½ tablepoons vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating for 2–3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon.

Beat in the flour, then gradually pour the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets, beating continually.

Pour the mixture into a heavy saucepan, and set it over moderately high heat. Using a wire whisk, stir continually, reaching all over the bottom of the pan.

As the sauce comes to a boil, it will get lumpy, but will smooth out as you beat it. Once the mixture comes to a boil, continue

beating over moderately low heat for 2–3 minutes to cook the flour; be careful not to scorch the bottom (regulate the heat down, and keep stirring!).

Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and the vanilla.

Dolcetti window

Dolcetti is a Sicilian inspired pasticceria focused on bringing the tradition of sharing exquisite sweets with family and friends to Melbourne.

A few of the other posts on my blog about Dolcetti and Marianna:

Giugiulena

Christmas Dolci and Dolcetti and Pistachio Shortbread

Christmas at Dolcetti in 2014 (and Recipe for Spicchiteddi – Sicilian Biscuits)

Zeppole, Fried Sweets

Dolcetti is a Sicilian inspired pasticceria focused on bringing the tradition of sharing exquisite sweets with family and friends to Melbourne.

Marianna’s website: Dolcetti

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “MILLEFOGLIE or Millefeuille and CREMA PASTICCIERA or crème pâtissière”

  1. I’m like you — I don’t care for overly sweet desserts. The millefoglie sounds perfect for my taste. I remember many years ago my mamma made a dessert with layers of pastry and almond cream. She didn’t have a recipe and she just made it from a pastry she had tasted in Italy. I don’t remember if she gave it a name but this is exactly what she made. Thank you for reminding me of a very special memory. I am going to make this — now I have to try to find a recipe I want to make — do you have a favorite?

  2. Marisa, no I do not have a favourite recipe, but there are plenty for flaky pastry and for almond cream, even on the web. I would not just add almond essence – I would use ground almonds in the custard instead.

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