Shatteringly crisp, buttery pastries, glazed with lemon syrup, filled with an almond and vanilla cream and fresh strawberries: what is not to love?
This is one of my favourite summer desserts and is what I think is a stunning finale to any meal. They are certainly fantastic served as part of Afternoon Tea. Eaten at any time of day, though, without excuses, and a sense of true happiness will take hold……
About these pastries
These pastries are so easy and quick to make, especially if using bought puff pastry. However, I often make up a batch of short-cut puff pastry (rough-puff) which is perfect here. The recipe for this is here.
Rather than go for crème pâtissière, a traditional pastry cream, this cream is made up in moments and is simply double cream, vanilla, icing sugar and ground almonds. The almonds give a nice texture and a great flavour to the cream.
I often make these as one layer mini tarts, sometimes going for smaller circles of pastry and topped with one strawberry, but they are even more special when stacked as two layers for millefeuilles.
Top tip: how to get the best crisp pastry discs
You can just bake the circles of pastry as they are until they are cooked through, but they rise too much for these desserts, for which you want thin, very crisp layers of pastry.
The trick here is to start the baking as they are, but then after about 7 minutes, once they have started to rise, place a baking sheet on top of them to weigh them down. This way, the wafer-thin layers in the puff pastry will have separated enough but the sheet on top prevents them from rising to much, resulting in a thin and shatteringly crisp disc of pastry.
Recipe: strawberry millefeuille pastries
- 500g all-butter puff pastry (an easier short-cut puff pastry recipe is here)
- a few teaspoons caster sugar
- 300ml double cream
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon best quality vanilla extract
- 60g ground almonds (you can grind them further for a smoother cream if you prefer)
- juice and chopped peel of 1 lemon,
- 200ml water
- 50g caster sugar
- fresh strawberries, some whole and some chopped
- fresh mint
You will also need 2 baking sheets, the same size, one base-lined with baking parchment and you need a second sheet of parchment
(1) Roll out the pastry thinly and cut out discs to whatever size you like: I tend to go for about 6cm diameter. Sprinkle caster sugar over the top.
(2) Prick all over with a fork and place on the baking parchment. Place the second sheet of parchment on top and place the other baking sheet on top: this prevents the pastry from rising too much, giving crisp wafery biscuits.
(3) Bake at 190C (fan) for about 15 minutes and remove the top baking sheet along with the parchment. Cook for a further 5 minutes: you will have crisp, slightly caramelised discs of pastry.
(4) For the filling, whisk the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract until it just holds its shape. Fold in the ground almonds.
(5) For the lemon syrup, put the ingredients into a pan and bring to a simmer, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until reduced and slightly syrupy.
Note: this makes more syrup than you need but it will store in an airtight jar in the fridge for several weeks.
(6) To assemble, take a cooled pastry disc and spoon or pipe over the almond cream. Drizzle over about teaspoon of the lemon syrup and place a second pastry disc on top. Spoon or pipe a little more almond cream and top with a strawberry (or several smaller strawberries). Drizzle over a little more lemon syrup and a small amount of fresh mint.