It's blackberry season! Did you know that blackberries are related to roses? I did not, until just now, when I was searching for things to write about blakberries. I also just learned that blackberries are not true berries, according to the scientific definition (a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary, examples being grapes, avocado, persimmons and pumpkins).
Now, why are these called "Napoleons"? The traditional name for this type of French dessert is "mille-feuille" which translates to "1,000 sheets." This is because these desserts include puff pastry, which is made of many thin, alternating layers of dough and fat (butter). Though the origin of the dessert is unknown, it seems to have little or nothing to do with the infamous emperor, and more likely to have derived from the adjective "napolitain," meaning "from Naples," a city in Italy.
We thought these were perfect for a light summer dessert. Light, flaky pastry with whipped cream mousse and summer berries — if that doesn't say "summer," I don't know what does. The crunch of the baked pastry contrasts with the sweet, creamy mousse. The sweet mousse cuts the tanginess of the berries and preserves just a little bit. I absolutely loved these.
Blackberry Napoleons with Mascarpone Mousse
Slightly adapted from Epicurious
Yield: 12 pastries
- 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 6 ounces mascarpone cheese*
- ¾ cup powdered sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup whipping cream
- 12 to 16 ounces blackberries
- ½ cup blackberry preserves
- Fresh mint sprigs for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Generously sprinkle flour over a clean work surface. Lay the puff pastry on the flour, and roll the sheet out to 14 by 10 inches.
- Using a pizza slicer, cut the dough into twelve 3 ½-inch by 3 ½-inch squares. Discard any scraps.
- Using a fork, dock (prick holes) all over each square. Sift ¼ cup of the powdered sugar over the squares. Gently transfer the squares to the baking sheets, 6 squares per sheet.
- Bake for 12 minutes, spinning pans 180 degrees and switching the sheet pan on the bottom shelf to the top and vice versa (ensuring the squares bake evenly in case of hot or cold spots in your oven).
- Remove and let cool completely.
- In a small mixing bowl, beat together the mascarpone cheese, another ¼ cup of the sugar and the vanilla.
- In a second, medium-sized chilled mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream until medium to stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone cheese mixture in three batches. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Place the preserves in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Warm just until melted.
- Place the blackberries in a medium mixing bowl and pour the melted preserves over, and toss to coat. Let cool.
- Just before ready to serve, place about ¼ cup of mousse on each of six squares. Place 4 to 6 berries atop each mound of mousse. Place another dollop of mousse on top of the berries.
- Sift the remaining ¼ cup of powdered sugar over the remaining 6 squares, and sandwich on top of the mousse and berries.
- Top with a mint leaf and any remaining berries. Serve immediately.