This Greek version of the classic French Napoleon uses phyllo sheets (instead of puff pastry) that are coated with a butter-honey mixture and baked to crisp, flaky perfection. We then layered them with pastry cream, berries, and almond slices, while offering additional garnish options (see this week's photo on our Home page).
1. Defrost the phyllo in the refrigerator overnight and let stand at room temperature 1 hour before using (see our blog Fillo (phyllo)—Learn to work with it and bake beautifully for more tips).
3. The phyllo layers, pastry cream, and whipped cream can be prepped ahead of time, making assembly quick and easy when you’re ready to serve.
2. To stretch the servings, make these with two or three layers of phyllo stacks instead of four.
PREP TIME: 25 minutes, plus standing and chilling
BAKING TIME: 12 minutes
COOKING TIME: 10 minutes
MAKES: 4 pastries (or up to 6 if you make fewer phyllo layers)
1/4 cup butter or olive oil, plus more for brushing baking sheets
2 tablespoons thyme honey
8 sheets #5 or #4 (14-by-18-inch) phyllo dough, thawed, at room temperature
4 cups whole milk, divided
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
5 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
2 pints fresh berries (if using strawberries, hulled and sliced)
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)
About 1/4 cup toasted almond slices, for garnish
Chocolate, melted, for drizzling (optional)
1. Make phyllo layers: Heat oven to 350°F and arrange 2 racks in center. Brush 2 large rimmed heavy-duty baking sheets with butter or olive oil or line with parchment paper. Heat butter/olive oil and honey together, stirring, just until honey has dissolved; set aside. Stack the phyllo sheets and, using a sharp knife, cut in half crosswise, then stack sheets. On work surface, brush 1 phyllo half-sheet with butter mixture. Layer another half-sheet on top and repeat brushing and layering to form a stack of 4 half-sheets, brushing the top layer with butter mixture. Repeat with the remaining half-sheets to form 3 more stacks. Cut each of the stacks into 4 equal-sized rectangles or triangles to make a total of 16 stacks. Transfer the stacks to the prepared baking sheets and bake 8 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. (Can be made ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.)
2. Meanwhile, make pastry cream: In a large saucepan, combine 3 1/2 cups milk and 1/2 cup sugar. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. In a cup, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup milk and the cornstarch until completely dissolved, then whisk into the egg-yolk mixture until completely combined; set aside but whisk again to combine just before adding to milk mixture in step 3.
3. Bring the milk mixture in the saucepan to a boil over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately but gradually whisk in the egg-yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return to medium heat and whisk constantly until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter until melted. Stir in the extracts. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap (this will keep a skin from forming on top). Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
4. Make whipped cream (for pastry cream): In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream to soft peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract and confectioners’ sugar just to stiff peaks. (Do not over-beat as the cream will then appear curdled and will resemble butter.) Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 2 days).
5. Assemble: Remove the cream from the refrigerator and stir with a spatula until fluffy. Fold in the whipped cream until combined well.
6. Arrange 4 phyllo stacks on serving plates or a platter and, using a spatula, spread some of the pastry cream over each, then top with some of the berries. Repeat until you have 3 or 4 layers of phyllo, cream, and berries (if you do 3 layers, you'll have extra to make another pastry). Lightly dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. (If you have extra cream, spread the remaining cream over the top of each.) Top with almond slices and drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired. (Can be made up to 2 hours ahead. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve.)
Recipe copyright © Kukla's Kouzina: A Gourmet Journey~Greek Island Style, kuklaskouzina.com
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