This is a spin on the classic Napoleon; ours is “In Love”. The “Love” comes from the pistachio, mastic (Mastiha), and rose flavors, which are some of our favorite Love ingredients. This recipe may seem advanced, but even the novice cook will be able to take it on. You can make some of the recipe ahead of time, so as to distribute the workload in preparation of the big day. However, although there are 3 parts to its preparation, it does not take an excessive amount of time. Read through the recipe ahead of time so as to plan your cooking strategy.
For the Mastiha Pastry Cream:
2 cups half and half
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon Mastiha, ground with a pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
For the Pistachio Praline:
1 cup raw shelled pistachios
½ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons water
1 package store-bought puff pastry
Flour for dusting
¼ cup rose petal jam
1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk, whisked together
A pastry brush
Make the Mastiha pastry cream by heating up the half and half in a small saucepan along with one of the tablespoons of sugar. Just heat until steam rises from the top. Meanwhile, beat the yolks with the sugar until the yolks turn a pale yellow and the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the cornstarch and flour. Slowly pour a few spoonfuls of the milk over the yolk/sugar mixture and whisk to temper. Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan with milk, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and get it all out. Bring the liquid to a simmer and whisk constantly, so that the mixture doesn’t form clumps, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the powdered Mastiha and rose water. Strain the pastry cream into a bowl set over an ice bath and stir to cool. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and store in the fridge until cold and set. The pastry cream will thicken slightly once it is cold, so keep that in mind when you are cooking it down.
While the pastry cream is cooling, make the Pistachio Praline. Lightly toast the pistachios and allow to cool. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Keep the pistachios close together and evenly distributed, as you will pour caramel over them. Place the sugar in a small saucepan with the 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer and allow the sugar to caramelize. Lightly brush down any sugar that gets stuck on the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization. Once the sugar is a deep, rich brown (you can test this by spooning a small amount on a white plate) pour over the toasted pistachios. It might seem like it takes a long time for the sugar to caramelize, but once it gets dark, it changes very quickly, so you must pay close attention. Once the pistachio/caramel becomes hard, you can either chop it with a sharp knife or grind in a food processor until it is a coarse crumble.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Roll out the store bought pastry dough according to the instructions on the package. You will want it to be about ¼” thick when you bake it.
Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out 8 heart shaped pieces of dough. Set on a slightly greased baking sheet and lightly brush with the egg wash (1 whole egg beat with 1 tablespoon of milk). This is not necessary, but it makes the final result much more attractive. Cover the hearts with a piece of parchment or wax paper and set a baking rack or cooling rack with a ledge over the tray, so that the pastry will only rise to a certain height.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the rack and top layer of paper and return to the oven at 350°F for an additional 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the pastries, because everyone’s oven is different.
Heat the rose petal jam slightly with a tablespoon of water, and strain to remove the petals. Now you have your rose petal glaze. While the glaze is still warm, brush the top of each puff heart with it and sprinkle the pistachio praline over top. Dollop a spoonful or so of mastic pastry cream in the center of four of the hearts, and top with the remaining 4 puff hearts. Lightly press down to distribute the pastry cream, but do not break your hearts (pun intended!). Keep cool until ready to serve.
Makes 4 Napoleons “In Love”.
Note: You can make the mastic pastry cream 1 day ahead and the pistachio praline up to 2 days ahead. Bake the puff pastry the day of, so as to keep it as fresh as possible.
Assemble and serve the day of.