Crisp flaky layers of puff pastry with vanilla cream & strawberries, sprinkled with lemon zest & powdered sugar. Easy delicious Strawberry Lemon Napoleon!
Strawberry Napoleon with Lemon Zest and Vanilla Cream
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To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” -Oscar Wilde
This post is dedicated to my tribe. Through the thick and the thin, you ladies have kept me going. And to Christa and Jax; you are dear and true to me.
Inner Chaos = Dessert
You may have noticed I get pretty down and dirty and real in all my dessert posts. I’m not really sure why I do this; I think it is because when the darkness and chaos are closing in and making me feel smothered and empty inside; I turn to baking, sweets and art.
Baking is art, it is an expression of what’s trying to break through the darkness. “Out of the darkness comes light”. Out of the chaos comes dessert. Haha!
Speaking of art; have you ever painted? I used to be a pessimist or critic when it came to abstract art. I thought it was just people slopping paint onto a canvas, giving it a weird name like “now the rats in my heart” and selling it for ridiculous sums of money.
However, about a year ago I was asked to photograph some art pieces done by a local artist and personal friend of mine; they were the first pieces of abstract art that I felt connected with. After experiencing true emotional pain and heartbreak, suddenly I could then see the emotion in her art. I asked her to teach me about art.
I suck at art y’all; Haha! But for real, I truly am terrible at painting. I have no talent whatsoever in the area of abstract art. The ideas and the emotions are raw and all there; but when I try to put the feelings to canvas it doesn’t translate. Painting however has become a quiet soul calming activity for me.
I’m still standing
Isn’t this painting gorgeous?! Look close. I’m in love! Do you see the cracks in the heart? Do you see the drips and the textures? Look some more! Do you see the gold leaf touching up against the dark and the light? The light WITHIN the light and the dark WITHIN the dark? The myriad of colors and textures all working together. Ah…
My dear friend Christa is the artist. She said she painted it to represent me; it’s name is “I’m still standing”, and when I look at it, I feel seen. Seen, felt, heard, and something more; understood. To think that something like this, something so beautiful and heartfelt could have been inspired by me? It puts me to tears. I feel worthwhile if only for a moment.
Y’all, I love this painting dearly and I love my friend for seeing me.
When I see myself I see the broken ugly parts of me. When my true friend looks at me, she also sees the broken, dark areas;
Do you see the dark throughout the painting? It’s just making the painting more beautiful though isn’t it!
She sees my dark; and she also see’s that I am still standing. Christa sees the light and beauty coming forth and shining through despite and perhaps even because of the darkness.
Knowing the dark, but seeing the light.
Isn’t that what makes a true friend? Let me explain; I have this beautiful friend Jax. When I look at Jax I see her gorgeous hair, her cute body, and her beautiful eyes. However, even more I see the amazing girl inside; I see the way Jax is such an incredible mother, admiration feels me at her dedication in everything she puts her mind to, I see her fiery spirit and her backbone of steel. I see her. She is all that I wish I could be.
When Jax looks in the mirror she sees the areas she feels most self conscious about. Jax told me when she sees pictures of herself all she can see is “my fat legs… my double chin… my giant butt… my fat round face… and my ever growing belly.”
YOU deserve YOUR friendship!
I may be wrong, but I think we are each our own worst enemy.
Buddha once said “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve YOUR love and affection.”
Y’all that is pure TRUTH. I think that too many people overvalue the things they are not. What’s that saying? “The grass is always greener.” And they undervalue the things they are.
You may remember from my Marshmallow Cookie Crumble Brownies post that I often feel not enough. That I am trying very hard to accept my imperfections. Dear Reader, I would like to challenge you to do the same.
Perfect in our Imperfections
Tell me, what are your imperfections? What is it you see when you look in the mirror? I hope you see the good, however I truly understand if that’s not what you’re seeing or feeling.
Now, I would like to challenge you to tell me what you would see in yourself if you were your own true friend? Look at yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you. Tell me friend, what is in you that makes it possible for those who can see your broken parts to also see that you’re still standing, and think you’re beautiful for it?
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen… You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
That is my challenge for you dear Reader; Try approving of yourself and see what happens!
Strawberry Lemon Napoleon
Also you should approve of this amazing Strawberry Lemon Napoleon! Because even it thinks that it is beautiful and divine and wonderful. Haha! For real though…
Some cool tricks you should know, that I learned from Chef Thomas Keller’s book Bouchon Bakery, about making a Napoleon:
- Setting a second sheet pan atop the sheets of puff pastry is not completely necessary. We do that to keep the puff pastry from puffing up in different areas at different heights. Its completely about good-looks and uniformity, however it doesn’t affect the flavor of the napoleon at all.
- Next, Puff pastry has a tendency to get soggy when you top it with a cream of filling. Brushing the puff pastry down with corn syrup in the last little bit of cooking creates a sealant of sorts and makes it so your Napoleon wont get soggy for at least 3-4 hours after assembly.
- When you go to cut your Napoleon after assembly; be warned! There is a good chance the fillings will squeeze out. My suggestion? Either pre-cut the slices before assembling your napoleon, OR, use a sharp serrated knife and hold it at an angle where the tip is facing downward, as you slowly saw back and forth without applying too much pressure (this is what I do and it works beautifully!).
- Finally, Don’t sprinkle with the powder sugar until right before serving, otherwise the strawberries will dissolve the sugar.
Enough talk, let’s eat!
Recipe for Strawberry Lemon Napoleon:
- 1 sheet Puff Pastry, cut down the middle in exact half (so that you now have two long rectangles rather than one square).
- 2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
- 2 tsp Brown Sugar
- 1 5+ oz box Instant Vanilla Pudding
- 1.5 cup milk
- 1 TBS Lemon Juice
- 1 container Cool Whip
- 1-2 cups Strawberries, washed and cut into chunks
- Zest from 1 Lemon
- Powdered Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350
- On a baking sheet topped with parchment paper, lay your puff pastry sheets.
- Cover puff pastries with a second sheet of parchment paper, and top with a second baking sheet.
- Bake for 18 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and brush the top of each pastry with 1 tablespoon of Light Corn Syrup each.
- Place back in the oven for 6-7 more minutes until puff pastries are golden brown ad corn syrup is bubbly.
- Immediately sprinkle each sheet with a small amount of brown sugar and salt.
- Let cool.
- Combine Powder Instant Pudding mix with 1.5 cups milk and the lemon juice. Whisk very well.
- Spoon all together with cool whip.
- Pipe and slather filling onto one pastry sheet. Sprinkle with half of the lemon zest.
- Cover with second pastry sheet.
- Pipe or slather second half of Vanilla Cream onto second pastry sheet.
- Top with Strawberries.
- Sprinkle with Lemon Zest and Powdered Sugar.
Be a LOVE and share this awesome and super easy Napoleon recipe!