Millefeuille With Raspberries, Pistachio And Basil
Millefeuille, translated as 'thousand sheets', is one of the classic French pastries first described in the late 18th century. In its original form, it contained jam and marmalade, but this gradually got replaced with the pastry cream we know know.
There are numerous variations around the world, notably vanilla slice or custard slice and I certainly remember gorging myself on these as a kid...maybe a little too much ;-).
The version I make here looks a bit fancy but it's really simple to put together and the combination of fresh raspberries and pastry cream infused with pistachios and basil is a real winner.
If you're unsure about making your own puff or don't have time, a good quality shop bought one will do just as well. I'll do a blog post of making your own puff pastry soon.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE 4
1 quantity of puff pastry, approximately 350g (for ease, you can buy Jus-Roll sells pre-rolled packets of 320g)
For The Pastry Cream
250ml of full fat milk
3 eggs yolks
70g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
Preheat oven to 190c normal oven, 175c gas.
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of 3mm, and lay on a baking tray lined with parchment (obviously if you're using the pre-rolled pastry simply unfold). Sprinkle a thin layer of caster sugar over the pastry to give it a bit of caramelisation and flavour as it cooks, and place another layer of parchment on top of this, followed by a baking tray. The idea is to cook the pastry while at the same time weighing it down so that it doesn't puff up, resulting in a delicate, thin layer that is still slightly 'puffy'.
Cook the pastry for 20 mins, take the tray out of the oven and check how the pastry's doing. If it looks like it's puffed up then gently press down on the top baking tray to compact it again.
Put the pastry back in the oven for another 10 mins without the top baking tray and parchment so that it browns up. Again, if the pastry puffs up, put the second tray on top and press down.
Once cooked, take the pastry out and allow it cool completely.
To make the pastry cream, whisk up the eggs, sugar, cornflour and vanilla in a bowl. Bring the milk to the boil and pour into the egg mixture, whisking all the time. Pour this mixture back in to the saucepan and cook for another 5 mins without letting it boil. Finally mix in the butter. Set aside to cool a little - to this we'll add some basil syrup and pistachio paste.
For the basil syrup, place the leaves and stems (saving the smallest leaves for decoration) in a saucepan with 150g of caster sugar and 75ml of water. Blanch for 30 seconds then blitz the mixture with a stick blender or mini processor. Sieve this and set aside.
Finely chop 15g of the nuts and add these to the pastry cream along with basil syrup (saving a couple of tablespoons for when you plate the dish). Scoop into a piping bag.
Cut the cooled pastry in to rectangular portions approximately 14 cms long. For the width use the size of your raspberries as a guide - you want the width to equal about 2.5 raspberries. You want a total of 12 rectangles.
Take four of the rectangles, sprinkle caster sugar and caramelise the top with a blow torch.
To build the millefeuille, plate a layer of pastry. Pipe a small amount of cream in to the base of each raspberry and stick them down. Pipe more cream between the rows of raspberries and on top. Place another layer of pastry on top and repeat with the raspberries and pastry and cream. Don't go too crazy with the pastry cream as it could splurge out with the weight of the layers above.
Place the final caramelised layer on top. Decorate with sugared pistachios, raspberries, basil syrup and small basil leaves.
Dive in and enjoy!