As far as desserts go, I think the award for the most pretentious goes to the Napoleon aka Mille-feuille. First of all, it is impossible to eat without much fuss. Using a fork to take cut off a piece pushes out all the custard filling and destroying any semblance of the neat flaky sheets alternately layered with vanilla custard.
Second, much like tiramisu, each component is made separately and combined for the final product. The puff pastry dough is baked until golden brown while the vanilla custard is mixed and cooled. Everything is assembled an hour before serving.
But unlike tiramisu, this dessert is doesn’t get better with time. The layers only gets soggier. I’ve read that four hours is the recommended maximum time to keep one around. But knowing us especially with this being one of Paul’s favorite desserts along with Boston cream pie, spritz cookies, spice cake, etc., it doesn’t have much of a chance to stay around for very long. At least at my house.
Variations of the recipe include substituting vanilla custard with sweetened whipped cream or adding fruit preserves. A version of the recipe can be found here with your substitutions easily made.
That’s why I would never dare make mille-feuille! The store-bought ones are as good…and look prettier (like they’ve been through several dress rehearsals). 🙂
They are so pretty in the store! Actually most French desserts are so pretty it’s a shame to eat. But then my stomach has other intentions.