Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon is a classic puff pastry strawberry dessert with layers of pastry, pastry cream, whipped cream, strawberries, and chocolate ganache.

Strawberry season is one of the very best parts of spring, isn’t it? I always forget just how juicy and sunny-sweet a perfectly red, ripe strawberry can be.

Strawberry Napoleon is a perfect symphony of layered textures and flavors, with flaky, buttery puff pastry, lightly sweetened and creamy pastry cream and whipped cream, tart and bright berries, and bitter darkness from the ganache. There’s no better way to showcase strawberries in a dessert, if you can stop eating them whole long enough to get baking!

This year I’m hoping to get enough strawberries from our backyard garden to make this with homegrown strawberries. I think I’ll have to fight my boys to get enough berries saved up–they usually don’t even make it to the house uneaten. I’ll report back on that later in the season.

A strawberry napoleon dessert with layers of puff pastry, pastry cream, whipping cream, fresh strawberries, and chocolate ganache.

Before We Begin…. {Recipe Tips, Notes, and Various Thoughts}

  • While this is a stunning dessert, it doesn’t have to be a stressful one! You can prepare the pastry cream, chocolate ganache and puff pastry ahead of time. I’ve included how long each item will keep with it’s instructions below.
  • You can absolutely use store-bought puff pastry–it’s quick and easy! Or, if you’ve got just 15 extra minutes, you can make your own with this Easy Puff Pastry Recipe.
  • If you stabilize your whipped cream (Click here to learn how), it can also be made up to 3-4 days ahead of time.
  • Slice the strawberries and assemble the napoleon the day you plan to serve it.
  • This recipe makes one 5″x10″ strawberry napoleon, which makes about 6 servings. You can easily double ingredients to make more napoleons if you need to feed more people.
  • If you’d like to look at a more in-depth post on each of the layers, scroll to the bottom of the post where I’ve linked the related recipe posts.
A strawberry napoleon dessert with layers of puff pastry, pastry cream, whipping cream, fresh strawberries, and chocolate ganache.

How to Make Strawberry Napoleon

Preparing the Puff Pastry

(Make up to 5 Days Before Serving, Bake the Day of Serving)

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 425°F.
  • Cut a 10″x15″ sheet of puff pastry into thirds. You’ll have three pieces that should be 5″x10″ each.
  • Place each piece of pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet with several inches between each piece of pastry. Lay another sheet of parchment on top of the pastry, then set a heavy baking sheet on top of it. This keeps the puff pastry from puffing as high.
  • Bake the puff pastry for 10-15 minutes, or until the puff pastry is a deep golden brown.

Preparing the Pastry Cream

(Make up to 5 Days Before Serving)

Pastry cream is a rich custard that’s thickened with eggs. Follow the instructions carefully to avoid scorched, split, or curdled pastry cream. Also, be careful when tempering the eggs (the process of slowly heating them with steaming milk). If you heat them too quickly, you’ll end up with bits of scrambled egg in your finished cream. And while a sieve can take care of most of that, it’s better to avoid as much as possible.

  • Begin by setting out and prepping all of your ingredients to avoid something scorching when you get to the next step. Also, set out a clean bowl with a fine mesh sieve placed over it.
  • Separate the egg yolks and whites and put the yolks in a bowl. Whisk in the sugar, salt, and flour into the yolks until you have a thick, smooth paste that has lightened to a pale yellow–this will take 3-4 minutes by hand.
  • Bring the milk to a simmer over medium-low heat, then remove it from the heat. Slowly pour a trickle into the egg yolks while whisking to warm the yolks slowly and prevent them from curdling or scrambling.
  • Return the entire mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat again, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and allow it to cook and bubble for another 2-3 minutes, or until it’s thickened.
  • Remove it from the stovetop and pour the pastry cream through the sieve into the bowl beneath to catch any bits of cooked egg yolk.
  • Quickly stir in the butter and vanilla extract or paste until the butter has completely melted.
  • Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the top of the cream and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 4-6 hours.
A strawberry napoleon dessert with layers of puff pastry, pastry cream, whipping cream, fresh strawberries, and chocolate ganache.

Preparing the Whipped Cream

(Make up to 5 Days Before Serving if Stabilized)

Whipped cream is amazing and delicious no matter what and adds such a nice, airy layer to this napoleon. However, regular whipped cream will start to deflate or “weep” rather quickly. To make the whipped cream ahead of time, you can follow a process called stabilizing, which is adding a small amount of unflavored gelatin to keep the whipped cream fluffy for several days. Click here for instructions on how to prepare stabilized whipped cream.

  • Place 2 cups of cold whipping cream in a clean bowl (the cream may whip better if the bowl is chilled as well, thought it’s not necessary).
  • Add in 2-4 Tbsp. of powdered sugar, depending on how sweet you want it, as well as 2 tsp. of vanilla extract.
  • Use an electric mixer to whip the cream until it reaches stiff peak stage.
  • Chill the whipped cream until you’re ready to use it.

Preparing the Strawberries

(Slice the Day of Serving)

  • Prepare 1 pound of strawberries by washing and slicing them.
  • If you wish, you can leave a few whole for the top and slice thinly from the bottom, leaving them barely attached at the top. Fan out the slices on the top layer.

Preparing the Chocolate Ganache

(Make up to 7 Days Before Serving)

  • Place 1 cup (140 g) of chopped dark or semi-sweet chocolate in a bowl.
  • Pour 1 cup (8 oz.) of steaming whipping cream over it and allow it to sit for ten minutes.
  • Add a generous pinch of salt to the ganache, then stir it until it comes together in a smooth sauce. It will be thin at first, but will thicken to a sauce as it cools.
A slice of strawberry napoleon dessert with layers of puff pastry, pastry cream, whipping cream, fresh strawberries, and chocolate ganache.

Assembling the Layers:

  • On the day you wish to make the napoleon, bake the puff pastry and slice the strawberries.
  • Gather all of the layer ingredients together, along with the platter you will be assembling on.
  • Smear a bit of ganache on the plate under where the first pastry layer will be placed. This helps the pastry not slide around when you move your finished dessert.
  • Place 1 piece of pastry on the plate, then spread 1/3-1/2 cup of pastry cream over it. You can decide how much you want on there, but avoid putting on too much as it may cause other layers on top to slide off.
  • Spread a layer of whipped cream over the pastry cream.
  • Place sliced strawberries on top of the whipped cream.
  • Drizzle ganache over the strawberries.
  • Repeat the steps two more times with the remaining pieces of pastry.
  • Refrigerate the puff pastry dessert until it’s time to serve, then cut it into slices.
  • Serve it with extra whipped cream and gananche.
A strawberry napoleon dessert with layers of puff pastry, pastry cream, whipping cream, fresh strawberries, and chocolate ganache.

For More In-Depth Posts on the Layers, Check Out These Posts:

Creamy, thick, classic pastry cream on a spoon.
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A strawberry napoleon dessert with layers of puff pastry, pastry cream, whipping cream, fresh strawberries, and chocolate ganache.

Strawberry Napoleon


  • Author: Rebecca Neidhart
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 1 large napoleon, 6 servings 1x

Description

Strawberry Napoleon is a classic puff pastry strawberry dessert with layers of pastry, pastry cream, whipped cream, strawberries, and chocolate ganache.


Ingredients

Scale

For the Puff Pastry:

For the Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups (16 oz.) whole milk
  • 1/3 cup (67 g) white sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp. (24 g) all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

For the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 24 Tbsp. powdered sugar, to taste
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Strawberries:

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries

For the Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup (8 oz.) whipping cream
  • 1 cup (140 g) chopped dark or semisweet chocolate

Instructions

For the Puff Pastry:

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 425°F.
  • Cut a 10″x15″ sheet of puff pastry into thirds. You’ll have three pieces that should be 5″x10″ each.
  • Place each piece of pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet with several inches between each piece of pastry. Lay another sheet of parchment on top of the pastry, then set a heavy baking sheet on top of it.
  • Bake the puff pastry for 10-15 minutes, or until the puff pastry is a deep golden brown.

For the Pastry Cream:

  • Begin by setting out and prepping all of your ingredients to avoid something scorching when you get to the next step. Also, set out a clean bowl with a fine mesh sieve placed over it.
  • Separate the egg yolks and whites and put the yolks in a bowl. Whisk in the sugar, salt, and flour into the yolks until you have a thick, smooth paste that has lightened to a pale yellow–this will take 3-4 minutes by hand.
  • Bring the milk to a simmer over medium-low heat, then remove it from the heat. Slowly pour a trickle into the egg yolks while whisking to warm the yolks slowly and prevent them from curdling or scrambling.
  • Return the entire mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat again, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and allow it to cook and bubble for another 2-3 minutes, or until it’s thickened.
  • Remove it from the stovetop and pour the pastry cream through the sieve into the bowl beneath to catch any bits of cooked egg yolk.
  • Quickly stir in the butter and vanilla extract or paste until the butter has completely melted.
  • Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the top of the cream and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 4-6 hours.

For the Whipped Cream:

For the Strawberries:

  • Prepare 1 pound of strawberries by washing and slicing them.
  • If you wish, you can leave a few whole for the top and slice thinly from the bottom, leaving them barely attached at the top. Fan out the slices on the top layer.

For the Chocolate Ganache:

  • Place 1 cup (140 g) of chopped dark or semi-sweet chocolate in a bowl. Pour 1 cup (8 oz.) of steaming whipping cream over it and allow it to sit for ten minutes.
  • Add a generous pinch of salt to the ganache, then stir it until it comes together in a smooth sauce. It will be thin at first but will thicken to a sauce as it cools.

Assembling the Layers:

  • On the day you wish to make the napoleon, bake the puff pastry and slice the strawberries.
  • Gather all of the layer ingredients together, along with the platter you will be assembling on. Smear a bit of ganache on the plate under where the first pastry layer will be placed. This helps the pastry not slide around when you move your finished dessert.
  • Place 1 piece of pastry on the plate, then spread 1/3-1/2 cup of pastry cream over it. You can decide how much you want on there, but avoid putting on too much as it may cause other layers on top to slide off.
  • Spread a layer of whipped cream over the pastry cream. Place sliced strawberries on top of the whipped cream. Drizzle ganache over them.
  • Repeat the steps two more times with the remaining pieces of pastry. Refrigerate the puff pastry dessert until it’s time to serve, then cut it into slices.
  • Serve it with extra whipped cream and gananche.
  • Category: Pastry
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: strawberry napoleon, strawberry puff pastry dessert, strawberry dessert, puff pastry dessert

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