Rustic Neapolitan

Traditional Neapolitan desserts feature a royal icing glaze with egg whites. This recipe uses a simple glaze that gives the Neapolitan a more rustic appearance. Each piece is pre-cut making it easier to prepare clean individual dessert portions. The pastry cream can be made ahead of time and assembly can easily be done the day you plan to serve these desserts.

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1 flat sheet puff pastry
1 cup pastry cream
1 cup glaze

Ingredients – Glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 drops black food coloring

Ingredients – Pastry Cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cups 2% milk
1/2 cup 35% cream
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start by making the pastry cream filling. Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk together the milk, cream, and egg yolks in a measuring cup. Add the egg mixture along with the butter into a saucepan and bring to a boil. While whisking, add the sugar and the cornstarch and stir continuously until the mixture thickens to a pudding consistency. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the pastry cream to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and ready to assemble (note: the pastry cream can be made ahead of time and stored for up to 2 days).

Prepare the puff pastry by preheating your oven to 400°F and lining a baking sheet with a silicone mat. Cut each puff pastry sheet into 16 equal pieces (approximately 2” x 3” in size) and place them on the baking sheet. Score the dough with the tines of a fork and cover with a sheet of parchment paper. Place three sheets of aluminum foil over the parchment paper and nest another baking sheet on top to apply pressure. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Take off the top pan, aluminum foil, and parchment paper and return to the oven. Bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown and crunchy. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before filling and frosting.

Prepare the glaze by mixing together the sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. Transfer 1/4 of the glaze into another bowl and add the food coloring. Transfer the glazes into piping bags and, when ready to frost, cut the end off with scissors. To assemble, place one piece of puff pastry on the bottom and pipe the pastry cream onto the square. Top with another square of puff pastry. Glaze first with the white glaze and then the black glaze, creating a drizzle pattern.

Makes 8 Neapolitan desserts.

Note: If you want a traditional three-layer Neapolitan, then bake the dough with the added weight for 20 minutes and then for 10 minutes uncovered. This will result in a flatter puff pastry. For the traditional royal icing, beat 2 egg whites, 1 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Reserve 1/4 of the icing and blend in the food coloring. Place the pieces on a rack sitting on top of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this will catch any glaze that falls down). Pour the white icing over the entire surface of the Neapolitan pieces and then immediately drizzle the black in parallel vertical lines across the top. Use a toothpick or knife to alternately pull the lines across horizontally, creating the traditional pattern.

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