Monday, June 25, 2007

Sweet Strawberry Sin - Mille Feuille

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Well, my variation of the Mille Feuille.

There are certainly many pastries and desserts I love and regular readers of this blog will know that I do have a very sweet tooth. However, I would say I have a kind of top 5 (ummm ... top 10, 15, 20!) and if I was ever to kick the bucket and had one last wish, I think I would definitely wish to have all my top 5 (10, 15, 20) spread out in front of me so I could indulge my sweet tooth one last time. Without a guilty conscious, no repents and no calorie counting.

One of the items on the table would be the Mille Feuille. I just love this flaky cream filled pastry. Layer upon layer of delicious bites. As I spent a larger part of my younger life growing up in some grand hotels with excellent cuisine, I also was lucky enough to be able to savor some great desserts. The Swiss pastry chef at the Sheraton in Doha was an ace! He made the most tempting Mille Fueille ever. It was his chocolate Mille Fueille that had me go into a frenzy every time. One of the best moments of my life was when he surprised me on my 16th birthday with a Mille Fueille cake. It was incredible.

So, when The Domestic Goddess told us to make The Sweetest Thing to satisfy our craving for this round of Sugar High Friday, which actually is back home with its creator, I kind of already had a good idea of what I would be doing - a chocolate Mille Fueille.

OK, so you all are probably looking at the picture and thinking "Where did she hide that chocolate?" Right? Well don't bother looking - because there is no chocolate there.

I decided to play around a little. I thought I can do chocolate anytime, but it would be such a shame not to use the bounties of summer. Fresh fruit and berries were literally shouting at me to be creative with them. The puff pastry was covered thanks to this recipe. I had plenty left over in the freezer. With a rough idea in my mind I set of to the Farmers Market.

I returned with a huge crate of fresh juicy self-picked strawberries and with a perfect idea of how my Mille Fueille was going to look.


Strawberries

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Strawberries scream summer to me. Nothing compares to popping a juicy strawberry that has been ripened to perfection in the early summer sun. Strawberries, however, are a lot more than satisfying that berry sweet tooth. They are filled with tons of health benefits, making it a nutritious fruit for the mind and the body.

Strawberries contain several nutrients, with vitamin C heading the group. In fact, one cup of fresh strawberries provides about 88 milligrams of ascorbic acid, which more than meets the Recommended Daily Dietary allowance of 45 milligrams for the average adult. Vitamin C is well retained when the strawberries are handled carefully. Capping, injuring, cutting, or juicing, however, will reduce the vitamin content.

They also contain significant levels of phytonutrients and antioxidants, which fight free radicals. These antioxidant properties are believed to be linked to what makes the strawberry bright red. Free radicals are elements that can damage cells, and they are thought to contribute to the formation of many kinds of cancer.

In addition to vitamin C, strawberries also provide an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, as well as folic acid, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, copper, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Strawberries are low in calories with one cup of unsweetened strawberries having only 55 calories.

The first thing that generally comes to the mind when strawberries are mentioned is strawberry and cream. However, strawberries are so versatile they can be used in baked goods, salads, beverages, dipped, but they taste best when eaten plain.

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Unfortunately, strawberries are quite perishable. So it is advisable to purchase fresh strawberries only a few days before they are to be eaten. When strawberries are in season locally this is rarely a problem. But at other times of the year, it may be necessary to make due with frozen strawberries, which lose much if not all of their nutrition.

Choose strawberries that are plump, firm, free of mold and have a deep red color. Unlike other fruits, strawberries do not continue to ripen after they are picked, so choose the ripest and reddest strawberries. These will provide the best taste and offer the highest nutrient density. Often medium sized strawberries are sweeter and more flavorful than larger ones. When buying pre-packaged strawberries, make sure that the berries have not been packed too tightly. This could cause them to be crushed or otherwise damaged.

Before using or storing, sort through the strawberries and separate the soft ones from the firm, fully ripe berries. Discard any mushy or spoiled berries. The best way to store them is in a colander in the refrigerator. This will allow the cold air to circulate around them. Do not cover them. Remove caps from strawberries only after washing.

Prepare strawberries for serving by rinsing with caps still attached under a gentle spray of cool water; pat dry with a paper towel. Removing the caps before washing will cause the water to break down the texture and flavor inside the berries. Wash the berries just before you plan to use them.

Puff pastry, strawberries - check, check. For the cream I thought I would do something similar the the cream I used in this dessert. With all this in my head I set out to make my own Mille Feuille creation.



Reminder!


Send me your ice cream creation for July's MM - Scream For Ice Cream over to me soon.
Deadline is July 4th!








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Ingredients

450g homemade Puff pastry - you can also use store bought
A small handful flour
3 tablespoons icing sugar
250g mascarpone
250g Quark
1 vanilla bean - insides scraped
100g icing sugar
zest and juice of 1 lime
200g fresh strawberries - coarsely chopped




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Method

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C. Prepare a baking tray, by lining it with a sheet of baking paper. Keep your second baking tray nearby.

To make the puff pastry circles spread the dough on a floured counter top and roll into a large enough rectangular form. Using a cookie cutter, small tart form or a glass, cut approx. 10 to 12 circular forms. Place each circle on the baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover with another sheet of baking paper. Using the second tray, place this on top of the tray with the pastry circles to weigh them down. Bake the circles for 8-10 minutes. Take out, remove the tray and the baking paper from the pastry, which should be golden and crispy.

Sprinkle each circle with some icing sugar. Using the grill function of your oven allow the sugar to caramelize on the puffy pastry circles. This normally takes just a couple of minutes so make sure you keep a close watch, otherwise they'll burn quickly. Take out of the oven, flip over, sprinkle this side with icing sugar and once again caramelize under the grill. Take out and allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the mascarpone, quark, vanilla, lime zest and juice into a smooth cream. Gently fold in the strawberries. Do not mix too vigorously or else the strawberries will get mushy.

To assemble your treat, spread a nice helping of the cream and strawberries on one of the caramelized puff pastry circles. Cover with a second circle and ever so gently press it down to fix together.
Serve immediately and fresh.

Et voila!
My take on the Mille Feuille.




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Verdict

Yes, this satisfies all my cravings for a sweet flaky pastry with a creamy filling and fruity berries. How awesome is that? Both Tom and Soeren just loved these little weekend treats. The recipe makes a perfect amount of 5 or 6 and unbelievably they disappeared really fast. I was lucky I could get a few shots of these. To really enjoy the crispy flaky texture of the puff pastry, they must be eaten on the same day otherwise, the pastry turns soggy.

Hope you enjoy them!

More strawberry sensations:
Refreshing: Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Strawberry Kisses - Strawberry Almond Muffins
Fruity - Strawberry Mango Jam
A dessert with a twist - Strawberry Asparagus Salad with Orange Filets


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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

32 comments :

  1. I've got a twilight zone feeling going on here! I guess we feel the same way about strawberries. Your recipe is beautifully elegant though, the one I used was one step up from shoving them in my mouth!

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  2. mmmmmmm... can I come over to Weimar, now? :)

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  3. Meeta
    You deserts are always so sinful, that they are pure pleasure. Not sure if I can ever recreate such stuff

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  4. How absolutely lovely, Meeta! Just gorgeous!

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  5. I'm sorry Meeta, I didn't mean to drool on your blog! I couldn't help myself!

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  6. I came across your blog and I so glad I did! These look so delicious! As does everything else.

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  7. Oh, these look so beautiful and delicious!!

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  8. I like the lighting on the pics with the strawberries.

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  9. Meeta oh Meeta. I am trying so hard not to make another buttery pastries with creamy filling. Now I just have to make some... I love your take on the Mille Feuille!

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  10. this is so nice ...must have tgasted great ..Can i come over and have them ...Simply Super

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  11. Your food photos are very delicious! Very nice blog!

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  12. Nice dessert Meeta. You would have me melted for this one! So fresh and summery!

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  13. Fantastic - strawberries for chocolate!
    These look so wonderful. Wish I could have one of these.

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  14. hmmmmmmm beautiful , delicious !!!

    Cheers
    Mala

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  15. That sounds sinful!! I'm trying hard to control my sweet cravings! :) I'm not able to see the pics, are you using flickr?

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  16. Laura, I just say great minds think a like.

    Latha, you're welcome anytime. I'm sure we'll have a great time.

    Sandeepa, I am sure you can. You are a very creative person.

    Ivonne - Thank you sweetie.

    Quellia, drooling is allowed. So drool!!

    Tarah, welcome and thank you!

    Deborah, Cynthia - thanks girls!

    Anh, aww! c'mon - you can't stop making pastries! One more OK?

    Deepa, yes anytime you like.

    Mandrazhe - thanks for that!

    Bea, I am sure we'd have a great time creating such summery desserts together.

    Tanna, the next time you are in Europe - visit me and I promise I'll make a truck load of these just for you.

    Vanamala, thank you!

    Jyo, yes I am using Flickr. Which pictures are you not seeing?

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  17. yummy! u are right.. nothing screams summer more than strawberries and u have showcased them well.

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  18. As I was reading this, and looking at those amazing photos, I found myself licking my lips like a dog, salivating. Sigh. I'm a goner.

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  19. My goodness these are gorgeous. That cream is amazing! I've been wondering about making these. Of course, wondering doesn't get the job done. I'll just stare at your picture and procrastinate a bit longer!

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  20. What time is tea time? These look absolutely light as a cloud!

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  21. Wonderful variation of the mille feuille, looks delicious!

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  22. really great looking dessert...fantastic

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  23. Wow these look great, I like you have a very large sweet tooth! I have been working a lot with strawberries and this is something I would like to try...Thank you

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  24. I'm getting hungry now! This looks DELISH!!!

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  25. Wow! How beautiful..."almost" too pretty to eat, but I'm certain I could yield to the temptation. :-) I'm so pleased to have found your blog, and will read all of the archived posts before all is said and done.

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  26. so pretty what you did with simple cupcakes! i'll definitely be trying out these beauties...

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  27. Shaheen, thanks. We are on strawberry overload at the moment.

    Sher, no you are not a goner. You'll be amazed at how often I do the same when I'm visiting some of my fave blogs. Glad someone drools over mine too Hehehe!

    Kelly, they are so easy to make so make them and then you can enjoy them all on your own.

    Helene, maybe not that light. But they were great!

    Bril, Dilip, thank you!

    Patty, please do let me know what you thought of them!

    IslandGirl4Ever2, Thank you so much.

    Belinda, welcome to WFLH. Thanks for the motivation and hope to see you around more often!

    Pastry Princess - let me know how you enjoyed them!

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  28. Meeta, I need your help. Since I have never even heard of Quark, I am expecting quite a hunt to find it here in Canada. Can you think of a good substitute for both flavour and consistency?

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  29. Hi Kimberly,
    It's really difficult to substitute quark to it's perfect flavor and consistency. I often say to people to either use thick sour cream or cream cheese - maybe even a mix of both. As the flavor kind of lies somewhere in between. If you like you can also make quark at home too. I have a great website as a recommendation here. It seems easy enough.
    Hope that helps!

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  30. This looks great Meeta, I'm gonna make these, without the quark though...and maybe a little different:)

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  31. hey i was just wondering if i could use some of your pictures....i'm not sure how else to contact you but please let me know asap thanks! :]

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  32. ndngymnast - you can contact me via email. in the menu bar right below the header under "contact".

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta