Praline Napoleons with Almond Cream Filling
These multilayered sweets satisfy on a few levels. We've improved on the patisserie classic by filling its dense, buttery pastry layers with piped ruffles of almond-infused cream and a sprinkling of crushed praline. A crisp shard of the nut-studded candy caps off each serving.
- All-purpose flour, for work surface
- 1 sheet from 1 box (17 1/4 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, toasted and finely chopped (about 7 ounces)
- Vegetable oil, for spatula
- Almond Cream Filling
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out twelve 4 1/2-by-2 3/4 inch rectangles; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and prick with a fork. Brush with egg, and cover with parchment. Top with a baking sheet. Chill in freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.
With top sheet still in place, bake until pastry is crisp and golden, 30 to 32 minutes. Remove top sheet and parchment. Let pastry cool completely on bottom parchment on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat. Stir together sugar, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, until sugar begins to melt and turn light amber, about 3 minutes. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed to prevent crystals from forming. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture turns dark amber, about 8 minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in almonds. Pour mixture onto prepared sheet. Using an oiled offset spatula, spread to 1/8 inch thick. Let cool completely. Transfer half of the praline to a plastic bag; using a rolling pin, gently crush into very small pieces; set aside. Break remaining praline into large pieces using your hands.
Transfer the almond cream filling to a pastry bag fitted with a petal tip (such as Wilton #127). Pipe filling onto 6 pastry rectangles; sprinkle each with crushed praline. Layer with another pastry rectangle and filling. Top each with a piece of praline.