Updated: Oct 11
While many of the French-style desserts we've featured on our blog have certainly been widely influential in the years since their inception, there's one dessert whose very name is literally synonymous with a figure of global dominance. The Mille-Feuille began its roots in the 18th century when it was first recorded by French chef Vincent La Chapelle. From there, it reigned over many a Parisian pâtisserie, just as Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power (hence its namesake moniker "Napoleon" in some parts of the world).
The pastry traditionally consists of three layers of puff pastry, with two layers of crème pâtissière in between, and is often layered with fruits such as strawberry and raspberry. Some cultural variations on the dessert are the Philippine Napoleónes, the Russian Napoleon Cake, and the Australian/New Zealand/South African Custard Slice.
Below are some of our favorite takes on the classic recipe.
Vanilla Mille-Feuille from Caillebot (inspired by Chef Cédric Grolet)
A pastry chef known on Instagram for his modern spins on old classics, Grolet's take on the Mille-Feuille (first featured in Fou de Pâtisserie Magazine) involves a vanilla ganache and vanilla praline filling in lieu of the traditional crème pât. The result is a delicious improvement on the original.
Russian Napoleon Cake from Collecting Memories
Named after the French Emperor after his defeat during his attempted Russian takeover, the Napoleon has been a classic holiday staple ever since. Echoing its mille-feuille roots, this fifteen-layer cake takes a painstaking 90 minutes to make -- but just like its namesake, proves to be a showstopper.
Milk Tart Custard Slice from The Kate Tin
For her recipe, blogger Katelyn Allegra combined a classic South African-style Milk Tart with a Custard Slice, resulting in one of the most creamiest desserts imaginable. With cream crackers in lieu of the traditional mille-feuille's flaky layers, it's definitely less of a feat to make...as well as to eat!