Pear And Chestnut Millefoglie Cake
This is a version of the French pastry mille-feuille (literally “a thousand leaves” in both French and Italian) that uses tuile biscuits instead of puff pastry — much simpler to make! Thank you to Manuela, my dear friend, for the inspiration. I make the tuiles, crème pâtissière and fruit in advance and put the dessert together at the last minute.You can use other fruit according to the season, such as berries, figs or peaches.
45 minutes preparation time
20 minutes cooking time
4 large williams pears
2 knobs butter
2 tablespoons raw (demerara) sugar
1 jar of chestnuts in syrup
icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting
1 quantity crème pâtissière
For the tuiles
4 egg whites, at room temperature
125 g (4½ oz/1 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
175 g (6 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
200 g (7 oz) butter, melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) fan-forced. Make the crème pâtissière according to the recipe. Set it aside in a mixing bowl until it has cooled, covered with plastic wrap in direct contact with the surface of the crème.
To make the tuiles, whisk the egg whites in a bowl with the sifted icing sugar. Add the sifted flour and cooled butter.
Place 1 tablespoon portions of the mixture in well-spaced mounds on a baking tray covered with baking paper (for 24 tuiles, allow about three trays). Spread each mound out thinly, using the back of a spoon, to make discs about 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter. Bake for 10–15 minutes, or until just coloured.
Meanwhile, peel the pears and cut them into small cubes. Cook the cubes in a frying pan with the butter and sugar for 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
Drain and roughly chop 5 or 6 chestnuts. To assemble the dish just before serving: place a tuile on each plate, top with a generous spoonful of crème pâtissière, then a spoonful of pear, and scatter over a few pieces of chestnut. Repeat this process two more times. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.