I promised I’d get off my days-long pizza kick, though I hate to leave the city of Naples, it’s so lovely this time of year. So why not make Napoleons this week? I know what you’re thinking: um, Napoleons are named after Napoleon, brainiac. You know, the emperor? In fact it seems not. Most historians agree that “Napoleons” are a corruption of “alla napoletana” or possibly “neapolitan”, words which of course can mean either “from Naples” or “in the style of Naples”. My vote for most likely candidate goes to the French iteration, “à la napolitaine”. I imagine some gabby turn-of-the-century socialite just back from her tour of the Continent: and then we had these lovely little pastries in a shop just off the Rue Rivoli, they were called, oh, Napoleons or some such thing. Sounds silly I know, but that’s how these things happen.
So then, to make Napoleons you’ll need some puff pastry, some pastry cream, some poured fondant or simple “five finger” icing and a little cocoa powder. Hardware-wise you’ll need two half-sheet pans or cookie sheets, some baking parchment, an icing spatula and a nice sharp knife.