Think of these Pumpkin Pudding Napoleon Pastries like a fancy deconstructed pumpkin pie. The pastry sheets are made with flaky pie dough that bakes, and the pumpkin pudding is a smooth and creamy custard – the perfect balance to the crispy pastry sheets. Serve this at Thanksgiving for a show-stopping dessert!
Pumpkin Dessert for Fall
Full disclosure – I’m not a huge pumpkin pie fan. I’ll eat a slice, and that’s about it. There is nothing that bothers me about the flavor or texture – I think it is just a heavy slice of dessert after a heavy meal. Don’t tell the pumpkin pie police!
However, these Pumpkin Pudding Napoleon Pastries are the right balance of light and flaky crust with a creamy pumpkin pudding. Plus, you guessed it; because this is a small batch dessert, the portions are the right size and there won’t be tons leftover to have to worry about eating!
Most importantly, their presentation is just too fancy! Imagine serving up this delicious pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving. Your guest will be Instagramming and Facebooking pictures of them for weeks to come!
What is a Napoleon Pastry Dessert
It has nothing to do with the emperor Napoleon. This dessert gets its name from what it was originally termed – ‘napolitain‘. And that concludes the history lesson.
The Napoleon is made up of 3 layers of flaky pastry. Usually a puff pastry. Now, I did take some creative – and easier – liberties with this recipe for Pumpkin Pudding Napoleon Pastries. Our pastry is the same dough I used to make my Cherry Almond Galette for Two and Individual Peaches and Cream Pies. So yes, it is my pie dough recipe. However, I will stand behind the fact that my pie dough bakes into lots of flaky layers.
In between the layers is a creamy delight. A custard, pastry cream, or pudding in our case. And topped with powdered sugar, frosting, cocoa, almonds … basically, anything that is a yummy complement to the layers.
The moral of this story is you can make a Napoleon out of anything, really. And if you are a fan of the Food Network, you will see many, many variations of Napoleons – it just depends on what is in the ‘mystery basket’.
Tips for Making the Pumpkin Pudding Napoleon Pastries
For the Pudding:
- Make it first. It can even be made the day before. Just like any homemade pudding (Chocolate Pudding or Butterscotch Pudding), it does require some time to set up in the fridge.
- Temper the egg yolk so it doesn’t scramble. Tempering the egg yolk is just bringing the egg yolk to the temperature of the warm liquid. To do this, you constantly whisk to keep the ingredients moving and incorporating. Don’t rush this step (or skip it!)
- Strain the pudding. Even when my pudding looks perfectly smooth, I still strain it. It is like a security blanket for me – to protect me from clumpy bits.
For the Pastry Dough:
- Use your hands. Don’t be afraid to get your hands in the dough! I use my hands for almost all of my dough recipes to mix in and break up the cold butter. You truly get a ‘feel’ for how the dough is coming together!
- You may need more, or less, water. One of the things I love about dough is it is so finicky. Just kidding. The temperature outside, inside, in your work bowl – you name it – can have an effect on how flour evolves into a dough. So even though I have given measurements for the cold water, just know you may need more or less.
- Eat the dessert the day you make them! Like you’ll have any left. 🙂 But should you get close to having a leftover, just know that the dough will not be as flaky the next day. But that never stopped me from devouring one!
Lastly, and most importantly, ENJOY! I’ve grown very fond of these little desserts, and I hope you do as well!
Pumpkin Pudding Napoleon Pastries
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or white distilled vinegar)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
- 1 egg, beaten (for brushing pastry sheets)
Cinnamon Sugar Sprinkle
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 large egg yolk (room temperature)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 6 tablespoons pure canned pumpkin (room temperature)
Whipped Coconut Cream – for topping
- The dough can be made the night before.
- Note -The butter needs to be cold. Before you begin making the dough, cut the butter into cubes, and place in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes ahead of time.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter cubes to the flour and press the butter cubes into small flat, flaky discs (about the size of a nickel) – making sure they are all coated with flour.
- Fill a small liquid measuring cup with ice water – as long as you have at least 1/2 cup of water. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of ice water to the well. Using a fork or spatula, stir the flour around the water, and continue to add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you start to get larger clumps of dough. To check if you have added enough water, grab some of the dough in your hand and squeeze it. If it sticks together without crumbling apart, you have added enough water. If it still crumbles apart, add another tablespoon of water, and check again. Note – The dough is supposed to be rough and not overly moist. Adding too much water will likely result in a tough dough. So will overmixing the dough. Work the dough gently when mixing in the water.
- Note – Weather and humidity can impact how much water you need to bring the dough together. You may find that you need more water than the recipe states.
- Pour the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a ball, then flatten into a small disc. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
- The pudding can be made the night before.
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the milk and maple syrup. Heat the milk until it is scalding (just below boiling – small bubbles will form around the side of the saucepan) – do not boil. Remove from the heat.
- While the milk is heating, in a medium bowl add the cream, egg yolk, and corn starch. Whisk until the corn starch dissolves.
- Slowly drizzle in about half of the heated milk into the corn starch mixture, whisking constantly. This tempers the egg yolk so it does not scramble. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk and return to medium heat. Gently whisk constantly until the pudding just starts to thicken – about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- To the pudding, add the vanilla extract, butter, pumpkin puree, and cinnamon. Whisk until fully incorporated.
- Strain the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl – be sure to scrape the bottom of the strainer to get all of the pudding! Cover the pudding with plastic wrap set directly on top of the pudding – this keeps a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours – or overnight.
- Baking and Assembling – Preheat the oven to 375F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
- Remove the cooled chilled dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Lightly flour your work surface. Roll the dough into a 12-inch square. Trim off any rough edges – these an be used to make decorative cut-outs.
- Cut the dough into 3-inch x 4-inch rectangles – this will yield 4 Napoleons with 3 pastry sheet layers. You can also cut the dough into any sizes you like – depending on how many Napoleons and how many layers you prefer.
- Transfer the dough rectangles to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the top of each lightly with the beaten egg, then sprinkle a healthy amount of cinnamon and sugar on the top.
- Bake the pastry sheets for 22-25 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheet set on a wire rack.
- Assembling the Napoleons – place a large dollop (you can also pipe on the pudding if you like) of the chilled Pumpkin Pudding on top of 4 pastry sheets, Top each with another pastry sheet and repeat with the remaining pudding. Finish off with the last pastry sheet and garnish with Whipped Coconut Cream. The Napoleons are best enjoyed the day they are made!
- Pumpkin – Depending on the brand, canned pumpkin can have different names, but is the same thing: Pumpkin Puree, Pure Pumpkin, 100% Pumpkin, Organic Pure Pumpkin. Just be sure it is not Pumpkin Pie Filling.
- Preparation – The dough and pudding can be made the night before. Which is what I do (and recommend). This allows the pudding to set firm and the dough to relax.