I say ‘cheat’, but what I really mean is that everyone has their own little tips and tricks, those secrets for cutting corners when time is tight or you just can’t be bothered to spend hours in the kitchen. In my case, my weakness is for ready-made puff pastry. I mean, I’m a full-time, final year university student; I definitely do not have time to be making my own puff pastry from scratch! I suspect this is why so few of my recipes are actually (puff) pastry-based. It always makes me feel ever-so-slightly guilty to use the shop-bought stuff…that said, I draw the line at pre-made shortcrust, after that one-time experiment with a lemon tart. (Not that there’s anything wrong with ready-made shortcrust, I just happen to prefer homemade.)
But why all this talk about shop-bought pastry, you may well ask? I recently made a dessert which was pastry-based; it was for a Mothers’ Day lunch, so I wanted to go a bit further and do something a little bit more challenging. It was this idea which led me to attempt mille-feuille for the first time.
Layers of puff pastry, sandwiched with cream and cherries, served with whipped dark chocolate ganache. Unfortunately, there were no good fresh cherries on the day, so I resorted to the tinned type instead; probably a mistake, because they added nothing in terms of flavour. (Sadly, this was one of those times where the plate, in all honesty, looked better than it tasted.)
Still, it seemed to go down well and there are valuable lessons to be learned and new ideas to take away for the next time I make mille-feuille…after all, everything is a learning opportunity!