Funfetti Millefeuille

Spring, at last! Though it was a relatively tame winter (not including that snow storm I happened to miss out on) the sun and mild weather already feels rejuvenating, bringing with it a shift in the winds, the arrival of a new phase.

I realize that I mention this feeling of “rebirth” and starting another revolution of an ever-evolving cycle of life maturation each time spring comes around but it truly does happen. I mean, look at the evidence. 3years ago in the spring, a year out of college and just finding my first “real job”, I was going through a new phase of acclimation. 2 years ago I entered a major phase of personal growth and trying things that I was maybe too scared to try beforehand. And 1 year ago, the spring was the start of a lesson in healing and a long and slow process of realizing that hurt and sadness do indeed go away.

So what about this year? When spring arrived I still wasn’t sure yet. Unlike other years, this spring didn’t start off with a huge change or clear-cut moment defining the beginning of a new phase. That is, until I came across this quote by Emily Dickinson on Instagram of all places.

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”

That’s when I realized that the phases of my life these past three years and what I’ve learned from them have all been leading up to this, the stage where I really begin to just start living. It’s almost as if I’ve been spending my time getting to know who I am, deep down to the core and now that I’ve done that, I am free to take risks, be a bit reckless, and just let myself go without risk of losing sight of the self. And that made me excited! So excited I couldn’t help but make a 4 layer cake complete with rainbow sprinkles for Easter dessert this past weekend. Because I couldn’t possibly claim to be living it up to the fullest extent if rainbow sprinkles weren’t involved, amiright. Thus, Funfetti Millefeuille.

Millefeuille, a classic French dessert meaning “thousand leaves,” is composed of alternating layers of crispy and flaky puff pastry with a creamy custardy filling and a layer of icing on top. It’s best eaten immediately if it’s the crispy texture you crave, but I found it really nice once it softened too, almost éclair-like. This particular version, filled with a rainbow sprinkle-infused sweet mascarpone filling and decorated just as frivolously, is probably as far as you could go in terms of bastardizing the original version, probably causing Julia Child to roll over in her grave with each layer added. But do I care? Nope! Because this looks like springtime and tastes like birthday cake with a sort of cavity-inducing sweetness that can only be complemented by a cup of strong black coffee. So, if it’s ecstatic experiences I‘m opening my soul to this year, well, I’d say I’m off to a pretty good start.

Funfetti Millefeuille
Recipe from Tasting Table


For the Pastry
1 17.3 oz package (containing two sheets) of puff pastry thawed in the refrigerator and cut in half, lengthwise, creating 4 rectangles of puff pastry.
2 Tbs. powdered sugar

For the Filling
2 cups mascarpone cheese
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped
½ cup rainbow sprinkles

For the Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs. milk
2 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp. corn syrup
red, blue, green, and yellow food coloring

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 2 rectangles of the puff pastry on each baking sheet and prick them all over with a fork. Use a fine-mesh sieve to dust them on each side with powdered sugar. Bake until golden, 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and use another baking sheet to press down lightly on the pastry to flatten them some. Once flattened, transfer the pastry to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the filling by combining the mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and whipped cream in a bowl until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar, milk, butter, and corn syrup in a bowl. In 4 small bowls place 1 Tbs. of the icing. Add 2-3 drops of one color of food coloring to each bowl of icing and mix well. You’ll end up with a tablespoon of icing for each color. Transfer each of these to a separate sandwich bag and seal shut. Leave the rest of the white icing in a bowl until ready to use.

To assemble the millefeuille begin by adding the sprinkles to the filling and mix well. Transfer to a piping bag or a gallon plastic bag with one corner snipped off. Place one piece of the puff pastry on your serving platter. Pipe a third of the filling onto the pastry and spread evenly with a knife or offset spatula. Repeat this step 2 more times. Add the final piece of pastry to the top and use an offset spatula to spread the white icing on the top. Snip the very tip of the bottom corner of each bag of colored frosting and work quickly to pipe thin lines across the top of the cake, alternating colors. Once you’ve covered the entire length of the cake with stripes of colored frosting, use a toothpick and drag the tip across the length of the cake. Do this, alternating direction each time, until you’ve reached the other side of the cake. Slice crosswise to serve.

Apple Tart

Apple season always puts me in this crazed fanatic mood. I stock up on dozens and literally change all of my meals so that they somehow incorporate this beautiful seasonal ingredient. I’ve been making pork chops topped with sautéed apples and blue cheese, sweet potatoes stuffed with apples and cheddar, butternut squash soup sweetened with apples and cider. There is nothing comparable to the taste of a freshly picked Virginia apple. The skin is rough and bumpy, free from that awful wax that defiles the outside every store-bought variety. The flesh is firm and dense as if every square inch is packed with as much pure apple flavor as possible. And of course nothing beats that satisfying crunch with each and every bite.

But a celebration of the fall apple wouldn’t be complete without an apple pie, right? Well, the thing is, I’m not a huge pie fan. They are just so heavy and the crust seems to overtake the fruit inside, the ingredient that should stand out instead. The filling usually ends up as a sickeningly sweet and syrupy concoction that masks that great fruit flavor and that syrup eventually runs to the bottom and transforms what used to be a flaky crust into a pile of mush.

Yep, definitely don’t like pie too much.

But a tart…now a tart is not a pie. A tart takes all of the unfortunate aspects of pie and gets rid of them, leaving all that is good and tasty. Whether it’s a fruit tart, chocolate, frangipane, etc., it just seems to get the proportions right.

This simple apple tart I made is a proper tribute to the fall apple. A thin, flaky, and buttery crust serves as a sturdy base for a whole lot of pure and simple apple. No gelatinous flour sauce coats this fruit. It gets a little brush of butter, a sprinkling of coarse raw sugar, and a dash of cinnamon. That’s it. It bakes long and slow and the apples slowly soften, the sugars condensing and turning the tart flavors slightly sweeter. A sweet and toasty smell fills the air in a scent that speaks of nothing but fall. The crust crisps up, turning delicate and tender with a subtle crunch from the sugar and a thin glaze of jam puts a lightly sweet glisten over the top. It needs nothing on the side (though a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream wouldn’t be bad at all) for the apples speak for themselves. If you want to celebrate apples this year, this is the way to do it.

Apple Tart
from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of Alice Water’s recipe

This tart actually keeps for a while in the fridge. Though it’s best warm and fresh out of the oven, it revives beautifully when recrisped in a toaster oven. Like any pie, it can also be frozen after cooling and reheated in the oven if you want to make it ahead of time. But it is so light and fresh and fragrant, you may not be able to resist from gobbling it up before it makes it to the freezer.

for the dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. just-softened butter cut into cubes
3½ Tbs. cold water

for the filling
5 firm and tart apples (I used enterprise apples) peeled, cored, halved, and cut into thin half-circle slices
2 Tbs. butter, melted
3 Tbs. coarse sugar
a dash of cinnamon

for the glaze
your favorite jam

First make the dough. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add 2 Tbs. of the butter. Rub the butter into the flour with the tips of your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the rest of the butter and rub into the flour until you have pea-sized pieces. Dribble in the water, one Tbs. at a time and toss it into the butter and flour mixture with your hands. Continue adding the water (add more or less as needed) until the dough is able to form into a ball. Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is sitting in the fridge, you can work on preparing you apples, peeling, coring, halving, and cutting into thin slices. When ready to assemble, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until about 1 inch bigger that the tart pan on each side. Lightly grease the ban and drape the dough overtop, pressing it up the sides and letting the extra hang over the edge. Arrange the apple slices inside, flat, cut-side down, overlapping and working in a circle from the outside in until you use all of the apples. Take the overhanging crust and drape it over about two inches of the apples on the outside. Remove any excessive crust. Brush the melted butter over the apples and the crust and sprinkle over the sugar and a little bit of cinnamon. Bake for 45 minutes, turning every 15, until the crust is golden and the apples soft.

Remove from the oven to cool about 15 minutes before serving. Before serving, heat a small amount of your favorite jam or preserves (apple or apricot would be nice) in the microwave and brush a thin layer over the apples so they shine. Serve alone or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.