Walnut and Fig Napoleon
- Yield 6 servings
- Prep 25 mins
- Cook 15 mins
Each element of this recipe can be prepared in advance, so at serving time, the Napoleons only need to be assembled.
- For macerating the figs
- 12-14 -- fresh figs, more or less, depending on size (about 3/4 lb. total)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the mascarpone filling
- 1 cup (8oz) mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the phyllo pastry squares
- 4 sheets phyllo dough, about 12 x 17 inches, thawed if frozen (detailed handling instructions are on the package)
- 1/2 cup melted, clarified butter
- 1/2 cup (2 oz.) coarsely ground California walnuts
- For assembly
- 6 whole fresh figs, stems attached
- 1 cup (4oz) California walnut pieces
- -- fig macerating juices
To prepare the figs, remove the stems and cut each fig into 3 or 4 slices (you will need about 36 – 48 slices, total) and place them, in a single layer, on a glass or enamel baking pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and drizzle with the vanilla. Cover tightly and refrigerate until serving. After several hours, the sugar will gradually melt, and the resulting syrupy juices can be used to garnish on the assembled Napoleons.
To prepare the mascarpone filling, in a small bowl combine the cheese with the brown sugar and vanilla and stir to blend. Set aside for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice until the sugar is completely dissolved, then cover and refrigerate until serving.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheets or shallow baking pans with parchment paper or foil.
To prepare the phyllo pastry squares, place a sheet of phyllo dough flat on your work surface. Brush with 2 tablespoons of butter, sprinkle with one-third of the nuts, then with one-third of the brown sugar. (To distribute a small amount of brown sugar evenly, place it in a strainer, then press it through with your fingers, letting it fall onto the dough.) Repeat the layering of phyllo, butter, walnuts and brown sugar twice more, ending with a sheet of phyllo on top. Brush the top sheet of phyllo with the remaining butter.
Using a long, sharp knife, cut the phyllo stack into 20 squares, approximately 3 inches to a side. (This is 2 more squares than you actually need, in case any are broken in assembly.) With a spatula, transfer to the prepared baking sheet(s), leaving about 1 inch between the squares. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, until golden. Watch carefully the last minute or two, so they don’t get too dark. Transfer to racks and cool completely. Store the cooled squares in an airtight container, where they will keep for up to 2 days.
To assemble the Napoleons: Cutting not quite through to the stem, cut each whole fig into about 4 slices, then fan the slices slightly to expose the figs’ interior. Set aside for garnish.
Spread 6 dessert plates on your work surface. Have the macerated fig slices, mascarpone filling and phyllo squares at hand. Place a dab of the mascarpone mixture on each of the 6 plates, then set a phyllo square on it and press down gently so the square is held in place. Top each square with about a tablespoon of mascarpone filling, about 3 slices of fig and some walnut pieces. Set a phyllo square on top, and again follow with mascarpone filling, fig slices and walnut pieces. Top with another phyllo squares and a small spoonful of mascarpone filling. Gently set one of the fanned figs on top for garnish, then sprinkle with a few walnut pieces and drizzle with a few drops of the fig macerating juices.
Recipe Courtesy of Chef Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney’s B&L in Sacramento, CA