This week’s recipe has the air of a raspberry ripple ice cream sandwich about it. The ultimate summer treat for me growing up was two cheap thin wafers that sandwiched thick slabs of old-school raspberry ripple ice cream together.
Here, raspberries are the star. Paired with a few complementary textures and flavours, that nostalgic concept of a raspberry ripple wafer is elevated into something with a little more finesse.
Enter the mille-feuille. Meaning “1,000 leaves” or “1,000 sheets” in French, this is a quintessentially classic French dessert, with layers of crisp and flaky puff pastry and some type of cream filling. The fruit is optional in the classic, but raspberries, fragrant and slightly floral, are a delicious berry that will always work well with crisp pastry and soft cream. They are also the perfect size to stand up beside the cream blobs between the layers to make the most pleasing aesthetic.
The cream in question here is called a crème diplomate, but don’t be discouraged by the French name — it is a thick custard set with a little gelatin and then lightened in consistency with some whipped cream. The gelatin and cornflour in the custard ensure it is sturdy enough to stand up when stacked, and the addition of soft whipped cream ensures it isn’t too dense or cloying on the palate. I always use this type of filling in a mille-feuille rather than using plain old cream, which would collapse when layered. This crème diplomate is flavoured with vanilla: simple, slightly soothing and a perfect foil to let the sweet fruit shine.
I am making rough puff pastry here, but feel free to use shop-bought. Once baked, the pastry rectangles can be kept in an airtight container for a few hours before serving. The mille-feuilles are best assembled as close to the time of serving as possible, so that they don’t collapse over time and the pastry stays gorgeously crisp.