I taught many baking classes during my years at Stars. This recipe was served at the restaurant and taught in classes from Seattle to New Jersey. It was a favorite on both coasts and in the middle of the country as well. Bananas are available all year, so you never have to wait for the proper season to enjoy this napoleon.
The pastry dough may be made 3 days ahead and kept refrigerated. The rolled-out dough may be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 2 weeks and thawed in the refrigerator.
The caramel walnut sauce may be made 3 days ahead, covered, refrigerated, and then reheated gently just before serving. Do not add the walnuts until reheating, or they will become soggy. You may bake the pastry rectangles several hours in advance of serving, but keep them in an airtight container at room temperature so they remain crisp. Slice the bananas and assemble the napoleons just before serving.—Emily Luchetti
For the puff pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup ice water
For the caramel walnut sauce
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
For the chantilly cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 bananas, peeled and sliced on the diagonal, 1/2-inch thick
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon dark rum, optional
1 recipe Chantilly Cream
Make the puff pastry
1. Combine the flour and salt on a work surface. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour and then toss together until all the cubes are coated with the flour. Shape the mixture into a mound and form a well in the center.
2. Pour the water into the well. With your fingertips, as though you were tossing a salad, work the water into the flour-butter mixture until a rough dough begins to form. It will look like torn and knotted rags. Gently press the dough together so that all the dry flour is absorbed.
3. Form the dough into a rectangle about 6 by 8 inches and 1 1/4 inches thick. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 7-by-16-inch rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. With a short side of the rectangle facing you, fold the dough as you would a business letter: Fold down the top two-thirds toward you and then fold the bottom third over the top. This is a single turn. Give the dough a quarter turn so that the open seam is on your right and the closed seam is on your left. If necessary, lightly flour the work surface so the dough doesn’t stick. Repeat the rolling and folding process; this is another single turn. Wrap and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
5. Give the dough 2 more single turns, rolling and folding each time and making sure to give it a quarter turn between the 2 turns so the open seam is on your right. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Once more, give the dough 2 single turns, folding and rolling as before, and refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling out.
6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry into a 16-by- 9-inch rectangle about 1/16 inch thick. With the tines of a fork, make holes about 1/8 inch apart, all over the puff pastry. Using a sharp knife, cut the puff pastry into twelve 4-by-3-inch rectangles. Place the pastry rectangles on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Place the baking sheets in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Bake the puff pastry rectangles until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets to room temperature.
Make the caramel sauce
1. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the brown and granulated sugars and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugars are melted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and vanilla and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts.
Make the chantilly cream
1. Put the cream, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl and whip by hand with a whisk or with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form. The cream should hold its shape but still be very smooth. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Note: You can whip the cream an hour or two in advance, cover and refrigerate it. If it sits longer than that, it will start to thin out and you will need to rewhip it lightly before using. A few quick stirs with a whisk will do the trick.
Assemble the napoleons
1. In a bowl, gently stir together the banana slices, lemon juice, and rum (if using). Place 1 pastry rectangle on each of 6 plates. Spoon some of the bananas on top of the pastry and then some chantilly cream. Drizzle the caramel walnut sauce over the cream and bananas. Place a second pastry rectangle on top. Serve immediately.
Recipe © 2007 by Emily Luchetti.. All rights reserved.