Napoleons Without the Mess

Leaves of delicate puff pastry support layers of pastry cream in the French dessert called a napoleon (also mille-feuille and millefoglie). It's beautiful, but how do you eat it (or even cut it for serving) without reducing it to a sad pile of custard-smeared crumbs? Ordinary knife pressure makes the cream smush out all over the place, says KaimukiMan. And deconstructing layer by layer isn't exactly what the chef intended.

In fact, napoleons are often constructed in individual servings, says Quine, to avoid the problem of slicing. From there, vil recommends holding a fork upright with tines facing straight down, and using a tapping/jabbing motion to yield individual bites. "Tines of the fork, straight down, usually works for me with minimal ooze," agrees escondido123. Another strategy, says babette feasts, is to give the top pastry layer a sharp whack with a spoon to break it up, then eat; it's the steady pressure on the entire top layer that results in oozing, she says.

Discuss: Napoleon/MILLE-FEUILLE or MILLEFOGLIE - How do you eat it?

Photo of a napoleon by Flexitarian