I remember when I was younger and had not developed an interest in baking yet, I always had a hard time finding the right present for my dad for his birthday or for Father’s Day. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so every year I wanted to give him an amazing gift but I constantly fell short of accomplishing that. It was easier with my mom because my teacher made us decorate cards with lots of glitter, hearts, and flowers in elementary school art classes for Mother’s Day.
When I’d ask my mom for advice, she’d usually suggest buying a fancy perfume and giving it to me to offer him as a present. I never liked that idea much because it didn’t feel like it came from me at all.
Consequently, when I started baking, it became a lot easier for me to give him something that he actually loves without feeling like I did not have enough input. One day when I have a decent job, I definitely plan to buy him fancy watches/fountain pens at the mall but meanwhile, I can at least bake him fancy desserts!
There are 3 ingredients my dad is extremely fond of: puff pastry, coconut, and maraschino cherries. I know this because whenever I’m rolling out dough for sweet pastry crust, he asks whether I can make puff pastry instead, whenever I add coconut to a recipe, he wonders why I didn’t add even more coconut, and whenever I bake a cake he points out that it’d look prettier if it was garnished with a bright red color! As a result, this year, I decided to make some Vanilla and Coconut Mille-Feuilles w/maraschino cherries for Father’s Day!
While I love making almost everything from scratch, puff pastry would have to be an exception. It’s particularly hard to make at home and achieve the delicious buttery taste and crisp, flaky texture that makes it distinct. However, great quality puff pastry sheets are sold nowadays in most grocery stores and everything else in this recipe is definitely made from scratch! Another note to make about puff pastry is that it can be a bit tricky to work with because it becomes sticky if left out at room temperature for too long. I suggest letting the sheets thaw in the fridge and taking them out only when you’re ready to work with them.
~Vanilla and Coconut Mille-Feuille~
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 tbsp All Purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups of sweetened coconut
- Confectioners sugar
- 2 sheets of puff pastry
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp granulated white sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Maraschino cherries
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, granulated white sugar, flour, and cornstarch.
- Bring the whole milk just to a boil and pour it into the egg mixture making sure to whisk constantly at the same time.
- Return the mixture to the stove and whisk constantly at medium heat until it becomes much thicker.
- Whisk the vanilla extract and 1 1/2 cups of the sweetened coconut into the pastry cream.
- Lightly sprinkle confectioners sugar on a countertop to work more easily with the puff pastry. (let the puff pastry thaw in the fridge and only take it out when it’s time to work on it otherwise it gets too sticky)
- Roll out of the sheet a bit and cut it into squares or rectangles of desired size.
- Repeat steps 5 & 6 for the second sheet of puff pastry.
- Beat the egg with the water to make eggwash.
- Place the cut out squares/rectangles on the baking sheets and brush them with the eggwash.
- Bake the puff pastry for 15 minutes.
- Whisk the heavy cream (with a simple whisk/handmixer/standmixer) until it becomes thicker and add in the sugar and vanilla extract then keep whisking until it reaches stiff peaks.
- Toast the remaining cup of sweetened coconut on a baking sheet at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven for 8 minutes, stirring 2-3 times within this time frame to obtain a golden brown color and crispy texture throughout.
- To assemble each mille-feuille, place one piece of puff pastry on the serving plate, spoon some pastry cream on top, then some whipped cream on the cream and place another piece of puff pastry over everything.
- Spoon more pastry cream followed by whipped cream and place a third puff pastry on top.
- Finish each mille feuille, by spreading some whipped cream on the very top, sprinkling on the toasted coconut, and finally garnishing with a maraschino cherry.
I know that this recipe has a lot of steps and does take a considerable amount of time to make but if you really want to create a delicious and memorable dessert for people you love (or yourself!), make these mille-feuilles and enjoy the heavenly combination of the flaky puff pastry, the crisp toasted coconut, the creamy filling, and the sweetness of the maraschino cherry all in one dessert!