Matcha Namelaka Mille Feuille

Whenever I think of mille feuille, I actually think of my friend from college, Sena. We took some boring math general-education class together, and one day while we were bored, we were talking about our favorite desserts, mine being financier, and hers being mille feuille. A mille feuille, translated from French to mean “a million leaves” or “a million layers”, is a dessert made with puff pastry, some sort of cream or custard, and usually fruit. In the case of this recipe, we are not including fruit, and for the cream/custard component, we are going with a namelaka, which is a whipped chocolate ganache. I flavored it with matcha green tea, since I love the contrast between white chocolate and matcha, being the sweet and creamy versus the bitter and floral. That pairing adds a really nice foil to the puff pastry, which is crispy and airy. I have made a mille feuille quite similar to this one before, although in this case, I went with a different filling, being a namelaka, which is a Japanese-French whipped ganache. While these mille feuille are only made with two, three counting just the dusting of matcha on top, components, they are very technical. Making puff pastry from scratch is extremely time-consuming, and if you want to scale the difficulty level of this recipe from a 10 to a 3, you can just use premade puff pastry, and just focus your efforts on making the namelaka. I can’t blame you if you did, but for me, being a baker, I just could not bring myself to do anything besides make my own puff pastry, regardless of it taking a good 3 hours of my day.

When it comes to making puff pastry from scratch, it is always a labor of love. Setting up a butter block, rolling the dough out without breaking the edges, doing the right amount of folds and turns(too little and the dough won’t puff, too many and the layers run the risk of being smushed together), all the while keeping the dough cold enough, so the butter won’t melt prior to the baking process. It is a commitment. For those curious about it, a butter block is literally a giant block of butter, that you fold into a flour-based dough to create those layers in things like puff pastry or croissants. The process of rolling out the butter block and folding it through the flour dough is called lamination, and boy oh boy, is it technical. You have to make sure that the butter is cold, otherwise the dough won’t puff. So that requires you to refrigerate or freeze the dough between folds for 20 to 30-minute intervals. But if you chill the dough too long, then the butter gets too firm, and when you roll out the dough, it will begin to crack and break apart all of those beautiful layers you were trying to create. Dough lamination was my pandemic baby. Personally, for me, I prefer doing rough puff pastry, because at least you can omit the butter block portion. There is still the waiting period between folding your dough, but at least you don’t have to whip, shape, and chill butter into a perfect little square first. You just go in with giant chunks of frozen butter, and keeping those cold during the folding process to form your dough!

With the namelaka, it is made by melting chocolate down with milk/cream and gelatin, letting that mixture firm up, then whipping it with heavy cream until it forms into this super silky mousse. It can be served on its own as a dessert, be used in the body of mousse cakes or layer cakes, the fillings of tarts, or in this case, the filling in a mille feuille. I could list out the plethora of recipes that have used namelaka on this blog, but that would honestly take forever. Just know that the technical aspects of making it include letting the mixture firm up enough, as whipping the namelaka mixture while it is still warm won’t resulting in it thickening, and after it is firmed, monitor it as you are whipping it with cream, as it can go from silky mousse to split chocolate butter very quickly, and unfortunately the only ways to salvage it would be to re-melt it down, mix in some xanthan gum, re-set it, and try again, or scrap the whole batch if you do not own xanthan gum, maybe cry a little, then redo the recipe from scratch. It is a labor of love, but the texture of a namelaka is far and away superior to just simple whipped cream, which you can also just do a matcha whipped cream if you are really THAT lazy/don’t want to push yourself to make a namelaka. It will be maybe 40% as good, but at least you can enjoy a mille feuille without challenging yourself as much, I guess? But for me, the creamy texture of namelaka, which just melts on the tongue, works so well against the crispy, flakiness of the puff pastry and it is such a simple combination, but an addicting one, nonetheless.

Makes 8 mille feuille:
For the rough puff pastry:
3 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

Dice up your butter into 1/2-inch cubes and stick in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. Mix together the cold water, vinegar, and salt until dissolved and store in the freezer for at least 5 minutes. It is important that you keep both the butter and the water cold, or else your layers could melt together! In a bowl, toss the butter cubes with the flour, making sure that each cube is completely coated in the flour and separate from each other. Form a well in the center of the flour-butter mixture and pour in the cold water. Gently stir the water into the flour mixture until the water is absorbed into the flour. You want a craggy dough with the chunks of butter still visible. If you have mixed the dough to the point where the butter chunks are completely gone, you have overmixed the dough and you should just bake that into crackers or savory shortbreads. Pour your relatively unmixed dough onto a plastic wrap or parchment-lined cold surface and gently push the dough into a rectangle shape and then wrap your dough. Chill down the dough for 25 minutes in the freezer. Place the cold dough onto a floured surface and roll it out to be a rectangle that is about 1 1/2 feet by 6 inches. Fold the dough into thirds, taking each end of the dough along the length and folding them into the center like a brochure or pamphlet. Re-wrap the dough and rechill it for another 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat this step three more times. For the fifth roll, re-roll and fold it in the same fashion as before, but instead of the freezer, store the dough in the refrigerator until time to use. This will help guarantee that you will not need to wrestle or struggle with rolling out the dough when it comes time to baking with it.

For the mille feuille layers:
Rough puff pastry
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to be roughly 12 by 16 inches in diameter. Cut the dough into 16 squares and transfer the pastry to a lined sheet tray, spacing each square to be at least 1/2 an inch apart from one another. Place down a layer of parchment on top of the doughs and weigh down with another sheet tray. Bake at 375 degrees F for 18 minutes. In a bowl, mix together the egg yolk with milk. Remove the top sheet tray and top layer of parchment, and brush the tops of the pastry with the egg mixture. Then dust on top of that the confectioner’s sugar. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Allow the pastry to cool down before using.

For the matcha namelaka:
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsps gelatin powder + 2 tbsp water
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 tsp matcha powder
1/4 tsp green spirulina powder
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a pot, heat up milk, butter, and gelatin, bringing the mixture to a simmer. Once the gelatin is dissolved fully, pour the white chocolate chips into the liquid and stir until combined. Take off heat and stir in the matcha and spirulina powder. Once everything is melted together, pass it through a sieve and allow the mixture to chill down in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat until soft, then fold in the heavy cream, stirring until everything is combined and velvety in texture. Transfer into a piping bag with a star tip.

To assemble:
Matcha powder

Start by piping 9 dollops onto each square of pastry. Stack one square on top of the other, and dust with matcha powder. Refrigerate the mille feuille for at least 30 minutes before attempting to serve, just to give the namelaka some time to firm up.

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