Napoleon cake may be one of the most simple yet sophisticated desserts: crispy puff pastry layered with a sweet cream filling. It is the perfect medium to take funfetti cake, that childhood classic, and transition it into a grown-up dessert. Warning: After making this dessert, you may want to throw sprinkles into everything.
The sprinkles add a sweet crunch to the rich mascarpone frosting, but make sure to work quickly when spreading it on each layer of puff pastry; the colors from the sprinkles will bleed if the frosting is not spread immediately after they're added. Same goes for the icing on the top layer, since it dries quickly. You want to make sure the colored lines are piped soon before the toothpick is dragged across to form the arrow pattern. And if the design seems too daunting for you, simply keep it all white and decorate with more sprinkles.
Funfetti Napoleon Cake
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
For the Puff Pastry:
One 17.3-ounce package (two 9-inch square sheets) puff pastry, defrosted according to package instructions and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
For the Mascarpone Filling:
2 cups mascarpone
½ cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
½ cup rainbow sprinkles
For the Icing:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cool
2 teaspoons corn syrup
Red, blue, yellow and green food colorings
1. Preheat the oven to 425° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 2 strips of puff pastry, 2 inches apart, on each sheet tray and prick all over with a fork. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust both sides of the puff pastry with the confectioners' sugar. Bake until golden brown and the sugar just begins to melt, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheets and lightly press another baking sheet on top of each one to flatten slightly. Remove the top baking sheets and allow the pastries to cool completely.
2. Make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the mascarpone, confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Carefully fold in the whipped cream. Chill until ready to use.
3. Make the icing: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, milk, melted butter and corn syrup. Divide ½ cup of the icing between 4 small bowls, with 1½ tablespoons of icing in each. Add 3 to 4 drops of food coloring into each bowl and stir to incorporate, leaving you with a bowl each of red, blue, yellow and green icing. Transfer the icings to separate piping bags and set aside.
4. Assemble the napoleon: Right before assembling, fold the sprinkles into the mascarpone filling and transfer to a piping bag. On a platter, lay 1 piece of puff pastry down and pipe on a third of the filling, covering the entire surface. Repeat this 2 more times. On the baking sheet with the final piece of puff pastry, spread the white icing over the entire surface. Working quickly, pipe alternating colors in thin lines along the width of the puff pastry. Using a toothpick, drag the point along the length of the surface to create the arrow design in the icing, making sure to alternate which end you start with.
5. Using a large offset spatula, lift the iced piece of puff pastry and place on top of the napoleon. Slice crosswise and serve.