Molded Chocolate-Filled Napoleons

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Preparation info

  • Makes


    3 × 1½ inch 7 × 4 cm ) rectangles squares
    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Modern Baker

The Modern Baker

By Nick Malgieri

Published 2008

  • About

This was a specialty of my teacher chef Albert Kumin, who made it with a Grand Marnier mousse at the Four Seasons in New York when he was the head pastry chef, about 50 years ago. I like to use this light chocolate mousse to fill it, and I’ve retained the orange liqueur as a flavoring.


  • 2 Baked Puff Pastry Layers
  • 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau
  • teaspoons (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 7 large egg whites)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12 ounces (350 grams) bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder for finishing
  • One 9 × 13 × 2- inch (23 × 33 × 5-cm) pan, lined with aluminum foil


  1. First prepare the layers: Slide one of the baked puff pastry layers onto a cutting board and use a sharp serrated knife to trim it to the size of the inside of the 9 × 13- inch (23 × 33-cm) pan. (The easiest way to do this is to make a pattern with a piece of parchment paper.) Use a wide spatula to transfer one of the trimmed layers to the bottom of the prepared pan. Trim the other layer in the same manner and set it aside in a safe place.
  2. To start the mousse, whip the cream in a small bowl with the liqueur until it holds a soft peak. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Sprinkle the gelatin in the water and set it aside to soften.
  4. Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a full boil over medium heat. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk by hand, just until smooth. Set the bowl over the pan of water and whisk gently, keeping the egg whites from setting in the bottom of the bowl, until the egg whites are hot (about 140°F/60°C) and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin.
  5. Place the bowl on the mixer with the whip attachment and whip on medium speed until the meringue has cooled to room temperature. Don’t overwhip or it will become grainy and ruin the mousses texture.
  6. While the meringue is whipping, remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and whip again briefly if it has become watery. Once the meringue is cool (don’t cheat— warm meringue will melt the whipped cream and transform your mousse into a soup), quickly fold about ⅓ of the meringue into the chocolate, then quickly fold in the rest. Fold in the whipped cream.
  7. Scrape the mousse over the pastry layer in the prepared pan. Smooth the top and use a wide spatula to carefully transfer the second layer to the pan. Gently press with your fingertips to make the layer adhere to the mousse. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about 8 hours, or overnight, to set the mousse. Keep the filled Napoleon chilled no longer than 4 hours before you intend to serve it.
  8. To unmold the pastry, grasp opposite ends of the foil lining the pan and lift it to a cutting board. This is best done by two people, with each one lifting a corner of the foil in each hand. Fold the foil down, away from the sides of the mousse, and run a long knife or a spatula underneath, between the pastry and the foil, to loosen it. Carefully peel away the foil so that the pastry is on the cutting board.
  9. Use a long, sharp serrated knife to trim the sides even. Then gently saw through the top layer straight through the filling and the bottom layer—cutting the pastry into 2- or 3- inch (5- or 7½-cm) squares. Remember to wipe the knife clean between each cut.
  10. Sprinkle the tops of the pastries with confectioners’ sugar and then a tiny bit of cocoa powder.


Line up the finished pastries on a platter. Keep them at a cool room temperature for several hours before serving. You could serve some berries on the side, but this dessert doesn’t need accompaniment.


Wrap and chill leftovers and bring them to room temperature before serving again.