Asian-Style Strawberry Napoleon Recipe (Mille-feuille Fraise Noix de Coco Dessert)

Asian-Style Strawberry Napoleon Recipe (Mille-feuille Fraise Noix de Coco Dessert) Recipe

Mille-feuille, called "Napoleon" in the U.S., is a very popular French dessert. Traditionally [according to Wikipedia], a mille-feuille is made up of three layers of puff pastry, alternating with two layers of cream pâtissière, but sometimes whipped cream or jam. The top is usually glazed with icing or fondant in alternating white (icing) and brown (chocolate) strips, and combed.

I’ve made traditional mille-feuilles many times before, and I was in the mood for a change. I assembled a gluten-free version using layers of Vietnamese coconut paper called bánh phông sữa. They are paper-thin sheets made of coconut milk, sugar, cassava and condensed milk. I flavored the dessert with fresh strawberries and a coulis de fraise, which is a strawberry sauce. This dessert is bake-free and so easy to create, that I had the girls do the assembly. They had so much fun putting them together and even more making them disappear!


Yields: 12 servings

9 bánh phông sữa (Vietnamese coconut sheets), separated and cut into quarters
1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
1 teaspoon strawberry extract (optional)
2 pounds fresh strawberries
6 tablespoons superfine sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
1-½ cups heavy whipping cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla powder
juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup powdered sugar
12 fresh mint leaves, for garnish


Cooking the bánh phông sữa:

Heat a flat griddle pan. Dry-toast each quarter until soft and slightly golden. Transfer to a large serving platter lined with paper towels. Allow to cool completely; the bánh phông sữa will have a crispy texture. If you plan to prepare the dessert in advance, carefully place the coconut sheets in an airtight container.

Prepping the strawberries:

Wash the strawberries and pat them dry in a kitchen towel. Stem the strawberries. Reserve 12 whole strawberries. Dice the rest into small chunks. Reserve ½ pound diced strawberries for the coulis de fraise. Place the diced strawberries in a bowl. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Drizzle with half of the lemon juice. Toss the strawberries to ensure they are well coated. Some juice will form at the bottom of the bowl. Toss occasionally. Let stand at room temperature for at least 10-15 minutes. Check the sweetness of the strawberries; sprinkle a little more sugar if necessary.

Making strawberry sauce (coulis de fraise):

Place ½ pound strawberries in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the pulp through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the solids. Add ¼ cup sugar, the remaining lemon juice, 1/3 cup water and ½ teaspoon coconut extract (if used). Set aside.

For the mascarpone:

In a mixing bowl, whisk the mascarpone cheese to soften it. Add the vanilla powder, salt and strawberry and coconut extracts (if used).

Clean your handheld mixer in hot soapy water. Just make sure the beater blades are completely clean prior to whipping the cream for optimal results. The whipping cream should be whipped cold. Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks. Add 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar.

Reserve 1/3 whipped cream for garnish later.

Using a silicone spatula, gently fold the remaining sweetened whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to get an airy batter.

Plastic-wrap the container and place in the refrigerator until the rest of the components of the dessert are ready.

Assembly time:

Drizzle strawberry sauce onto each individual serving dessert plate.

Place the mascarpone filling in a piping bag. Pipe or spoon the filling onto the dessert plates, forming a circle. Fill the center with diced strawberries and a drizzle of strawberry sauce. Stack a layer of bánh phông sữa. Repeat the same procedure until you reach the third coconut sheet. Add a dollop of the reserved whipped cream. Top with a whole strawberry, more whipped cream. Decorate with a mint leaf and dust with powdered sugar.

Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!


For more recipes using mascarpone cheese, coconut and strawberries, click on the links.

I prefer using superfine sugar. It's fine-grained sugar and it dissolves much more quickly than the regular granulated kind.

I usually add a little salt to most desserts. Salt brings out all the flavors and will enhance the taste of your sweets.

If you have extra mascarpone and a little leftover coffee from the morning, you can make my mother-in-law's favorite dessert, a tiramisu parfait.

Bánh phông sữa can be found in any Asian markets. I received them from my uncle who lives in Vietnam. I used durian-flavored coconut sheets for the girls and myself and regular coconut bánh phông sữa for my husband Lulu who dislikes durian!

Banh Phong Sua Recipe with Picture

I buy pure vanilla powder at my local market. It's called the Milk Pail Market. The address is 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040. You can also find it online.

You could also prepare the filling several hours in advance and assemble the dessert at the last minute.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on July 23, 2010.


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