Califonia Bountiful

Banana Napoleon with warm caramel walnut sauce

Here's a classic Napoleon recipe that features the traditional puff pastry and chantilly cream, along with a sweet addition: bananas and a caramel walnut sauce.

Chef Emily Luchetti
Waterbar Restaurant, San Francisco

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About 14 oz. puff pastry (store-bought is fine)

Caramel walnut sauce
3 oz. (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup (4 oz.) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

4 bananas, peeled and sliced on the diagonal 1/2 inch thick (see note)
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. dark rum (optional)
1 recipe Chantilly Cream (recipe at bottom)


Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out puff pastry about 1/16 inch thick. With the tines of a fork, make holes about 1/8 inch apart all over the pastry. Using a sharp knife, cut pastry into twelve 4-by-3-inch rectangles. Roll enough pastry so you have 12 pieces. Place pastry rectangles on prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Place baking sheets in the freezer. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake pastry rectangles until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets to room temperature.

To make the sauce: In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in brown and granulated sugars and cook, stirring frequently, until sugars are melted, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and vanilla and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in walnuts.

To assemble the napoleons: In a bowl, gently stir together banana slices, lemon juice and rum. Place 1 pastry rectangle on each of 6 plates. Spoon some of the bananas on top of the pastry and then some chantilly cream. Drizzle the caramel walnut sauce over the cream and bananas. Place a second pastry rectangle on top. Serve immediately.

In advance: The caramel walnut sauce may be made 3 days ahead, covered, refrigerated and then reheated gently just before serving. Do not add the walnuts until reheating, or they will become soggy. You may bake the pastry rectangles several hours in advance of serving, but keep them in an airtight container at room temperature so they remain crisp. Slice bananas and assemble napoleons just before serving.

Serves 6

Note: You can use other fruits in place of bananas. Just follow the traditional recipe, adding a thin layer of berries on top of the cream filling. You can use raspberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries, blackberries… or anything that suits your fancy!

Chantilly cream
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients and whisk until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until you are ready to use.

Makes 2 cups

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