The tompouce, or tompoes, is a traditional Dutch pastry that is often served with afternoon coffee or at celebratory events like birthdays. It's similar to what's known as a Napoleon here in the United States, Napoleonbakelse in Sweden and Finland, and Napoleon-cake in Norway and Denmark. In Holland and Belgium it is called a tompoes, or tompouce (Tom Thumb). The odd coincidence that both Napoleon (Bonaparte) and Tom Thumb were vertically challenged may not be such a coincidence after all, but I would have to look into that a little further. Other countries, with perhaps less inclination towards fairy tale or historic nomenclature, just call the pastries custard or vanilla slices. What sets the Dutch variety apart is the sickeningly sweet Peptobismol-esque pink icing, often topped with a complimentary white stripe of whipped cream, as if the caloric content from the pastry itself was not enough.
It's a pastry that is much favored by all and, as the national sense of humor dictates, is the traditional choice for being served when one is visiting with one's family inlaws for the first time or when one has to make a good impression of oneself and is now challenged with having to eat a pastry that is going to fall to pieces the moment one bites into one end. Both the tompoes and the Bossche Bol, which I'll bake sometime soon, are the two top pastries that are a devil to eat, either by hand or with cutlery, without making an absolute mess.
But in case you were in a situation where manners do not matter, the easiest way to consume this lovely baked good is to grab the bottom layer firmly between thumb and index and attack it, one bite at a time, short side first.
1 cup of milk
1 vanilla bean (or 1 tablespoon of vanilla flavoring)
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
pinch of salt
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Warm the milk, add the vanilla bean and steep for 15 minutes. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar, add the salt and add flour, one tablespoon. Stir until creamy.
Take the vanilla bean out of the milk, open it up and scrape out the seeds (or add the vanilla essence to the milk) and stir. Take one tablespoon of warm milk and stir it into the egg yolk mix, then stir in the rest of the flour. Carefully stir all this back into the warm milk into the pan, put it back on a low heat and stir until it becomes a thick mass. Take off the stove and cover with a piece of plastic, to avoid forming a skin when it cools down.
Heat the oven to 400F. Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray. Cut the puff pastry sheet in 4 equal rectangular sections and place them on the baking sheet. Brush the top with the beaten egg and bake for fifteen minutes, or until the dough has puffed up and is golden brown. Remove from the oven, and taking care not to burn your fingers, quickly and carefully pull the top from the bottom sheet. Set all eight pieces aside on a rack to cool.
For the icing
3 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of milk
1 drop of red food coloring
Mix the sugar with one teaspoon of milk and the food coloring. Stir until blended, then add the remaining milk to make a quick icing.
Take the bottom part of one of the baked puff pastries and spread the cooled down vanilla cream on it. Top it with its corresponding top half of the pastry. When all four are done, carefully spread the pink icing on top: let it dry and eat!