On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry to 1/16-inch thick. Transfer pastry to a parchment-lined sheet pan and trim edges. With a fork prick surface all over and chill for 30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover pastry with a second piece of parchment paper and weight down with a second sheet pan. Bake pastry for 10 minutes. Remove top sheet pan and parchment and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer pastry to a cooling rack.
Make the filling: In a heavy saucepan combine the heavy cream, milk, and sugar. Using a knife scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the milk mixture and add the whole bean. Bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and allow to steep for one hour. Discard the bean or reserve for another use.
Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Whisk the yolks into the cooled milk mixture and strain through a fine sieve into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Place the dish in a larger roasting pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the dish. Bake custard for 3/4 to 1 hour until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. let cool; cover and chill for several hours or overnight. To assemble: Transfer pastry to a flat surface. Using a ruler measure out three 3 1/2 x 11-inch strips. With a serrated knife carefully cut the pastry using a gentle sawing motion. With a paring knife cut the custard into two 3 1/2 x 11-inch strips and cut each strip in half crosswise. With a long, wide offset spatula transfer a piece of custard onto a strip of pastry, covering half of it. Transfer a second piece of custard to fill the first layer. Top with a second strip of pastry, smooth side up, and repeat process. If necessary, smooth the sides of the napoleon with a knife so that they are stacked neatly.
Using a serrated knife carefully slice the napoleon into individual serving pieces. Sift confectioner's sugar over the napoleon to form a thick coating. Heat skewers on stovetop burner until red-hot and brand the sugar with cross hatch marks.
Recommended drink: 1993 Passito di Pantelleria, Nuova Agricoltura
Recipe courtesy of David Rosengarten