Week 154: Paris-Brest

The best thing about the Lunar New Year long weekend was that I finally got to bake these individual Paris-Brest. I am never confident with choux and was thankful to have @theboxerchef, who bakes chouquettes quite regularly, over for a baking session. We decided to follow the recipe in Pierre Hermé’s Pastries book.

We were initially a little suspicious of the strange baking method suggested in the book. But the choux puffed up very nicely indeed!

And while we had some issue with the mousseline, as the syrup was not boiled to the required temperature, it all worked out nicely on the second try. The texture of the mousseline was light and luxurious at the same time, unlike anything I’ve tried before.

Makes 12 individual choux rings

For the choux paste

100g still mineral water

100g whole milk

4g granulated sugar

4g fleur de sel

90g unsalted butter

110g plain flour

200g eggs (approximately 4)

50g pearl sugar

50g chopped almonds

1) Preheat a convection oven to 200C.

2) In a saucepan, bring the water, milk, sugar, salt and butter to a boil.

3) Add all the flour at once and continue to beat hard with a wooden spoon until the paste is smooth and shiny and until the paste pulls away from the sides of the pan.

4) Transfer the paste to the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, continue to beat until paste has cool down to room temperature.

5) Incorporate the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next.

6) Transfer the paste to a piping bag fitted with a large French star tip.

7) Prepare 2 to 3 baking parchments, with 12 circles of 7 cm in diameter drawn on the bottom side down.

8) Pipe the paste inside the circles. Then sprinkle the pearl sugar and chopped almonds onto the choux rings.

9) Place the baking sheet in the oven immediately and turn it off. After 10 minutes, turn the oven back on at 170C and continue baking for about 30 minutes. For the last 10 minutes, wedge the oven door open with a wooden spoon.

10) Remove the choux and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the caramelised chopped hazelnuts

300g blanched whole hazelnuts

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

50g still mineral water

150g granulated sugar

Dash of fleur de sel

1) Toast the hazelnuts in an oven preheated at 160C for 20 minutes.

2) Cook vanilla bean paste, water and sugar to 118C then add the hazelnuts.

3) Remove from heat and stir the nuts until the sugar has crystallised.

4) Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook until the syrup darkens to a deep amber color. Sprinkle it with salt and pour it out immediately onto a silicon mat. Set aside to cool.

5) Coarsely chopped 80gs of the nuts and keep the rest for another recipe.

For the pastry cream

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

125g whole milk

30g granulated sugar

5g pastry cream powder

5g plain flour

30g egg yolks

12g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) Bring the vanilla paste, milk and sugar to a boil.

2) Whisk pastry cream powder, flour and egg yolks in a bowl and temper with hot cream.

3) Pour mixture back into a saucepan on low heat and continue whisking until mixture has thicken and come to a boil.

4) Remove the cream from heat, and cool it down by placing the saucepan in a larger bowl filled with water.

5) When the cream has cooled down to 60C, add the butter and whisk to incorporate.

For the hazelnut praline mousseline cream

20g still mineral water

50g granulated sugar

30g egg yolks

150g eggs

135g unsalted butter, at room temperature

90g hazelnut praline paste

200g pastry cream

1) In a saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Continue to cook the syrup until 121C.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk, beat the egg yolks and whole eggs until pale and frothy. Add the syrup while beating and continue to beat until the mixture has cooled completely.

3) In a clean mixer bowl, whisk the butter until creamy.

4) While whisking, incorporate the egg mixture then the hazelnut praline paste. Beat until smooth, then incorporate the pastry cream, and beat until the mixture is completely smooth.

5) Transfer cream to a piping bag fitted with a large French star tip. Slice the choux rings horizontally and pipe the cream onto the bottom ring. Then sprinkle the chopped caramelised hazelnuts before placing the top of the ring.

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