Paris Brest


  • Serves 10 people

"I think Paris Brest is just about the most impressive dessert you can make with choux pastry," says Ingram. "I've made these small, but you can pipe a large round to make a centrepiece Paris Brest. Like many French pastries, Paris Brest is steeped in history, having been created in 1910 to honour the famous bicycle race. Its circular shape represents a wheel and was first eaten by riders from the race before becoming popular all over France." Start this recipe a day ahead to make the pastry cream.

  • 90 ml milk
  • 75 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 125 gm plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 50 gm flaked almonds
  • Coffee and hazelnut pastry cream
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 60 ml espresso
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 100 gm caster sugar
  • 40 gm plain flour
  • 40 gm chocolate hazelnut paste, such as Nutella
  • 100 ml pouring cream
  • 100 gm thick mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • Hazelnut praline
  • For greasing: canola oil spray
  • 100 gm caster sugar
  • 20 gm liquid glucose
  • 100 gm blanched hazelnuts
01   For coffee and hazelnut pastry cream, bring milk and espresso to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, whisk yolks and sugar in a bowl, add flour and whisk until fluffy (1-2 minutes). Stir a small ladleful of boiling milk mixture into yolk mixture and whisk to combine. Reduce heat to low then, whisking continuously, add yolk mixture to milk mixture and whisk until smooth. Continue to cook pastry cream until thick, stirring in a figure-8 pattern with a heatproof spatula so custard doesn’t catch on base of pan (2 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, whisk in chocolate hazelnut paste, cover directly with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming and refrigerate overnight. Whisk cream, mascarpone and vanilla in a bowl until just combined, then fold into pastry cream and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm fluted nozzle.
02   Preheat oven to 180C. Bring milk, butter and 90ml water to the boil with a pinch each of sugar and salt over medium heat. Add flour and stir over low heat until smooth (2 minutes). Transfer to an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until cool (2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well between additions, then spoon choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm fluted nozzle.
03   Line a baking tray with baking paper and draw 10 circles on the paper of about 6cm in diameter using a cutter or glass. Pipe choux pastry in a round, using the template as a guide, sealing the ends with a swift flick. Pipe a circle around the outside so they’re touching but not overlapping. Finally, pipe a circle of pastry over the join where the two circles touch (it’s important to pay attention to the joins; if they’re not closed properly they will burst open during baking). Sprinkle pastries with flaked almonds and bake for 10 minutes, then turn tray, reduce heat to 170C and bake until very crisp and golden brown (15-20 minutes). Set aside to cool.
04   Meanwhile, for hazelnut praline, grease a baking tray with canola oil spray. Bring sugar, glucose and 100ml water to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Use a clean pastry brush dipped in boiling water to dissolve sugar crystals around the side of the pan, and cook without stirring until mixture is a dark honey colour (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat, add hazelnuts, pour onto prepared tray, and stand to cool and set (20 minutes). Break into coarse pieces, then process in a food processor to crush.
05   To assemble, halve pastries horizontally. Pipe cream thickly over base so it has height, scatter with praline, than sandwich with tops and serve.
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