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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Paris-Brest

After making éclairs, I started looking up other pastries that are made using similar techniques and ingredients.  I stumbled on the Paris-Brest.  It's history is all over the internet, so a quick search can give you the details on the name and story.  Of course, my primary interest was how to make it and how does it taste.  It's made with the same dough used for cream puffs and éclairs, piped in round, bagel-like shapes, filled with mousseline cream, and dusted with powdered sugar.  Lots of steps, none of them hard.  


The first thing was making praline paste.  It is available online, but not commonly available in grocery stores in the US.  To make it, you caramelize sugar, pour it over hazelnuts and almonds.  Once it is cool, you process it in to a peanut butter consistency.  This is then added to pastry cream and chilled.  Then, you add in extra butter to make it into a buttercream type frosting/filling called mousseline cream.


The rounds are piped in three circles.  You can use a round or star tip from what I saw during my research.  They are sometimes piped very large to make a pastry the size of a 8 or 9 inch cake, but, more often, they seem to be made about the size of a doughnut.  You top them with sliced almonds before baking.  There is also a single plain ring piped (not pictured) for each pastry.  This is nestled between the cut halves when you assemble.  It gives the pastry height and structure with out throwing off the pastry to cream balance.


Once baked and cooled, they are sliced and filled with the cream.  My cream wasn't very firm as it approached room temperature, so I would only serve it straight from the fridge.


Consensus... they are delicious and very, very rich.  I hope that I can find one in a pastry shop sometime (maybe in Paris ;) ), but I don't think I will make them again.  For the time and effort, I would prefer to make cream puffs or éclairs.  I might even fill them will a nutty filling (Nutella?) because the nuttiness with the choux dough was excellent, but, overall, it was a little more involved than something that I will do again.


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