The Cooking Chook does Christmas – Paris-Brest
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!!!!! I hope that you all are having a wonderful day so far and Santa Claus has brought you some awesome pressies! I thought I’d sneak in a quick post to show you what I’ve made for Christmas lunch dessert this year. I picked this particular recipe for two reasons: 1) the name indicates that it’s a French dessert, and I love all things Frenchy, and 2) the Paris-Brest looks a lot like a wreath so it ties in well with the Christmassy theme. What I didn’t know about the Paris-Brest is the history of the dessert. The Paris-Brest was created back in 1891 to commemorate the Paris-Brest cycling race, and the shape represents a bicycle wheel (Wikipedia). I’m a huge fan of cycling, so I was a little excited about this bit of trivia and it made the dessert even more appropriate to make. Traditionally, the Paris-Brest is made of choux pastry and filled with a praline cream, but this particular adaptation utilises the availability of berries that are currently in season in Australia. So, there’s a little bit of Frenchy and a little bit of Aussie in this dessert. Perfect, huh? This dessert should serves about 6 people.
300ml thickened cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbs Amaretto
1 cup (150g) pure icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
250g punnet strawberries, quartered
125g punnet raspberries
125g punnet blueberries
½ cup (40g) flaked almonds, toasted
100g unsalted butter
½ cup (125ml) milk
½ cup (125ml) water
1 tsp pure icing sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 200°C (fan-forced). Draw an 18cm circle in the middle of the baking paper, then flip the paper over (I used a plate as a template). Pop the baking paper on a baking tray.
To make the choux pastry, melt the butter with the milk and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Chuck in the flour and icing sugar, and beat with a wooden spoon until a dough forms and comes away from the sides of the saucepan. Transfer the pastry dough to a heat-proof bowl to cool for about 15 minutes. To help the cooling process, I spread the dough out over the bottom of the bowl.
Lightly beat 4 of the eggs, and gradually add the egg to the choux pastry 1 tbs at a time, beating after each addition until you have a thick and glossy paste. Don’t be tempted to add in the eggs all at once because your pastry dough may end up too runny. There may be a possibility that you won’t use up all of the eggs, depending on how large the eggs are. Transfer the pastry dough to a piping bag fitted with a 2cm plain, round nozzle.
Pipe the choux dough in a ring over the circle that you traced on the baking paper, then pipe another ring on the inside making sure that the 2 rings are touching. Pipe another ring on top of the first 2 where they meet. If there are any uneven bits, use your finger or a palette knife dipped in cold water to smooth the dough out. Lightly beat the last egg, and brush over the dough.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°C and bake for a further 30 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Turn off the oven and allow the pastry to cool in the oven with the door slightly open.
To make the filling, beat the cream, vanilla bean paste, Amaretto and 1 tbs of icing sugar with an electric beater until soft peaks form.
Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the pastry ring in half horizontally. Remove any uncooked dough from the pastry. Spoon the cream mixture onto the bottom half of the ring, and top with the berries. Place the pastry lid on top of the berries.
To make the icing, sift what’s left of the icing sugar (140g) into a bowl and add 1-2 tbs of water. Whisk until the icing is smooth, then drizzle all of the pastry. Scatter the toasted almonds over the top, and dust with some extra icing sugar before serving.
Note: I’ve made some slight amendments to the original recipe. The original recipe is a Katie Quinn Davies recipe that was featured in the latest issue of Delicious (December 2013/January 2014), which is still on sale now.