This is the best dessert that I've tried recently. Yes, I do like choux pastry filled with cream, let's say Cream Puffs are my favorite thing in the world, but this one has brought it to another, higher level.
Everything is cool about Paris-Brest: the way how it was invented, puffy crust, filling with ground almond and caramel mixture, and the look. I have to say I prefer mini version because it is easy to serve; big ring can be challenging for cutting.
This dessert was invented more than hundred years ago, to celebrate famous bicycle tour in France, Paris-Brest-Paris. Cake had the shape of a bicycle wheel and quickly became popular among participants in biking event due to its high caloric value. Today, it can be found in patisseries throughout France.
I found this recipe here. When I saw Paris-Brest on that blog I knew immediately I had to make it.
You need for the choux pastry:
4.2oz (125ml) beaten eggs (2 to 3eggs)
4.2oz (125ml) water
2oz (62ml) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
2.6oz (75g) all-purpose flour
1.8oz (50g) butter
For almond-caramel mixture:
1.8oz (50g) sugar
2.1oz (60g) raw almond
For the filling:
8oz (240ml) milk
8oz (240ml) heavy cream
4 egg yolks
5.3oz (150g) sugar
1.5oz (40g) cornstarch
1.8oz (50g) butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream, optional
Heat sugar in a small pan over medium heat.When it's caramelized, but before it starts to burn, remove it from the heat and add almonds. Mix it together and spread the mixture over parchment paper. Let it cool down completely and then grind it in a food processor.
Preheat the oven to 395F (200C). Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 8 circles on the back side of the paper, about 4 inch in diameter. Prepare a piping bag with a third of an inch tip.
Put oil and water in a medium pan and bring it to boil. Add sugar and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in flour. Mix it using wooden spoon until you get consistent dough. Pour in beaten eggs and mix it until you get smooth and glossy mixture.
Put the dough in the piping bag. Trace the circles you already drew on parchment paper. Every mini puff should bi built of three piped circles, one outer, then inner and top one that crosses both. Or, use wider tip and make only one circle.
Place baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake them about 20 to 30 minutes, until the crust becomes puffy and golden brown. Do not open the oven until the pastry is done.
Cool puffs on cooling rack, and split them into halves using sharp knife.
In meantime, make the filling.
In a medium pan heat half of the milk (4oz) and heavy cream (8oz). Add vanilla extract. In another pan mix egg yolks with sugar and starch and then gradually add remaining 4oz of milk (it should be hot), while constantly stirring it. Then, pour that mixture into the first pan with hot milk and heavy cream. On low-medium heat cook the cream, stirring it continuously, until it thickens.
When the cream has consistency of pudding, remove it from the heat. Stir in butter. Place the pan with the cream on a large shallow dish filled with ice. That is the best way to cool the cream quickly. When the cream is cooled completely add ground almond-caramel mixture and stir everything well.
Fill the choux rings with the cream using piping bag. Optionally, add whipped cream over the cream.
Dust the rings with powdered sugar before serving. Keep Paris-Breast covered in a fridge.