Paris-Brest is a pastry I’ve seen pictures of before but didn’t know what it was called or why it was called Paris-Brest! Sad to say, we never tried it in Paris…and definitely missed out!
There was a chef named Louis Durand back in 1910 who created this delicious dessert to celebrate the famous Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race. The shape is meant to resemble a bicycle wheel and has become a French classic found in pâtisseries everywhere.
Apparently, the original recipe is kept secret, so the only place you can get a genuine Paris-Brest is from Pâtisserie Durand located in Maisons-Laffitte, France; however, I have a feeling most Paris-Brest’s are pretty close to the true recipe.
I was so excited to make this!
Difficulty: 2/5. I feel like the difficulty has been getting easier the more I’m making pâte á choux over and over again lol!
How long it took me: About 4 hours. I made the hazelnut praline paste a day in advance and it took 1 hour, then approximately 3 hours to make the pastry cream/hazelnut mousseline and pâte á choux
Paris-Brest starts out with a ring of pâte à choux. The shell is topped with flaked almonds prior to baking…or thickly sliced in my case haha (I forgot to buy sliced almonds and had to cut my own…cutting almonds thinly is very difficult when you’re trying to not lose a finger)!
I’ll be honest…I forgot to add almonds prior to baking this time! The above photos are from 2018…and below is now 🙂
A little less burnt this time lol!
The pastry ring is sliced horizontally…
…and filled with pastry cream and hazelnut mousseline, which is truly one of God’s gifts to mankind. Hazelnut mousseline is hazelnut praline paste that’s whipped into softened butter and pastry cream. It makes a light hazelnut-y pastry cream and is phenemonal. It’s my all-time favorite filling for any type of pastry or doughnut ♥︎
Hazelnut praline paste consists of hazelnuts, vanilla bean, water, sugar, and cocoa butter. Personally, I call hazelnut praline paste hazelnut butter because it has the consistency of peanut butter but you use hazelnuts instead 🙂 .
You start out by caramelizing the hazelnuts. To do this, first the hazelnuts are baked on silpat/parchment for 30 minutes until toasted. Then, the vanilla bean seeds and pod are added to the water and sugar in a saucepan. Once it starts boiling and turns golden brown, you add the hazelnuts, stir for 15 seconds, add the cocoa butter, stir for 15 seconds, and then dump it onto a silpat. Let it dry, and that part is done!
You can see above that my caramelized hazelnuts turned out a tad crystallized…this means that I probably waited too long before adding the hazelnuts to the caramel OR my cocoa butter was expired. Both are definitely possible…but even if you use crystallized hazelnuts, hazelnut butter is absolutely fantastic! And who am I kidding, crystallized hazelnuts remind me of the texture of cinnamon almonds you get at the fair!
Part 2 is super duper simple. You literally put the caramelized hazelnuts into a food processor and blend it until you get the consistency of peanut butter!
At this point, you eat the entire container of hazelnut butter ♥︎♥︎♥︎ Just kidding. But not really…but really, at this point, you add a bit of softened butter to the pastry cream and whip it…whip it real good 🎵
You can see I didn’t quite soften the butter enough. Easy fix! Use a double boiler until those little buggers melt, then immediately take off the heat. I placed it back in the fridge to stiffen up a bit.
Hazelnut praline paste is then added to the pastry cream…don’t eat it all!
The cream is then piped with a 1/2-inch star tip into little swirls.
Oops, again, the above photo is from 2018…I forgot to take a current photo of this step, so you get to see our old gross countertops again lol!
The upper crust is dusted with powdered sugar, and it’s ready to be eaten! The below photo is again from 2018…I went a little crazy with the powdered sugar!
Don’t they look like heaven though???
I obviously couldn’t wait for the pastry cream to stiffen up before putting one of these together!
They look way more put together and stay more put together if the pastry cream is cold 🙂 Super delicious though!
I also made a large Paris-Brest, just for fun. Normally there is actually a second ring placed on top, which would obviously make it more beautiful and eye-catching, but I didn’t know that at the time.
It wasn’t as pretty nor as easy to eat as the small ones. Or as easy to cut. Oh well.
So what did I learn? Considering I already knew how to make pâte á choux and pastry cream, I learned all about the wrong ways of making caramelized hazelnuts and came to find out that hazelnut mousseline is my absolute favorite. This isn’t a recipe I’d use for a family gathering considering they can get pretty soggy; however, I have used the hazelnut mousseline in countless recipes since making these which made this recipe 100% worth my time ♥︎