Paris-Brest

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Written by Ben

One other pastry I never find it in Seoul is the Paris-Brest.
It is a ring shaped choux filled with hazelnut praline paste flavored mousseline.
When it is well made, like a good eclair or religieuse, the choux part is a little bit crusty (not soggy) on top and soft inside. The hazelnut praline flavored mousseline shouldn’t be stiff like I experienced a lot in France, because there is butter in the mousseline and bakeries have to let sit them in the refrigerated display… So it hardens. It should be fluffy and the hazelnut flavor should just pop in your mouth.
The one I made got the approval of my sister in law and one of their friend and also my spoiled  coworkers. The hazelnut praline mousseline is highly addictive.

To make it, I followed the recipe of jackie pfeiffer, in his book named “art of french pastry”. I recommend to read his book if you are a pastry enthusiastic.

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With this recipe, you can make around 15 Paris-Brest.
I made you a summary of the book recipes needed to make these ones.
Lets start by making the hazelnut praline paste.
You can also buy it at Bangsan market if you don’t have a food processor.
PRALINE PASTE :
Hazelnut, skinned, 200g

Vanilla bean, 1/4 bean
Water, 40 grams
Granulated sugar, 135 grams
Cocoa butter, or clarified butter (foreign mart), 3 grams

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Microwave the nut for one minute. Or put them in the oven if you don’t have a microwave, like me.
It is important to warm up enough the nuts. If not, the syrup will seize up but do not cook them.

Split the vanilla and scrape the seeds. Combine the seeds, pod with the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil it for one minute. Turn off the heat. You should have a clear syrup. No need to stir.

Add the hot nuts in the syrup and stir with a rubber spatula. Be sure your spatula is heat resistant or it will melt in your caramel. The sugar should turn white and crystalize around the nuts.
Once it is crystalized around the nuts, tirn the heat back on and wait one minute, time for the sugar to melt again.
Now, stir continuously until the end of the process. The thing is to allow the hot sugar caramelize and roast the nuts to the inside.
If you see some smoke, remove the saucepan from the heat immediately, reduce the heat and let it cool for a couple of second.
Once the sugar turned into a golden caramel, you can pick-up one hazelnut carefully and open it to see if it is golden brown all the way trough the center. If not, put it back on the stove. Add the cocoa or clarified butter and stir it.
Dump the nut in a big pile onto a sheet pan and fill it with water. Remove the vanilla pod.
Separate the nuts with your hands. If you don’t burn yourself, put some latex glove or use 2 spoons. The trick is to separate them before the pile solidify into a rock.

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Put the caramelized hazelnut in your food processor and mix it till it transforms into a paste.

PATE A CHOUX :
Whole milk, 125 grams
Water, 125 grams
Butter, 110 grams
Sea salt, a pinch
All purpose flour, 140 grams
Whole eggs, 4 to 5 eggs, as needed
Egg Wash (1 egg + milk 5 grams + a small pinch of salt)

Preheat your oven at 200 degrees C. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a saucepan, combine milk, water, butter, sugar and salt.
Stir it with a spatula or wooden spoon and when it is melted enough exchange spatula or spoon with a whisk. Bring to a full boil and turn off the heat.
Add the flour to the liquid mixture in a quick addition and vigorously whisk. After 30 seconds of whisking, you should have a uniform mass.
Place the pan back on medium heat, switch back to the spatula or spoon, stirring until dry, for about 1 minute. It allows the protein in the flour to cook. It is ready when a film start to form on the saucepan.
Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer it to a bowl. Beat it with a mixer, kitchen aid or even by hand with a big whisk till it is lukewarm. It allow the mixture to cool down quickly and let the steam escape.
Add the eggs to the mixture, one by one. If it is too dry, add the fifth egg.
It shouldn’t be too liquid but also not too stiff.
Transfer your dough into a pastry bag and pipe 2 inch rings.
Bake it at 200 degrees C for 10 to 15 minutes until it rises. Then turn down the oven to 160 degrees C and bake for another 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.

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HAZELNUT MOUSSELINE :
Make a pastry cream :
Milk, 125 grams (1/2 cup )
Butter, 12-13 grams
Vanilla 1/4 bean
Cornstarch 5 grams
Sugar, 32 grams
Egg yolks 30 grams

In a saucepan, combine all but 1/8 cup of the milk, the butter, half of the sugar, the vanilla. Place on medium heat and stir with a whisk.
In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch and the flour with the remaining 16 grams of sugar. Add the remaining milk and the egg yolks.
When the milk mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat. Whisk half of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Strain this mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk on medium heat. Whisk constantly till it start to thicken.
Transfer the pastry cream onto a sheet pan. Flatten the pastry cream, wrap it and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
When you need to use it, you can use hand blender to smooth it out and have a creamy texture.

After, you make the mousseline :
You need 90 grams of softened butter and 80 grams of your hazelnut praline paste.
mix the cold pastry cream, butter and praline paste with your mixer on high speed till you get a nice emulsion.
Transfer the mousseline into a pastry bag.

ASSEMBLING :
Cut each choux in half with a serated knife.
Pipe swirls. You can dust them with powdered sugar.
Refrigerate for about 1 hour.

It is better when it is served freshly made.

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