You may recall that last year I made this Chocolate and Orange Trifle using choux puffs instead of sponge cake for Christmas pudding. I absolutely loved that it said Christmas and festive without being either fruitcake or fruit pudding.
Actually, I mostly loved that I could make the choux puffs in advance and freeze them, which freed up the oven for all the other lunch trimmings demanding space on Christmas Day. This year, I couldn’t quite seem to get away from revisiting my love affair with choux pastry at Christmas time, and so, ta da… as this year’s pièce de résistance, may I present my Almond Paris-Brest.
This particular pastry was created in 1910 by a pastry chef whose pastry shop sat on the route of a 1200km bicycle race in France which began in 1891, and ran from Paris to Brest and back again. This bicycle race is still held every four years, but is also the original inspiration for the Tour de France. Anyway, as the dessert was created to commemorate the race, its circular shape is actually representative of a bicycle wheel. The Paris-Brest apparently became popular with riders on the cycle race, partly because of its energizing high caloric value.
Hmm, well fortunately for us it is Christmas after all.
I searched high and I searched low looking for hazelnuts with which to make hazelnut praline for the filling. It took me a while to remember the global hazelnut crop failure. (I blame my age.) My search however was not fruitless because it did lead me into a lovely health store at which I found a bottle of Roasted Almond ButtaNutt Tree Nut Spread. If you have not yet tried this range, you should, it is so great. Look, I agree, it is certainly not cheap, but then as you also well know, nuts are really not cheap.
Praline problem solved, I bought a bottle and included about 60g of the Roasted almond spread into my crème patisserie. If you cannot find this particular brand, Tannie Woolie does stock a range of varied nut butters too. The result was truly fabulous and I am still feeling rather smug that I have managed yet again to find a decidely festive Christmas pudding which contains absolutely zero fruit mince.
Today is eleven days before Christmas. ELEVEN! Are you ready? Are all your pressies bought? Is your menu ready? Are YOU ready for Christmas? No? Well then you my friend, like me, have much to do this week.
Have a holly jolly week.
- 85 g butter
- 250 ml (1 C) cake flour
- 1 ml (¼ t) salt
- 250 ml (1 C) water
- 4 eggs
- 65 ml (¼ C) flaked almonds
- 500 ml (2 C) milk
- 1 vanilla pod, sliced in half (or 1 tsp. vanilla essence)
- 35 g flour
- 35 g corn flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 150 g sugar
- 125 ml ( ½ c) cream
- 60 g Roasted Almond ButtaNut Tree Nut Spread
- Place water and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Cook until butter melts and the mixture just comes to the boil.
- Add all the flour to the butter mixture at once.
- Use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined.
- Return to the stove over a low heat and bring the mixture into a ball.
- Continue rolling the dough around the saucepan for a few minutes until it is smooth and takes on a slight shine.
- Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
- Place the dough into a mixer.
- Whisk the eggs together.
- Add the eggs to the dough on medium speed.
- Beat until the dough incorporates all the egg and is glossy.
- The dough will be a pipe-able consistency.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Draw a circle using a template or bowl to guide you.
- Pipe one circle on the perimeter of the circle line.
- Pipe a second circle inside of the first.
- Pipe a third circle on top of the first two.
- Use a sharp knife to make small slits in the top circle of dough.
- Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
- Bake the Paris Brest in an oven that has been preheated oven to 190˚C for 30 minutes or until the Paris Brest is puffed and golden.
- Remove from the oven and pierce the sides of the Paris Brest to release the steam.
- Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
- Place the milk in a saucepan, scrape in the vanilla seeds and drop in the vanilla pod. Heat to just boiling.
- In a bowl place the flour, corn flour, eggs and egg yolks and whisk well.
- Pour the hot milk over the egg mixture and whisk to mix into custard.
- Strain the custard back into the pot and whisk continuously over a medium heat until thickened.
- Cook for a few minutes more before whisking in the cream.
- Allow to cool completely.
- Whizz the crème patisserie with a hand blender to loosen the custard.
- Fold in the almond butter.
- Place the crème patisserie into a piping bag.
- Slice the Paris Brest horizontally in half.
- Slice the top of the Paris Brest into quarters and remove each quarter.
- Pipe or spoon the almond crème patisserie onto the base of the Paris Brest.