Today is a very special day. It’s been one year since I started writing The Tasty Bite! When I first decided to blog, my hope was to have a place where I could share recipes with my family and friends (thereby, putting a stop to my constant in-person rambling about food and cooking – sorry guys!) 365 days later, I find it hard to believe that we’ve gone through 86 recipes together! This little space has given me tons of joy and satisfaction, so I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the time to read my blog posts and try my recipes, and for making the first year of The Tasty Bite a great one!
Now that we’re heading into the second year, I hope to step out of my comfort zone and write about interesting ingredients and cooking techniques.
It only seems fitting that there is something sweet for this birthday celebration. If I were to open a bakery, one thing that must appear on the menu is a variation of choux pastry: profiteroles, éclairs, croquembouches, or perhaps, Paris Brest. They’re all so elegant, delicious, and versatile enough to be filled with whatever you want.
Basically, making Paris Brest starts off with pâte à choux, a cooked dough. It’s a good technique to master, because once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can move onto other desserts that use this type of dough, like churros (Mmmm…dipped in Valrhona chocolate sauce…) or even, something savory like cheese gougères. Instead of making Paris Brest in the shape of the traditional ring- by piping the dough in two concentric circles and one on top in between the two circles- I piped them in mounds catenated into a ring. I wanted to show you the piping method for cream puffs; leave enough room in between (they don’t expand much when cooked, so about two inches should be fine) and you’re essentially making cream puffs.
Paris Brest (recipe for pâte à choux)
(Makes one 8-inch pastry ring)
Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe
1 cup milk
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs
Chopped hazelnuts or sliced almonds, optional
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw an eight-inch circle on the parchment paper (the side you’re not baking on) to use as a guide when piping the pastry.
Place milk, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until scalded. When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes until the dough pulls away from the side of the saucepan and a smooth dough ball is formed. Transfer the dough to an electric stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat on low speed for one minute to release the steam from the dough. Once the dough is lukewarm, add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick shiny paste.
Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round or star tip. Pipe in mounds 1½-inches wide and 1-inch high onto baking sheet, making sure they are touching each other, and using the drawn circle as a guide.
With moistened finger, lightly press down the swirl at the top of each puff. With a pastry brush, gently brush the egg wash on the top and sides of the dough. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then turn off the oven and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Set aside to cool.
To assemble, cut the pastry ring in half horizontally and remove any wet pieces of dough. Spoon or pipe praline cream into the hollow center, replace the top half of the pastry ring, and dust with powdered sugar.
*In order to keep the pastry fresh, I like to assemble the Paris Brest and fill it with cream shortly before serving.
Hazelnut Praline Cream
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsps unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup hazelnut praline paste
1 cup heavy cream
Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. In a large heat-safe bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until slightly pale. Add in the cornstarch, salt, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture while whisking, transfer the mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over low heat while stirring with a whisk until slightly thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (touching the surface of the custard to prevent a film from forming), and let cool. Once it is at room temperature, whip with an electric mixer until smooth and fold in butter and praline paste. Beat the heavy cream to soft peaks and then gently fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.