An Old Timey French Dessert: Le Paris Brest

I must be a person of habits. When I start making something, i like to do it, over and over again until I get tired of it, and then I move to something else. You may have noticed that  a few of my most recent entries have been about “choux” or puff pastries. Choux have always been one of my favorite. My most favorite dessert is, in fact,  “Religieuse au Cafe” or Coffee Religieuses. I love coffee so anything with coffee is therefore a treat. Religieuses  come in two flavors generally: chocolate and coffee;-).

Today I am proposing not la religieuse but another favorite dessert of mine: Le Paris Brest.

The Paris Brest is a pastry that was created in 1891 to commemorate the Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race. Its circular shape is representative of a wheel. It became popular with riders on the Paris-Brest cycle race, partly because of its energy-giving high calorific value, and is now found in pâtisseries all over France ( Wikipedia).

The Paris–Brest–Paris was originally a 1200km bicycle race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris. It is one of the oldest bicycling events still regularly run (the oldest being the Catford CC Hill Climb). The last time it was run as a race was 1951 ( Wikipedia).

The recipe that I am using comes from a book entitled ” Les Eclairs” des Editions Marabout. The recipe is fairly easy but takes many steps. You will want to make the cream first.

Creme Mousseline aux Noisetttes ( Hazelnut Mousseline Cream):

Ingredients: 350 gr. of creme patissiere, 120 gr. or one stick of butter, 60 gr. or 2.12 oz. of hazelnut.

Place the hazelnut on a silpat that you would have previously placed on a perforated sheet and cook them at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until they are turning dark brown -BUT NOT BLACK!!!

While the hazelnut are roasting, prepare la creme patissiere for the Paris-Brest Cream.

Creme Patissiere or Pastry Cream

  • 410 gr. or 14.45 oz. of whole milk,
  • 5 egg yolks,
  • 80 gr. or 2.80 oz of granulated sugar,
  • 20 gr. or .71 oz of flour,
  • 20 gr. or .71 oz of corn flour,
  • a pinch of salt,
  • 1 stick of butter.
  • 120 gr. or 4.28 of Hazelnut roasted in the oven at 400 for 10-15 minutes.
  1. In a bowl, stir vigorously the egg yolks, the sugar and the salt.
  2. Then add the flour and the corn flour and stir and mix well.
  3. Warm up the milk either in the microwave for 1 minute, or on a stove.
  4. When the milk is hot, pour it onto the egg mixture and stir. Empty the mixture into a small pot and place on the stove onto a low-medium temperature. Stir constantly while it is cooking so that it will not scorch. Stir until the mixture is thickening.
  5. Set  it aside to let it cool. When it is lukewarm, add the butter a bit at a time and stir to incorporate it homogeneously.
  6. Place the roasted hazelnut into a chopper and chop them until you have a paste that looks like peanut butter. Add this paste to the creme patissiere and mix well.
  7. Cover the cream with a plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until the shell of the cake is ready.

Puff Shell for the Paris-Brest:

  • 80 ml. or 1/3 cup of water,
  • 80 ml. or 1/3 cup of milk,
  • 70 gr. or about 1/2 stick of butter,
  • 1 pinch of salt,
  • 10 gr. or .35 oz. of sugar,
  • 100 gr. of flour,
  • 2 eggs.
  • 1 egg whipped for the egg wash.
  1. In the saucepan, heat up the milk and water, salt, and sugar.
  2. Add the butter cut up in pieces to the water/ milk mixture.
  3. Bring the mixture to boil and make sure that the butter is completely melted .
  4. Remove the pan from the stove and add the flour by stirring very well. Place the pan back on the stove ( it must be turned off, but will still be warm), and stir and stir with a heat-resistant spatula until the dough starts becoming a ball and will no longer stick to the rims of the pan.
  5. Remove the pan from the stove, empty the dough into a large bowl and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg.  Empty the dough into a pastry bag.
  6. Take a large piece of parchment paper and draw a circle of 9 inch. Place the paper on a medium perforated sheet., and place the  medium silpat on top of the paper. With a large circular opening make a circle following the circle that you had drawn on the paper. Make another circle around the other circle, but on the outside. Then with the dough left, make another circle on top the two that you already made.
  7. Take the egg wash, and with a pastry brush, brush the circle to even out the circle so that you will no longer see the lines of the circles that you made, and the whole thing will look like a single circle.
  8. Normally you would need to sprinkle almonds slivered all over the circle but i forgot- OOPS!
  9. Cook the puff pastry in a warm oven at 350 for 35-45 or until the puff pastry is becoming a darker brown and is no longer soft. 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time, open the oven slightly, place a spatula in the opening in between the oven and the door to keep the oven slightly open. This will allow the humidity of the puff pastry to come out, and the puff pastry will not deflate. When the time is up, check that the puff pastry is dry, and if it is not, let it cool in the oven.
  10. Remove the puff pastry from the oven and slice the puff pastry in half. Place the cream into a pastry bag and pipe the cream inside the Paris Brest as shown on the picture below.
  11. Place the top of the Puff Pastry on top of the cream and set aside.


Decoration: Caramel and Toasted Almonds Slivered.

  1. Place 1 cup of slivered almonds on a silpat and toast them at 350 for 10 minutes or until they become golden brown. Be careful not to burn them…

Caramel: 2 cup of sugar.

  1. Place the sugar in a small-size pan, and place the pan onto the stove over medium-high heat. Stir, and stir until the sugar is starting to bubble up and is starting to dissolve. Cook and keep stirring until the sugar turns to brown.
  2. Pour the caramel all over the sides of the Paris Brest and sprinkle the toasted almonds over the caramel. Et voila!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!