Paris-Brest

 

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As is the way in many European cultures, the French love to celebrate special occasions with food. And not just any old food, often dishes are created just to celebrate a particular event, at times becoming just as iconic that the event they were created for.

One such dish is the Paris-Brest. This delicious choux pastry was created at the turn of the 20th century to celebrate the annual bike race from Paris to Brest, and is shaped like a doughnut to resemble a bike tyre. The pastry is sliced through the middle and filled with a light and creamy hazelnut praline. Back then, the cyclists competing in the race would snack on these sweet treats (a far cry form the carb gels that pro cyclists have nowadays), but now they are available in most patisseries in France.

To watch the how to make Choux Pastry video click here

Choux Pastry:

Ingredients:

  • 125g water
  • 125g full fat milk
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 135 plain flour
  • 245g free range eggs, about 5 eggs

Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a deep sauce pan bring the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter to the boil.
  3. Once the butter has melted, take the sauce pan off the heat and ad the sifted flour. Return the pot to the heat and dry the choux pastry for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the choux pastry to a mixing bowl and add the eggs one a time, make to incorporate each egg before adding another one, you can use an electric mixer like a Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment to make it easier.
  5. Using a piping bag, pipe the choux pastry in a ring shape, brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with coarsely chopped almond.
  6. Bake in hot oven for 40 minutes.

Hazelnut Praline:

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Ingredients:

  • 135g hazelnuts
  • 90g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven.
  2. Make a dry caramel with the sugar, make it the same way you would for a normal caramel but without water.
  3. Pour the caramel over the toasted hazelnut and leave to cool.
  4. Blitz the hazelnut in a food processor until you have a smooth paste.

Crème Pâtissière:

Ingredients:

  • 180g milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 40g egg yolk, 2-3 yolk
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 20g corn flower
  • 15g butter

Method:

  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until slightly white. Then add the corn flour and whisk until mixed through.
  2. Bring the milk and vanilla pod, seeds scrapped out, to the boil.
  3. Pour the hot milk over the eggs and whisk until dissolved. Cook over medium heat until it start to boil, then cook for a further 1 minutes.
  4. Transfer the crème into a clean bowl, cover with glad wrap and leave to cool in the fridge. Make sure the glad wrap touches the crème!

Crème Mousseline Praliné:

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Ingredients:

  • 90g unsalted butter, soft
  • 255g crème patissière
  • 40g hazelnut Praline
  • 40g Hazelnut paste
  • pinch of slat flakes

Method:

  1. Whisk the crème patissière until smooth, then add the hazelnut paste, hazelnut praline, salt flake and whish until combine.
  2. Add the soft butter little bit a the time and whisk for 3-4 minute until homogenized.

Build the Paris-Brest:

Method:

  1. Cut the choux pastry in half, so you have two rings.
  2. Sprinkle hazelnut praline and toasted almonds on the bottom half
  3. Using a piping bag with the star nozzle, pipe the crème mousseline on the bottom half.
  4. Put the top part of the ring back on and sprinkle with icing sugar!

Enjoy straight away for dessert or afternoon tea!

Bastille Day Dessert: Grand Marnier Soufflé

Grand Marnier Soufflé serve 4

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What’s wonderful about the soufflé is that because the basic recipe can be adapted to include any flavour you like, sweet or savoury, you can really make the dish your own. I’ve chosen it as the dessert for my Bastille Day feast this year and because July is in Winter here in the southern hemisphere, I’m flavouring it with oranges, both the real stuff and a splash of Grand Marnier for good measure.

Soufflé had a reputation for intimidating the most avid cooks, due to the fact that you never know whether it’s going to be an epic success or failure until the moment you take it out the oven and gingerly place in onto the serving plate. But as they say you’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit (or the soufflé in this case), so role up your sleeves, take careful note of the instructions and you’ll be set for sweet success.

For the Crème Pâtissière:

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolk
  • 25g plain flour
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 2 orange zest
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeded
  • 5cl Grand Marnier

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Method:

  1. Bring the milk, orange zest and vanilla skin to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile whisk the yolk, sugar and vanilla seed together.
  3. Add the flour to the mix and whisk until combined.
  4. Pour the hot milk over the eggs and mix well so that all the ingredients are combined.
  5. Pour the mix back in the sauce pan and cook on medium heat while whisking until it start to thicken, then cook for a further 5 minutes while whisking.
  6. Pour the crème pâtissière in a clean bowl add the Grand Marnier and whisk until combined. Cover with cling film, make sure the film is in direct contact with the crème to prevent the formation of a skin, then put in the fridge to cool down.

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For the moulds:

  • Brush the moulds with soft unsalted butter, making sure to cover the entire surface. Place them in the fridge to set the butter.
  • Once the first layer has set repeat the process once more, then dust the moulds with caster sugar.

For the soufflé:

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Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 55g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven a 240 degrees Celsius.
  2. Whisk the egg whites to soft peak in an electric blender, a good way to know if they’re ready is to tip the bowl upside down if it doesn’t fall off, it’s ready!
  3. Slowly add the sugar while whisking on medium speed and whisk for a couple of minutes or until the sugar is combined.
  4. Mix ¼ of the egg white with the crème pâtissière and whisk to loosen the mix.
  5. Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold everything together.
  6. Gently spoon the soufflé mix in each mold, gently tap the mold on the bench to avoid leaving any air bubble and smooth the top of the soufflé with a palette knife.
  7. Bake the soufflé for 8-10 minutes at 240 degrees.
  8. Dust the top of the soufflé with icing sugar and serve straight away!

 

 

Jean-François’s Mousse au Chocolat: Jean-François Chocolate Mousse

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This decadent dessert is a favourite among restaurant go-ers at the Restaurant de L’Abbaye and I’m thrilled to be able to share the chef’s recipe with you today. Once you taste the rich and creamy texture of this mousse you’ll be surprised at how straightforward it is to make, and because it will keep for a few days in the fridge, I think it’s the perfect ‘wow-factor’ dessert to make in advance when you’re entertaining guests.

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There’s no oven time required for this chocolate mousse, which has the added advantage of allowing you to be creative with your presentation. There are the usual ramekins or decorative bowls, but you could also set the mousse in vintage crystal glasses or teacups for an afternoon tea with a twist.

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The most important thing to keep in mind with this dish is the darker the chocolate you use, the richer the finished product; so don’t overdose on a good thing by serving your guests enormous portions! Less is always more when it comes to indulgence.

Ingredients:

  • 450g dark chocolate
  • 10 egg yolk
  • 10 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Break the chocolate into little pieces and place them into a stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl on a bain-marie, turn the heat to the lowest setting and leave the chocolate to melt slowly.
  2. In the meantime separate the egg whites and egg yolks. Place the yolks into an electric mixer bowl with the sugar and whisk at high speed until it becomes slightly white and fluffy or about double in size. Then pour the mixture in a large mixing bowl and keep aside.
  3. Whisk the egg whites with a tablespoon of sugar until the mixture forms soft peaks, i.e. until the mixture holds its shape for a little bit (or another way to know if it’s ready is to tip the bowl upside down and if the misture stays in!)
  4. Combine the melted chocolate and the yolk mixture and slowly fold them together using a spatula.
  5. Then add about a ¼ of the whites at a time and gently mix them with chocolate mixture.
  6. Portion the chocolate mousse into individual little bowl and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  7. Serve by itself or with some sable biscuit on the side!

Almond and Cherry Pithivier

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There’s one cooking show that I could watch endlessly over again. For me, it’s the perfect mix of Francophilic nostalgia, mouth-watering food and my style of cooking: rustic. It is…Rick Stein’s French Food Odyssey. If you’ve never had the pleasure before, you can find it online: www.amazon.com . You’re welcome.

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With its focus on French favourites, there are lots of dishes on Rick’s menu that were regulars at the dinner table growing up, but one that I have never tried was something called a Pithivier, and so, I decided to make one. My only regret…I shouldn’t have waited so long!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets butter puff pastry
  • 125g softened butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 125 almond meal
  • 15 flour
  • 2 tablespoon Kirsch (cherry liqueur)
  • 225 fresh cherries, stone removed

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Method:

  1. Cut a disc of puff pastry using a medium size plate (about 25 cm) for the bottom and a slightly larger one for the top (about 29 cm), using a larger plate. Rest them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. For the almond filling, cream the butter and sugar together until white and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and one of the yolks, gently add the almond meal, flour and Kirsch, stir until combine.
  4. Stir in the pitted cherries.
  5. Place the smaller disc on flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Spoon the almond mixture in the center and spread it to about 2.5 cm of the edge.
  6. Beat the remaining yolk with 1 tablespoon of cold water and brush the edges of the bottom disc. Place the larger disc on top of the filling and press the edges together to seal, pressing out any trapped air. Press the outside of the edges of the pastry with a fork to give it a attractive finish. Place the Pithivier in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (428F). Brush the top of the Pithivier with the rest of the egg wash, then with the tip of a small sharp knife, score radiating arcs from the center out towards the edge, taking care not to cut too deeply. Make a hole in the centre to let the steam escape.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius(428F), until the pastry puffed up and is golden. Then lower the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius(356F) and bake for a further 40 minutes or until a skewer pushed in the middle comes out clean. If it start to become too brown, loosely lay a sheet of foil over the top.
  9. To give the Phitivier a classic glazed appearance remove it from the oven, increase the temperature to 220 degrees Celsius (428F). Dust the pastry with icing sugar and bake for 4 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool slightly, then serve with vanilla bean ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
  11. I also recommend a glass of Chateau Viranel “Gourmandise” available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au