Make Ahead


December 21, 2015
2 Ratings
Photo by ChefJune
  • Makes 6 (or so) servings
Author Notes

This may be the ne plus ultra of desserts - the best non-chocolate dessert ever! I made my first ever last year in Lyon with the very talented pastry chef and teacher, Lucy Vanel of Plum Lyon. (I highly recommend her classes, but that's another story.) Paris-Brest takes a lot of work, but the results are SO worth it. [Note: Most of the ingredients are listed in grams. It works best to measure this way.] —ChefJune

What You'll Need
  • Pâte à Choux
  • 250 grams water
  • 3 grams fine sea salt
  • 100 grams unsalted butter
  • 200 grams organic all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • Creme Mousseline Praliné and Noisettes Caramélisées for Paris-Brest (makes 800 grams)
  • 50 centiliters whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 120 grams organic cane sugar
  • 50 grams corn or potato starch
  • 250 grams unsalted butter
  • 360 grams praliné (almond hazelnut caramel paste) Note: 1/2 batch of this will suffice for an 18 CM Paris-Brest, use a full batch for 22 and higher.
  • 300 grams hazelnuts
  • 150 grams organic granulated cane sugar
  • 50 grams water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 gram fleur de sel
  1. Pâte à Choux
  2. Heat the water, butter and salt in a small saucepan until it just boils. Add the flour all at once and stir until it separates from the edges of the pan and forms a film at the bottom of the pan. Transfer the dough to the mixer bowl with paddle and mix slowly 3-5 minutes to allow further evaporation.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and fully incorporate them.
  4. Pipe onto a buttered baking sheet according to size desired and bake at 200C (392 degrees F) until browned and fully risen (20-25 minutes). You may open the oven once during the baking process to release humidity from the oven, however do not open it repeatedly or the choux pastry may collapse.
  1. Creme Mousseline Praliné and Noisettes Caramélisées for Paris-Brest (makes 800 grams)
  2. Boil the milk with the vanilla extract. During this time, put the yolks in a bowl with the sugar and the corn starch. Whisk to combine. Bring the milk again to a boil. Carefully add the boiled milk into the egg yolk mixture, 1/3 at a time. Return the mixture to the heat and whisk to keep it moving while it heats up again. gg
  3. Bring it to a boil, stirring and whisking (not to incorporate air) and after it boils at least one minute, remove it from heat. Transfer this immediately to a lined pan, covering again with plastic to ensure that a film does not develop on the surface while it cools. Cool immediately and keep refrigerated when not using. This will keep 3 days in the refrigerator but does not freeze well.
  4. Make the mousseline: Whip the butter until it is light and fluffy. Incorporate the praliné into the butter, whipping thoroughly to incorporate air. Incorporate the cold pastry cream, mixing just until fluffy and light, being careful not to whip it too much. If necessary, you can then stir it carefully with a spatula to eliminate some of the bubbles that may have formed. The mousseline praliné is ready to load into piping bag for immediate use.
  5. For the Noisettes Caramélisées: Heat the oven to 160°C (320 degrees F.) Spread the nuts out on a pan and bake for 16 minutes.
  6. Put the hot nuts into a terry towel and roll them under your hands until the skins come off. Return the skinned hazelnuts to the oven, which has been turned off, to keep them warm. Conversely you can start with 2 cups of slivered almonds and skip this step.
  7. Put the sugar, water, and a split vanilla bean and its paste which has been scraped in a thick-bottomed pan. Bring to a boil and bring to 118C. Remove the pan from the heat and add the hazelnuts. Stir until they are coated with sugar.
  8. Return the nuts to the heat and stir over heat until the outside caramelizes. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and turn the caramel coated nuts immediately to a piece of baking paper. Remove the vanilla bean. Let cool. Crush lightly. Keep in an airtight container
  9. To Assemble the Paris-Brest: ½ batch pate a choux ½ batch Creme Patissière 125 + 180 g butter + praline 100 g noisettes pralinées as needed almonds, slivered as needed pearl sugar
  10. Pipe one large and one small ring. Egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar and nuts, and bake in a hot oven until brown and crisp.
  11. Make the crème patissière, chill, and then use it to make the crème mousseline, by blanching the butter and praline before adding the crème patissière.
  12. Cut the larger circle of choux pastry slightly below the middle line. Powder the top with icing sugar. Start with the lower half, and fill it with about 1/3 of the creme mousseline. Sprinkle praline coated hazelnuts over the cream, and add the separately cooked ring. Pipe shell shapes over the ring of pastry, slightly overhanging the bottom pastry.
  13. Cover with the powdered sugar topped ring. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Marija Simat
    Marija Simat
  • Ellen Daly
    Ellen Daly
  • ChefJune
  • Theresa Lemieux
    Theresa Lemieux
30+ years a chef, educator, writer, consultant, "winie," travel guide/coordinator

9 Reviews

Marija S. September 4, 2021
Dear ChefJune, I must congratulate you with all my heart, for you have just given me the perfect recipe for creme mousseline with noisettes caramelisees. I was looking for it for a long long time and finally I found it. I followed your instructions word by word and the cake turned out perfect. Just perfect. Thank you so much for this, well done!
Ellen D. December 2, 2018
I would really love to attempt this cake, however the steps and in particular No. 8 are confusing. I would greatly appreciate some clarity.
ChefJune December 3, 2018
Step #8 basically tells you what you will need for the assembly of the Paris-Brest.
Proceed to Step 9 where is tells you to pipe one large and one smaller ring of Pâte à Choux and bake them. Sorry you were confused. I'll pay attention to this in case you have further questions. Don't hesitate to ask. It is SO worth the effort!
m February 5, 2018
is it possible to use arrowroot powder in place of the corn/potato starch? can't have either. thanks.
ChefJune February 6, 2018
Sorriest, I don't know the answer to that question. But Shirley Corriher (on her web site - I'd google her) might be able to answer that.
ChefJune March 28, 2016
Something's weird here. I posted a response to Theresa a month ago and it's vanished. I'm out of town on business. Will try to repost some explanation in a day or so. REALLY sorry!
Theresa L. February 22, 2016
Imwith you until Step 8. Then I feel a few more precise instructions would be useful.
Jenny March 27, 2016
I agree! I am a little lost too..
Janet December 11, 2019
I was totally confused too. But take a look at this recipe and it’s pictures, and you may find it helpful when you assemble it.