Paris-Brest with Summer Fruits and Creme Moussaline
This classic Paris Brest is a ring of delectable pate-a choux that is filled with creme moussaline, a combination of creme patisserie and butter. Lots of butter. Topped with mixed berries and peaches to lighten up the Frenchest bite for summer in red, white, blue, peach, and cream.Jump to Recipe
The Four-teenth- of July
Not a fan of July. Not a fan of humidity. Less a fan of July 4th. It is not that I am purposely unpatriotic. It likens itself to the way that many people, like myself, adore cilantro. We add it to anything from Persian to Mexican and appreciate its little green zingy flavor. Others, meanwhile, cannot stand one leaf finding its way into their mouth. Not a preference or a like, but a genetic and specific predisposition.
Well, that seems to be me with America. America is my cilantro, if I did not like cilantro. It feels random and harks back to being first generation Croatian, born to immigrants who were very American is some ways, but mostly not. Regardless of our cultural norms, like bands of visiting Croatians to our house in my youth and drinking wine and Sljivovica in tiny shot glasses with ice since kindergarten.
I have mostly felt disinterested in the goings on politically, for my family came from a much older world, where politics, rules, societies, and worlds changed from decade to decade, not to mention the laundry list of empires that came before. We distrust, perhaps, or accept the mutability-and sometimes frivolity–of countries and of patriotism. We know where it came from and where it could go tomorrow.
Or something like that. I feel like the girl in high school that had no school spirit and who just wanted to go home and listen to dark and moody rock n roll when cheerleaders were cheering on the team…well, because I was that girl. I feel like I did every July 4th. Who does not love fireworks? We blew up our share growing up. The rest of it feels off to me. I realize this is me. I realize I should move to Croatia, or France, or England, or Ireland, where I was lucky enough to go to school here.
Perhaps one day A Quarrel of Feasts will be Une Querelle de Fetes. My boyfriend, whose parents came from Turkey and France, always says he felt like he got off the plane with them. I feel the same. I guess that is why we hang out together in our house so much.
Bastille Brest of Paris
For he and his French memories, I want to spend an extra time this year celebrating Bastille Day on July 14th and even more so, celebrating the endless parade of French patisserie, headed up by the elusive and surprisingly pleasurable to make Pate-a-Choux in the form of a Paris Brest.
The Paris Brest was named after a bicycle race that ran from Paris to Brest, in the town of Brittany. The pate choux is crisp and soft, made up of the same components that you would taste in an eclair or a cream puff. The moussaline cream is like the most evil buttercream you could imagine–but you cannot imagine it. Only the French can. That, along with free healthcare and bottles of wine at lunch. It is made up of a creme patisserie with endless knobs of butter thrown in for good measure. The result is not great for cholesterol, but is a cascade of velvet and silk together. No wonder they need that healthcare.
One French Step at a Time
The traditional Paris Brest is made with a praline cream in the center. Oddly enough, the first version of a Paris Brest I had was in Malverne, Long Island, NY. It happens to be where my boyfriends dad and his wife live. One of the best, if not the best, bakery in Long Island called Malverne Pastry Shop, is in their town, and they typically have a version of the Paris Brest made with a lighter creme patisserie in the center and berries. For the heat waves of July, I went with this version, using a traditional moussaline creme.
- The Paris Brest is made up of two components: Pate-a Choux, Creme Moussaline, itself made up of creme patisserie and butter, along with the ready made summer fruits.
- For Pate-a-Choux: The milk, sugar, butter, and salt is added to a pan and the liquid is just pre-boil, when you take the pan off of the heat and add in the flour, all at once. You then add eggs in one at a time, slowly, and return the mix to the heat to continue until it looks like a paste like texture, all together, leaving no trace of its ingredients on the sides of the pan or the bowl. It comes together pretty quickly, so keep your heat in check and keep mixing. Seriously, keep whisking when instructed and then keep mixing with a wooden spoon.
- A great tip for Pate-a-Choux is after the flour is added. Many traditional recipes instruct you to add the eggs by hand, one at a time, and mix. Mix MIX. I did this by hand this time, to understand the process through and through, but, an alternative is to add the flour and then place the hot mixture in the bowl of a mixer. You can put the mixer on low and let it go for about 2-3 minutes. It will keep the mixture soft, and cool it off as you begin to add the eggs.
- The Creme Moussaline: This part feels similar to making the Pate-a-Choux. Unfortunately for me, standing over the steamy stove whisking and mixing vigorously in July was not my favorite part, but the result was worth the perspiration. Again, milk is brought just to a boil, while the sugar,eggs, and flour are whisked separately. Like creme pat, the egg mixture is added to the milk, while whisking of course, and cooked over medium heat, while whisking, for about five minutes until thickened. Now, the butter dices are dropped into the creme clouds and the thing becomes something else…moussaline!
- The fun does not end there. Now, it’s time to pipe the pate-a-choux into a ring (draw a ring onto the back of parchment paper laid out on a baking sheet for a guide). I did not have wide enough tips, so ended up using the extra large, bulbous piping tip likely not meant for pate-a-choux. I have a lot to learn where piping is concerned. A first circle is drawn, then another next to it on the inside, and then one more on top and in between the two. The ring is then brushed with egg, decorated with flaked almonds, and dusted heavily with confectioners sugar.
- The Paris Brest bakes to a crisp golden brown and, once cooled, it is sliced in half with a bread knife and piped full of moussaline cream. The top sits on the cream like a hat, and in this case, berries and peaches are daintily set onto the cream and in the middle of the ring once complete. Dust once more with confectioners sugar and celebrate July 4th with red, white, and blue if that’s your thing, or Bastille Day with blue, white, and red. Either way, peaches make it all a sweet day.
Paris-Brest with Summer Fruits and Creme Moussaline
- Piping bag, 1 inch round tip, large star tip.
Pate a Choux
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2⅓ tsp granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1⅔ tsp salt
- 1¼ cup all purpose flour
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ cup plus 1 tsp all purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter, diced
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup flaked almonds
- confectioners sugar for dusting
- Mixed berries and peaches or other fruit for inside of ring and/or inside of ring.
For the Pate a Choux
- On a baking sheet, measure a piece of parchment paper. Use a good size cake tin to trace a circle (8-10 inch is good). Turn the paper over so the circle is underneath and grease the paper with baking spray.
- Add the milk, sugar, butter, and salt in saucepan over medium high heat. Bring just to a boil.
- In separate bowl, crack eggs. You can beat them if preferred.
- Remove from heat and add in flour all at once, whisking vigorously until incorporated.
- Put saucepan back on medium heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is like a batter and a paste, and it comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- In a metal bowl or bowl of a mixer, run on low speed for 2-3 minutes to cool off the pate a choux. If mixing by hand, allow 3-5 minutes to cool before continuing with this step.
- On low speed or by hand with a wooden spoon, add one egg at a time (if eggs are beaten, add a little at a time) and allow it to mix in with the choux.
- Fill a piping bag and use a wide 1" round tip, if possible. Pipe a ring, following your circle trace. Pipe a second ring right inside the first, and then pipe a third ring on top and in between the two rings.
- Brush a beaten egg over the choux. Sprinkle flaked almonds over the top, and dust liberally with confectioners sugar.
- Bake the Pate a Choux on 425 degrees for 10 minutes, and then lower to 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Make sure the choux is golden brown and hardened on the outside, but watch it doesn't get too dark. Cooking time will vary, depending on your piping style.
- Allow the Pate a Choux to cool for 10 minutes, then moving it to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Creme Moussaline
- In a saucepan over medium high heat, bring the milk just to a boil.
- Crack eggs into a mixing bowl and add sugar. Whisk by hand or in mixer on medium speed until fluffy.
- Add in the flour and combine.
- Once milk is ready, very slowly pour milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly and vigorously.
- Return the whole mixture to the saucepan over medium heat and whisk continuously for 4-5 minutes or until thickened.
- Lower the heat slightly and add in dices of butter one at a time. Keep whisking!
- Remove the Moussaline from heat and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator (or freezer for no more than 30 minutes). Allow cream to get cold for better piping.
- With a bread knife, carefully slice the Paris Brest ring in half lengthwise.
- Add the chilled moussaline to a piping bag with a large star tip and pipe the cream in swirls on top of the bottom half of the ring. If adding fruit, add your berries and fruit now, making sure not to overload the cream. gently place the top half of the choux on top.
- Optional: add more fruit to the center hole of the ring (it looks lovely) if you like. Sprinkle more confectioners sugar on top. Keep chilled and serve within 48 hours. Happy Bastille Day!