Paris Picnic Club
This is a choux bun version of the iconic French dessert, Paris Brest. It’s a choux pastry that is baked until puffed and golden then filled with the most luxurious butter-laden hazelnut-flavored pastry cream, called crème mousseline. It does take a few different steps, but the easiest way to do it is to break up your work and make the praline paste and the crème mousseline a day before so that the cream is thoroughly chilled for when you need it. Make extra praline, you’ll regret it if you don’t.
PREP TIME 30 minutes COOK TIME 1 hour SERVES 10
© 2024 Shaheen Peerbhai / Sterling · Reproduced with permission. · Paris Picnic Club by Shaheen Peerbhai and Jennie Levitt, published by Sterling (£19.99). Photography by Jennie Levitt.
You Will Need
Toast the hazelnuts in at 300°F (150°C) oven until they are fragrant and light brown, about 15 to 17 minutes. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan placed over medium heat, add all of the sugar. As the sugar heats up, it will begin to melt and then turn light golden. If you see bits of dry sugar in the pan, stir it lightly with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat down and continue to cook until all of the sugar is dark golden. Add the toasted hazelnuts. Stir them into the caramel for another
minute, coating them thoroughly. Transfer the hazelnuts to a silicone mat to cool slightly. Reserve a few for garnish and grind the rest in a food processor. The hazelnuts will grind down to a powder and then to a paste with the consistency of a runny nut butter.
Praline Crème Mousseline
In a bowl, mix together half of the sugar and egg yolks, then add the flour and cornstarch.
In a large saucepan, boil the milk with the vanilla seeds and the remaining half of the sugar and pour it over the yolk mixture in the bowl, whisking it as you go along. Pour the milk-and-egg mixture back into the saucepan and whisk over medium heat until the cream thickens and comes back to a boil.
Transfer the cream to a clean bowl, stir in the butter and the praline paste, and whisk until the mixture is homogeneous. Refrigerate the cream for at least 3 hoursor, preferably, overnight.
Whip the cream until the texture is as light and airy as a mousse, and then transfer it to a pastry bag fitted with a star-shaped piping tip. Keep it refrigerated until the choux is ready.
Craquelin (Crumble Topping)
Knead all the ingredients together in a bowl until they’re fully combined.
Roll out the dough between sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of 1/16 inch (1.6mm). Refrigerate the dough until it is firm. Using a round pastry cutter, mark the dough to be cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) circles, but do not pop out the circles. Freeze the sheet of dough until hardened, about 15 minutes. Working quickly with the help of palette knife, carefully pop out the discs. Reserve them in a container and place it back in the fridge until ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking tray with a silicone sheet or parchment paper.
In a saucepan, bring the milk, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil.
Take the pan off the heat and add all the flour at once. Stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon, put the pan back on the heat, and cook until the mixture clumps up around the spoon and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the dough to a mixing bowl.
Begin to beat the dough, and then pour in the eggs a little at a time until they’re completely incorporated and the batter is smooth and shiny.
Transfer the choux pastry dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 -inch (12mm) tip and pipe it into 1 inch (2.5cm) wide circles. Leave a 2-inch (5cm) space between the rounds of dough because they will rise quite a bit. Make sure they are all the same size so that they bake evenly.
Remove the discs of crumble topping from the fridge.
Place one disc on top of each circle of piped choux dough and bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Do not open the oven door at all after putting the choux into the oven—if you do, the pastry will collapse and not rise again. You can turn the temperature down to 360°F (180°C) after the pastry has turned golden brown and looks like it has puffed up to nearly three times its original volume. Continue to bake the pastry until it is an even, dark golden brown.
Place the choux buns on a cutting board and, using a small serrated knife, carefully slice off the top third of each bun.
Pipe the hazelnut mousseline cream into the bottom half of the choux buns. Place the tops back on the buns, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and then gently push the reserved caramelized hazelnuts into the hazelnut mousseline cream.