Paris Brest is a classic pastry dessert that uses Pate a Choux dough, commonly known as choux paste. It’s one of the simplest pastry doughs to make and can be used in multiple ways.
Traditionally, A Paris Brest is sliced after its baked then filled like a sandwich and then garnished.
Here, I make an open faced version that is super light and refreshing to serve for a crowd, or eat it all yourself 🙂
Choux Dough Basics
Pate a Choux has super simple components:
- The recipe starts on the stovetop in a saucepan melting the butter and water, them removed from the heat.
- Flour is added then stirred by hand till a moist dough comes together.
- The dough is then place in a mixer and eggs are added till a shinny dough is formed.
- This dough gets piped into various shapes depending on the dessert you are making.
- While baking, it puffs up and turns into a beautiful brown, golden color that is just waiting for a filling!
Pate a Choux Variations
This versatile dough is used to make some some amazing desserts and mini pastries into different shapes and sizes like:
- Cream Puffs (Puffs shaped filled with cream or pastry cream)
- Gourgeres (Puffs that are savory cheese cream puffs)
- Eclairs (Logs filled with pastry cream and topped with chocolate ganache
- Paris-Brest (Large round wheel, sliced and filled with filling)
- Croquembouche (Cream puffs made into a tower)
I remember working in corporate catering, we made mini French pastries as part of the dessert menu daily that included Chocolate Eclairs. Literally, we made 1000’s of these during the week!
My First Journey
My first experience with Choux paste was my pre-culinary school days. I taught myself how to make this dough and turned them into delicious chicken puffs. They were filled with fresh chicken salad filling and made super delicious appetizers! At the time, eclairs seemed a bit intimidating to me!
This dessert is the larger of the Pate a Choux varieties. Tradionally, the pastry is piped into a large wheel, baked, cooled, sliced, and stuffed with a cream filling.
However, this version is open faced. Staying with tradition, its is piped into a large wheel shape, but with a decorative piping tip to give it a neat design.
Also, I use a rosette as my design for the wheel with a star tip. But, instead of slicing and filling it, the filling is piped right onto the pastry like a pizza crust and decorated with fruit and powdered sugar.
Orange is the focus on this dessert and it gets a delicious orange pastry cream sitting next to fresh whipped cream, topped with fresh orange supremes and a dusting of powdered sugar! Delightful!
The dessert is so light and refreshing and you can mix and match your fillings and decorations. Almonds would make a great accompaniment to give it some texture.
Sky is the limit here with so many ways to make this your own creation.
Pate a Choux Swans
A fun way to use leftover choux paste is to make these fun swans. I will always remember making these in culinary school. It’s been years since I made them!
Making the Swans
I use two tips for these:
- Small Plain Tip
- Medium Star tip
Body: Piped into small shell patterns with the star tip
Neck: Piped with the plain tip into a question mark
These get baked off at 400 degrees for 15 minutes for the necks, and 20-25 minutes for the body.
Each body piece gets sliced off about 1/3 of the way from the top to form the wings. Then, that piece gets sliced down the middle to form two small wings.
Fresh cream gets piped onto the flat body and then the two wings are placed in the cream on either side.
The neck is then inserted into the center of the cream between the two wings. Finishing off with a dusting of powdered sugar. They are so cute aren’t they?
A swan is born!
Love pastry? Check out other post in my “Pastry 101” series