The pistachio Paris-Brest is composed of choux pastry filled with a rich pistachio mousseline cream and pistachio praline paste. It is the perfect dessert for pistachios lovers!
While Paris-Brest is traditionally piped in a ring, this version inspired by pastry chef Thierry Bamas is composed of individual choux buns. Each hiding pistachio praline paste that is encased in a mini choux bun.
The pistachio Paris-Brest is composed of four elements:
- Choux pastry: We previously discussed in depth how to make choux pastry. If you missed the post on choux pastry, it’s best to read it first. You’ll find detailed instructions and troubleshooting tips.
- Craquelin: The thin layer of dough that is placed on the choux before baking for an even rise and crunchiness.
- Pistachio praline paste: We prepared pistachio praline paste in last week’s post so if you haven’t done it already, it’s best to start with that.
- Pistachio mousseline cream: We’ll be making mousseline cream and flavoring it with pistachio praline paste.
What Is Mousseline Cream?
Mousseline cream is made by whipping pastry cream and softened butter until light and fluffy. It is a rich cream that can be used as a filling in numerous desserts such as the Fraisier cake, where it is paired with fresh strawberries.
Mousseline cream is not hard to make but there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Make sure you cook the pastry cream long enough so the cream isn’t runny. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes before taking it off the heat.
- The pastry cream and softened butter should ideally be at the same temperature (about 16°C/60°F) when mixing. A large temperature difference makes it harder to combine the two components and might result in a lumpy cream.
- Don’t add hot pastry cream to softened butter. This will cause the butter to melt, resulting in a runny cream.
- Whip long enough to incorporate air and until the mousseline cream holds its shape (about 10 minutes).
How to Make Pistachio Paris-Brest
Let me give you a quick overview of the process so you have an idea of what we’ll be doing.
- Prepare the craquelin: Chill it for at least an hour or freeze it for 15 minutes.
- Prepare the choux pastry: Once the dough is ready, pipe large choux buns and smaller ones.
- Top with craquelin: Top the large choux buns with craquelin. The smaller ones don’t need a topping.
- Bake the choux buns: Once baked, take them out of the oven and let them cool down at room temperature.
- Prepare the pastry cream: Chill until the temperature of the cream is around 16°C (60°F).
- Add the butter and praline paste: Whip until the cream is silky smooth and holds its shape.
- Assemble the Paris-Brest: Fill the small choux with pistachio praline paste. Place inside a large choux bun cut in two and fill with cream. Decorate as desired then enjoy!
Okay, now that you have a general idea, let’s dive into it!
- Briefly whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
- Add the softened butter and using your fingertips, mix until a homogeneous dough forms.
- Divide the dough into two portions. Place each piece inside a folded piece of parchment paper (or between two small sheets of parchment paper). Roll out to a thickness of about 2 mm (1/16 inch).
- If the dough isn’t too soft, cut out 5.5 cm (2 1/6 inch) circles using a cookie cutter. If it’s too soft, refrigerate it a little and then cut shapes. You’ll need at least 3 circles but it’s best to have some spare ones in case they tear. If the dough is too cold when cutting shapes it will have a tendency to crack. Let it warm up slightly at room temperature before trying again.
- Refrigerate, well wrapped in parchment paper, for at least 1 hour or freeze for 15 minutes (on a flat surface).
Prepare the panade
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (338°F), convection setting (or 190°C/374°F conventional setting). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat the water with the butter, sugar and salt in a small pot over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to make sure the sugar and salt have dissolved. Once the butter melts completely, increase the heat to medium-high and continue heating until the first bubbles appear.
- Making the panade: Remove from the heat and add the sifted flour all at once. Stir to combine fully. Once there are no longer traces of flour, return the dough to the heat.
- Keep stirring the dough for 2-3 minutes or until it no longer sticks to the pot and a film forms in the bottom of the pot (this won’t be visible in non-stick pots).
- Cooling the panade: Transfer the dough to a medium bowl or to the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix for a few minutes on the lowest setting or by hand using a wooden spoon. Steam will come out of the dough.
Add the eggs
- When the dough cools down to about 60°C (140°F), or when your bowl doesn’t feel extremely hot and there is no more steam coming out, start adding the eggs very slowly. If you haven’t done it already, slightly beat the eggs with a fork before adding them to the dough. Add a third to begin with and mix until fully incorporated. The dough will initially look curdled but will come together with mixing.
- Add the remaining eggs little by little – mixing well between each addition – until the dough looks smooth and glossy. If you hold the paddle or spoon up, the dough should hold onto it for a few seconds before falling back into the bowl. If it doesn’t fall, it’s too dry. Keep adding more egg. Note: You might not need to add all of the egg.
Pipe the choux
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large open tip. Get rid of any air bubbles in the bag. You can just use a big spoon if you don’t want to pipe the dough.
- Hold the piping bag perpendicular (90° angle) to the piping surface (parchment paper, silicone mat etc.) with the tip about 2 cm (3/4 inch) above it. Pipe 5 large choux of about 4.5 cm (1 3/4 inch) and 5 small ones of about 2 cm (3/4 inch). Top the large choux with craquelin. You’ll only need 3 choux of each size but it’s best to have some spare ones. You can pipe even more choux, if desired, with the leftover dough.
Tip: Leave a space of about 4 cm (1.6 inches) between the choux. It is best to pipe the choux in staggered rows to ensure they won’t stick together when they puff up and to allow for proper heat distribution.
If you are just starting out and have no idea when the choux have set, I would recommend piping the choux on two separate baking sheets, one for each size. The smaller choux will bake faster and it’s best not to open the oven door while the big ones are still baking. If you really want to bake everything together, then make sure all the choux have risen and set before you open the oven door or else they will deflate.
To pipe evenly sized choux, the easiest thing to do is to use templates. Just slide them under the parchment paper then pipe away! You can grab your free printable templates below.
Bake the choux
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until they look puffy and set. Change the convection to a conventional setting (or reduce the temperature to 170°C/338°F in a conventional oven) and keep baking to dry them out. The small choux will need about 10 more minutes and the large ones about 25 minutes. If you piped more choux than needed, you can cut one open to test for doneness. It should be dry or very slightly moist. If it looks quite wet inside, bake for a bit longer or else your choux will be soggy.
- Transfer the choux to a wire rack and cool completely at room temperature.
Pistachio Mousseline Cream
Prepare the pastry cream
- Pour the milk and part of the sugar (about a third) in a small pot. Heat over medium-high heat until just simmering.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolk with the remaining sugar in a bowl until combined. Whisk as soon as you add the sugar to the egg yolk or you will “cook” the egg.
- Add the cornstarch and whisk once more to combine. If the mixture is too thick and is getting stuck in the whisk you can use a large spoon.
- Remove the hot milk from the heat and gradually pour over the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Be careful not to pour too quickly so you don’t cook the egg! You don’t have to pour all the liquids if you don’t have enough space in your bowl. You can pour about half or just enough to dilute the egg and slowly raise its temperature.
- Return the mixture to the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Keep whisking to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce the heat if needed.
- Once the foam subsides and the cream starts to thicken, keep an eye out for bubbles forming. When this happens, keep heating for 1-2 more minutes to fully cook the starch and get rid of any starchy taste. Remove from the heat.
- Add the cold butter and whisk until the cream is completely smooth. Tip: If you notice lumps in the pastry cream, strain it through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl.
- Pour the pastry cream into a wide container so it cools down quickly. Place a piece of parchment paper or cling film straight onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Slightly cool down at room temperature then refrigerate for as long as needed until the temperature of the cream is around 16°C (60°F). The thinner the layer of pastry cream, the faster it will cool down. It took about 30 minutes for me.
Add the butter and praline paste
- Transfer the pastry cream to a mixing bowl and mix on low speed to loosen it, about 2 minutes. You should have about 155 g (5.5 oz.) of pastry cream.
- Add the pistachio praline paste and mix until fully incorporated.
- Gradually add the softened butter and keep whipping on medium speed until the cream is silky smooth and holds its shape, about 10 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Don’t stop mixing as soon as the ingredients are combined. Keep mixing a bit longer to incorporate more air. The cream should hold its shape.
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with desired tip. I used Wilton 2D. Chill until cold and easy to pipe, about an hour.
- Using a sharp knife, cut a small hole on the bottom of the small choux.
- Insert a piping bag filled with praline paste into the hole and apply pressure until the choux bun is full. I used about 5 g (0.18 oz.) of praline paste per choux. I simply filled a piping bag with praline paste and snipped off the end without using a piping tip.
- Slice the top of the large choux buns, about 2/3 of the way up. Don’t worry if some of the craquelin falls, it’s normal. Pipe pistachio mousseline cream in the center then gently press a small (filled) choux bun in the middle.
- Pipe cream around the small choux bun until completely hidden.
- Place the top part of the choux back on. Optional: Press a small round cookie cutter on the top part of the choux bun to trim the edges before using it.
- Dust with powdered sugar and decorate with pistachios, if desired. Enjoy!
More Choux Pastry Desserts
- Chocolate choux with caramel filling
- Vanilla eclairs
- Triple chocolate eclairs
- Paris-Brest with almond hazelnut praline cream
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