How to make a Paris Brest Christmas Cake

Written by on November 30, 2016 in Desserts, Gastronomy


Paris Brest cakes are an absolute classic in France. Every pattisserie chef will have his or her own version of the delicious choux dough pastry. This version is very grown up and perfect for Christmas. Created by Scottish cook in Paris Jill Colonna, the whisky addition makes for a delicious twist!

Choux dough

75g water
50g milk
1 tsp sea salt (or fleur de sel)
1 tbsp sugar
45g butter
75g flour (plain, all-purpose)
2 eggs

Hazelnut praline

80g whole hazelnuts
60g sugar

Praline buttercream filling

250g milk
2 tsps instant/soluble coffee
3 egg yolks
40g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
15g cornflour (cornstarch)
Praline, crushed (as above)
100g unsalted butter, softened

Chocolate-whisky ganache

80g dark chocolate (70%)
90g whipping cream
2 tbsps malt whisky (light, not too peaty)

Make choux dough – you can find out how to do that here on Jill’s website (below)

Pipe out the choux pastry in one large choux ring of about 15 cm diameters using a plain or serrated 12–14mm (½”) tip. Pipe out a second ring on the outside, followed by a third ring on top in the middle of the two. Sprinkle with flaked almonds before baking for about 35 minutes at 160°C/320°F fan (Gas 4).

Make the hazelnut praline

Dry fry the hazelnuts –put without any oil, in a frying pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat the sugar over a medium heat with a couple of drops of water until the caramel turns a dark golden colour (no more than 5 minutes – keep your eye on it as you don’t want the caramel to burn).

Quickly tip the toasted hazelnuts in the caramel, stir until they are fully coated and briskly pour out the hot, sticky mixture directly onto a slightly oiled or non-stick baking tray.  Leave to cool, fill the saucepan with water and leave in the sink (this will make your washing up so much easier!)

When cool, break up the caramel and pound it to a powder using a mortar and pestle or much easier, using a food processor.

To make the praline buttercream filling

Gently heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan with the coffee on low heat until nearly boiling.

Whisk the yolks and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Add the corn flour and continue to whisk until a smooth paste is formed.

Pour half of the hot milk over the yolk mix, whisk, then add to the rest of the milk in the saucepan, whisking constantly over a medium heat until the mixture thickens (about 5 minutes). Take off the heat and immediately cover with cling film to avoid a skin forming on the cream. Once cooled, transfer to the fridge and chill for at least an hour.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Whisk in the cooled cream and add the hazelnut praline. Leave to cool in the fridge for 10–15 minutes.

To make the chocolate-whisky ganache

Break the chocolate into a bowl. Heat the cream and 1 tablespoon of whisky until nearly boiling, then pour half of it over the chocolate. Stir with a wooden spoon until melted then add the rest of the hot cream. Continue to stir until smooth. Add the other tablespoon of whisky. Leave to cool for 30 minutes (watch carefully that it doesn’t harden too quickly if you put it in the fridge – otherwise add a bit more whisky!) then transfer to a piping bag with a plain tip.

Cut the cooled choux circles in half horizontally with a bread knife.

Pipe out the praline filling onto each bottom half using an 8–10mm (3⁄8″) serrated tip then top with a line of chocolate–whisky ganache.

Place the tops on and dust with icing sugar. Chill until ready to serve the same day and dress them up for Christmas!

This recipe is from Tea Time in Paris! A gorgeous book of Paris pastries by Jill Colonna

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