Spiced Cranberry & Chocolate Paris-Brest
November 16, 2018
Welcome back folks! We’re really kicking this season off with the abundance of thanksgiving inspired recipes. Is it a little extra? Maybe. But let’s be honest, at this time of the year, I’m thankful that I get to be a little extra.
Earlier this week, I urged all of my fans to do something I call counting blessings as a means of fully extending appreciation for the connections you have with other people, things, or ideas. Over the course of the next few posts, I’ll be sharing all of the one’s I’ve been counting for a little inspo!
It’s no surprise that the one of the first blessings that came to mind is baking. I am so thankful to have been able to find the one thing that I can turn to during rougher times so early on in my life.
There is something about pastry that I can’t quite put my finger that puts a smile on my face. Perhaps it’s simply the opportunity it gives me to engage all of my senses in a way that I can enjoy myself without feeling the need to be rushed. The satisfying crack of an egg against the counter top. The magnificent rise of bread dough after it’s first prove. The invigorating scent of spices & herbs working it’s subtle magic.
Despite the multi-sensory nature of the pastry arts, I have never felt overwhelmed by it. I have learnt to use baking as a medium to come to terms with my emotions and values, and ultimately make peace with myself.
Baking has taught me so much about caring, for others, but also about caring for myself. Just last year, the mere thought of failure would stress me. Whether it be bad grades, relationship drama, or just a failed bake, I always found a way to blame myself for things that were simply out of my control.
After numerous encounters of failure both in and out of the kitchen, I realized a lesson that has become so valuable to me: own your failures and embrace them with a smile on your face. Because at the end of the day, looking forward with light will create a better experience both for you & for those around you. People don’t always care that your recipe went south. They care that you took the time, thought, & effort to make something for them.
This week’s bake is another recipe that is perfect for the Thanksgiving table. Personally, I love paris brest because it’s technically a giant cream puff that can be shared with other people. The bigger the better, and the more the merrier. At least in this case. :)
This recipe is adapted from a huge inspiration and star in the baking & pastry world, Zoë François. Zoe is truly an inspiration in her craft, whether it be baking, writing, or video editing. In fact, I can (shamelessly) say that her Instagram story tutorials turn out to be the highlight of whatever week they happen to fall into.
In order to stick with fall produce, I switched out the raspberry in her original recipe with cranberry & spices, and also replaced the almonds on the cream puff with pepitas. If you’re looking for something creative to do with pate choux, this fella is definitely a challenge worth trying.
See you soon!
Recipe adapted from Zoe Bakes
Ingredients (makes 2 9-inch Paris Brest)
For the Pate Choux
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of milk
115g of butter, unsalted
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 cup of bread flour
2 tbsp. of powdered sugar
4 or 5 eggs (plus more for an egg wash)
1/4 cup of raw pepitas
For the Spiced Pastry Cream
2 cups of whole milk
1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 + 1/2 tbsp. of ground cinnamon
1 + 1/2 tsp. of ground ginger
2 tbsp. of unsalted butter
For the Cranberry Compote
2 cups of cranberries
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tbsp. of water
juice of 1/2 lemon
For the Cranberry Cream Filling
230g of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of cranberry compote
1 batch of spiced pastry cream
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup of dark chocolate
Combine the water, milk, butter, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat.
Once the mixture boils, dump in the flour and powdered sugar all at once.
Remove from heat and vigorously stir until the flour is fully incorporated.
Return the dough to low heat and continue mixing until a thin layer of film forms on and sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, crack 5 eggs and whisk until combined.
Pour a small amount (about 1/5) of the eggs into the dough and mix until fully incorporated. Continue this process, adding more egg only until the previous addition is fully incorporated. *
Transfer the choux dough to a pastry big with a round tip.
Trace the outline of a round, flat object of 9 inches in diameter on to a parchment lined baking sheet. Pipe a ring of choux outside the outline, an adjacent ring one inside the outline, and finally one ring on top of the two.
Bake in a preheated 190C/375F degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Reduce the temperature to 175C/350F and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the choux cool for one hour. **
Spiced Pastry Cream
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar, and spices until smooth. Set aside.
Heat the milk over medium heat until it simmers and very slowly pour into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid curdling.
Return the mixture to the stove over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened. Whisk in the butter.
Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly touching the pastry cream. Let cool to room temperature.
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a pot over high heat.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by at least half the original volume.
Spiced Cranberry Cream Filling
Cream the butter until light & fluffy. Add in the cranberry compote and salt and continue beating until aerated.
Slowly incorporated the cooled pastry cream (about 1/4 cup at a time) until fully incorporated. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice the paris brest shells length wise - the top layer should look slightly thinner than the bottom layer.
Pipe shells (facing the inside of the ring) of the spiced cranberry cream filling along the bottom layer of the paris brest. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Repeat with another layer of pastry cream and chocolate chips.
Place the top layer of the paris brest on top and dust with powdered sugar.
*You may not need all of the the egg, but add enough until the dough falls into itself, or until a trough holds it’s shape when you run a wet finger through the dough
** If desired, you can make & bake the choux pastry the night or day before. Just make sure to wrap the shells well before freezing