(ffwd) paris-brest

I think it was close to a decade ago, maybe more, that I first fell in love with the Tour de France. I was no particular fan of cycling, not even of the movie Breaking Away, but I found myself in a solitary hotel room in Toronto on a business trip, and was drawn into watching a bike race across the French countryside. The network at the time had the iconic maple leaf as its logo, and though the network and the race itself, have changed over the years, it’s been a driving force for the month of July. I’ve made decisions about various television providers, solely based on the inclusion of the current network carrying the TDF. I even bought an HD TV to watch the race, but also the wonderful pictures of France. I lived in Texas at the time (another “hot spot” in the summer) when I fell in love with the Tour, and I wanted an escape from the heat, I now live in Arizona. With due respect to the record temperatures in the rest of the country, we always have to find some alternative for the summer months, for our many hours within-doors, much like the rest of you in those cold, dark winter months. One of our escapes is the Tour.

I was charmed when I found that Dorie included this iconic dessert in her book – that celebrated a famed bike race – Paris-Brest. I am, unfortunately, a single-month-only fan, though I occasionally peek at other results. But, I thought, it would be fun to create some bicycle-themed desserts to enjoy while celebrating the ultimate test of cycling ability.

Dorie’s recipe (and the classic dessert, I’m sure), contemplates a large cream puff, resembling a bicycle wheel. I, on the other hand, thought that individual “wheels” would be fun – so I endevoured to create small circles, but still filling with the amazing-sounding filling.

first, the puffs are baked
the sliced almonds did not stick to the small puffs and were quickly abandoned
I made a combination of “wheels” and tiny puffs, just for fun
thank you, my fellow Doristas who recommended leaving the puffs in the oven for a bit
blanched almonds are coated in caramel coating
and toasted
once complete, they go onto parchment to cool
then are whirled in a blender to chop finely
the chopped carmelized almonds are stirred into a classic vanilla pastry cream and then
piped into the wheels
dusted with a bit of powdered sugar and served with a
glass of French bubbly to toast the heroic efforts of the riders
in the TDF (go Mark Cavendish!)

I thought this was a lot of fun to make. If I were having a party, the large, single puff would be lovely with its toasted almonds on top. But this made for a nice little dessert, in honor of the boys of the peleton (who tonight will likely get to have some bubbly of their own. Though tomorrow they still have a ride, the Tour is mostly over – except for that last sprint along the Champs Elyses). Enjoy Paris!

14 thoughts on “(ffwd) paris-brest

  1. I put a light egg wash on mine before topping with the almonds and they all stuck. I don’t know why I even did that. I thought it was in the directions but when I read of other’s trouble with the almonds I went back and it wasn’t even in there. Weird. But try that next time and they will stick and your brest will have a nice sheen to it.

  2. Love that you just keep on wheelin’, Candy. I love the Tour de France also and often watch it with my son-in-law. My kids would often be visiting Michael and me in Aspen in July when the Tour was going. We’d get up at 6-ish to catch it “live” and then re-watch it in the late afternoon. Whenever they are not with me now, I watch it in the early morning and then call and give Stephen a blow by blow (he should be practicing law but he always takes his mother-in-law’s calls) and then he and the little girls watch it at night. He is a big biker. I was one of the last hold-outs defending Armstrong, believing he was clean. My s-in-l told me I was in la-la land! Your Paris-Brests in mini form are a perfect salute to the Tour. I may do that this year. Thanks for re-printing. I had never read this Post of yours.

  3. Great idea for the TDF. Like you, we have to find ways to escape the heat in the summer – our temps are usually neck in neck with yours in the Phoenix area.

  4. I like your mini wheels and its what I will do next time, or just stick with cream puffs. I also enjoy the Tour d France, Candy but several years ago when it seemed all the racers were doping I became disenchanted. I still enjoy the race but not with the same zeal. And Armstrong? Don’t get me started!

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