There are a few pastries with the name Paris…something. This time, these are supposed to be eclair shaped choux pastries with hazelnut praline pastry cream. Oh, and a little chocolate glaze.
This is really 4 different (relatively simple) recipes combined to create something more than the sum of their parts.
So. Hazelnuts. They are not my favorites, though iconically French. I was tempted to swap them out. Macadamias! Pecans! And truth be told, part of it is peeling them. Do not like. So messy!
I looked up methods online. Apparently, Alice Medrich showed the process to Julia Child, and it works!! A little disconcerting with the boiling and coloring, and while still time-consuming, it worked perfectly. Boil water with some baking soda, add hazelnuts, cooking for about 3 minutes, into a cold water bath, and then peel away!
The water gets purple! And it’s still a little labor intensive. But! As it turns out, the hazelnuts for our recipe were not supposed to be toasted, so this was perfect! Kismet. Needed to let those hazelnuts dry, so onto my choux paste.
I have been making (cream) puffs practically my entire life. But not these ones. My mom and dad hosted plenty of business dinners and fun parties in our small town in Michigan. It was back in the day when home entertaining for business was more prevalent. Plus living in a town with one small restaurant that today might be considered a coffee shop? Well, we had quite a number of guests from Europe and around the country. So my mom hosted many parties. One of her favorite appetizers (that I happily got to pass) we’re savory cream puffs. In fact, I’m sure I was an adult before I ever had sweet ones. Probably why I love, love gougeres of all kinds.
OK, so, while I might not be an expert, I still think choux puffs are easy. The biggest trick for me was the timing for baking. Finally I got it done. Butter, water, salt and sugar brought to a boil. Flour is added, and then cooked until it comes together and cleans from the side of the pan. Then eggs are added to the dough. I piped my puffs the easy way, though to be fair, even a teaspoon will work. The tricky thing was timing. At the end, I baked my mini-puffs as long or longer than noted for the larger eclairs in the book. Eventually they were nice and crisp. So. Next up. Hazelnut praline. Sugar is slowly caramelized. Once it’s caramelized, chopped hazelnuts are added, then cooked until nicely toasted, then dropped onto a prepared pan to cool and crisp.
Pastry cream? Did I say that I originally planned to divide this recipe? Since eggs for different recipe were 3, I would make a third. But none of the recipes were huge, so I made the full amount. This was ok. Maybe should have cooked longer. But the cream is made, then chilled covered closely. Next? The praline gets chopped in the food processor, a bit of the pastry cream added, then all folded together. The final component is a a chocolate glaze made with cocoa powder and confectioners sugar. The trick getting the right consistency. All that remained was assembling the Paris Paris puffs! I also used the ziploc bag trick to fill them. Then swathed in chocolate, the 36 puffs were done!!They needed to be chilled for an hour or so before serving.
So. The result? Initially, they were pretty sweet. Too sweet. And since hazelnut is not my favorite favor, well.. but. We shared with friends, and they were mesmerized. And the next day, not so sweet. Pretty delicious. I think oftentimes I’m overly critical. Over the few days that we’re told these will last in the refrigerator. Amazingly, they have disappeared!!
What I really am inspired to do is to make these again. Both sweet versions (pastry cream with fruit!!!) and revisiting savory varieties. Choux paste is so very fun. Mini servings are charming. And oh, I have more peeled hazelnuts tucked away, so it’s a bit easier to add them in. I
So many options, and this was a wonderful reminder of how wonderful choux puffs can be!
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