Friday, May 5, 2017

White Chocolate and Raspberry Paris-Brest - they're wheel-y wheel-y delicious!

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Who doesn’t, at some stage, have lonely egg yolks languishing in their fridge. There they sit, dreaming of a better life, (cue violins) until one day the fridge door opens... light floods in... and their crusted remains are consigned to the bin. Awwwwww...

"I coulda been a contender. I coulda been been somebody..." Eggy Malloy, On the Waterfront
The talented and lovely Jill Colonna, author of Mad About Macarons le book, and le blog (and now Teatime in Paris) threw down the gauntlet of the egg yolk challenge and I happily accepted an invitation to guest post on what was then the first anniversary of Alchemy, back in 2011. 
The egg yolk challenge was a great idea because we've all had a bowl of forlorn egg yolks sitting in the fridge at some point. Having been parted from their whites – who have gone on to star as Magnificent Macarons, Marvellous Meringues, or Superb Soufflés – the poor old yolk tends to be forgotten.
Egg yolks can achieve greatness too. After all, Botticelli painted The Birth of Venus using egg yolk-based paint. While Botticelli provided a feast for the eyes, here is something you can actually get your teeth into.  Gateau Paris-Brest is a delectable choux pastry, named after the famous Paris – Brest bicycle race. The shape represents a wheel. Here it is in miniature, my Summery version with raspberries and white chocolate pastry cream.

L'inspiration - a velo at Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert (which I always read as 'dessert'...)
For 10 – 12 gorgeous little pastries you will need…
Pastry Cream (crème pâtissière)
300mls fresh milk
50g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
15g plain flour
15g cornflour
4 egg yolks
50g good quality white chocolate, chopped

Heat the milk in a medium saucepan until just simmering.

Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the vanilla extract and sugar until thick and paler in colour. Add in the salt, plain flour and cornflour and whisk until incorporated.

Slowly add the simmering milk to the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time (never add cold eggs to hot liquid unless you want scrambled eggs). Mix well and return the liquid to the saucepan. Continue to whisk over a low heat until the liquid has become a thick custard. This will take about 3 or 4 minutes. Make sure not to boil the custard or it will become grainy and may scramble. The custard is thick enough when it coats the back of a wooden spoon and a finger pulled though this coating leaves a clean trail.

Add in the white chocolate and stir until it has melted into the custard.
Transfer to a bowl and cover with cling film, making sure the cling film makes contact with the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until ready to use. This can be prepared ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

Egg yolks – in the right company – are capable of greatness too

Choux Pastries
150mls water
50g butter
70g strong white flour/plain flour
A pinch of fine salt
2 eggs beaten
25g flaked almonds

You will also need a punnet of fresh raspberries

when you are ready to bake the choux wheels.

Heat the water and butter together in a medium saucepan until the butter has melted and the liquid is simmering

Carefully tip the flour and salt into the liquid in one go. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a soft ball of paste and no dry flour remains. Spread the ball of paste over the bottom of the saucepan and leave to cool to room temperature.

When the paste has cooled, add in the beaten egg a little at a time, whisking well between additions. An electric whisk is best for this job. You want a smooth glossy soft paste that will hold its shape so check the mixture as you go along as you may not need to add all the egg.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (fan oven).  Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe circles of the mixture (approximately 8cm/3 inches in diameter) onto a lightly buttered baking tray, leaving 5cm/2 inches between circles. Scatter the tops of the circles with almond flakes and transfer to the oven. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and poke 2 horizontal slits in the side of each pastry to release some steam. Return to the oven for a further 2 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.

Assemble the little pastries just before serving: slice them in half horizontally. Beat the cooled pastry cream until smooth. For a really decadent touch, I sometimes stir a tablespoon of mandarin brandy into the pastry cream at this stage. Pipe onto the lower half of the pastry wheel and add fresh raspberries. Replace the top and dust with icing sugar.

These little pastries are perfect snack as you cycle from Paris to Brest, or perhaps keep a few beside your easel for energy as you paint a Renaissance masterpiece – using egg-yolk-based paint of course!

We taste wheel-y wheel-y delicious!

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