Paris-Brest Recipe

Paris-Brest is one of those pastries that’s made from things you probably already know how to make, just assembled in a different way. The proportions are rough because Paris-Brest is not an exact science. Or perhaps I should say that making it an exact science spoils the fun. Like most classic recipes, there are many possible ways to prepare Paris-Brest. The choux shell is a constant, but they can be any size, round or éclair-shaped, filled with either pastry cream, buttercream or whipped cream (or a combination) and flavored with praline, coffee, vanilla or whatever your inspiration may dictate. It goes (roughly) like so:

For the Shell

1 1/2 recipes pâte à choux
1 egg yolk
about 2 ounces sliced, blanched almonds
powdered sugar for dusting

For the Filling

about 12 ounces pastry cream
about 4 ounces praline paste
double recipe Chantilly cream

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, trace a circle 10 inches in diameter (do this on the back side of the paper with a pencil, then turn the sheet over…you’ll still be able to see it). Place the choux in a pastry bag without a tip or coupler and pipe it in a circle along the line. Then pipe another circle just inside it. Pipe one more circle on top, in the middle of the other two, and you’re ready to go. Paint the choux with the beaten egg yolk, sprinkle the almonds all over and insert the sheet pan in the oven.

Bake 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375 and bake another 25 minutes or so until puffy and golden. Turn off the heat, prop open the oven door, and allow the ring to cool slowly in the oven for about another 30 minutes. Remove the sheet pan to the counter and allow the ring to cool completely.

Meanwhile, combine the pastry cream and praline paste and beat well until the mixture is uniform. Prepare the Chantilly cream and place it in a pastry bag with a large star tip. When ready to assemble, gently slice off the top third of the ring with a serrated knife and set it aside. Spoon the pastry cream into the bottom of the shell, the top it with the Chantilly cream. Slice the top of the ring into serving-sized pieces and replace them on the top of the pastry (this will make it easier to slice later). Dust your Paris-Brest with powdered sugar and serve.

11 thoughts on “Paris-Brest Recipe”

  1. This is definitely one of those desserts I’ll save for an “impress-my-friends” dinner. Might have to arrange that pronto.

  2. Well, as always one takes culinary stories with a grain of sugar, but the general claim is that this was invented in Maisons-Laffitte by pastrymaker Louis Durand who was on the route of the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race. The race began in 1891, and one source places the pastry’s invention around then, but more often it’s said he came up with the pastry (which I used to stone love in Paris) in 1910. Some even say the pastry’s (approximately round) shape is meant to evoke a bicycle wheel. The French Wikipedia says some pastrymakers even go full out and create “spokes”.

    Have I found any period confirmation of all this? I have not. But the terms involved are so common I can’t claim that’s conclusive.

      1. Why thanks (as always) :).

        Meanwhile, it seemed very unlikely to me that the French would have never thought before to put pralines with choux pastry. In fact, the idea goes back pretty far, but tracing it is a bit complicated by the fact that originally a praline was a candied almond or similar item. It took a long time to make its way to even the early twentieth century meaning.

        The idea of combining ground nuts of some sorts in a sugar base with a choux pastry appears pretty early in the nineteenth century. The big step for the Paris-Brest was probably making it larger, in a wheel shape (initially at least), and then (perhaps as an inevitable side-effect) making it a bit crisper (as, in my memory, Paris-Brests are).

        Definition of praline as candied almond or other candied sweet

        Definition of praline as a little candy, made from almonds or pistachio, browned in sugar.

        Choux pralines (with almonds)

        Petit choux with filberts (powdered and blended with sugar and egg white)

        1. That’ll make some handy reference material for the post! But to your point, I’m sure somebody, somewhere in France combined praline paste with pastry cream and used it to fill from choux pastry before it was immortalized as Paris-Brest. My feeling is this was simply an example of successful marketing crowding out what others probably did before.

  3. where have all the pictures gone. your prep technique and final pictures were always so helpful. and now i feel so lost without them :(

    1. I’m not sure what you mean, Allna. They haven’t gone anywhere. Start clicking in the pastry category to the left… You’ll find more pictures than ever. Cheers,


  4. did you see this updated version of le paris-brest? choux au craquelin are taking over the french pastry world!

    i’m especially intrigued by the cremeux au praline. by using gelatine you can reduce the usual amount of butter by half. and the heavy-cream-praline emulsion they pipe on top of the cremeux or the creme mousseline will certainly intensify the praline flavor.

    i know what i’m trying out this weekend.

    and here’s a video of lenotre making the version with the paris-brest cream that still dominates the pastry shops today–a large amount of butter is creamed with praline paste and then room temperature pastry cream is gradually beaten in. it’s interesting to see him complain a little about the commercial brand of praline and explain how easy it is to make yourself. i see you’ve already shown your readers how to make it.

    1. Fabulous stuff, Ascanius!

      I’m not surprised by the Paris-Brest. In fact I’m planning on doing a croquembouche soon and am planning on using choux au craquelin for it. I’m sure I won’t be the first!

      Thanks again.

      – Joe

  5. I just wanted to let you know I made this last night for a dinner party and it was amazing!!!! Your instructions plus photos make it very easy to understand, it came out a great Thankyou!

    1. Wonderful to hear, Gabrielle! Thank you very much for checking back in to tell me!


      – Joe

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