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They’re actually supposed to be something known as a Paris-Brest, a particularly special variant of a cream puff.
It all started with a bicycle race called the Paris-Brest-Paris (named after its route), which began in 1891 and is still run today, although not as an actual competition apparently. This celebratory version of a cream puff was created to commemorate the race, because everyone knows that pastry cream is exactly what you need when you’re riding a bicycle for 1200 kilometers (roughly 745 miles).
Traditionally, the Paris-Brest is a cream puff that is piped into the shape of an 8-inch ring, cut in half after baking, and filled with an almond-spiked pastry cream. It’s said that the ring shape mimics the shape of a bicycle wheel, which I suppose is true enough considering that they’re both circular. The dessert can be quite impressive to look at and undoubtedly requires some pastry-making skill.
I like to think I have some pastry-making skill and could make a Paris-Brest if I had the time and energy to do so. But, I have a two-month old baby, and time and energy are in short supply. I decided to simplify things and just make cream puffs.
I’ve made the pâte à choux before, long ago when the Doristas made the goat-cheese puffs in 2012. It’s easy to do, but – as I noted then – once started, they require full attention. Just like a baby! The pastry cream is pretty much the same type of thing, in that it demands full attention once it’s started. I made the pastry cream Wednesday evening while Geordie watched Hannah, and I was exceedingly pleased with it. It may be an involved process, but it’s a relatively short one, and one that ends with glorious results. One moment, the milk and egg and sugar mixture is all liquid and loose – the next, it’s lovely and thick and creamy. Very fine, indeed. The choux pastry I didn’t have a chance to make until today, in the afternoon. Hannah cooperated, for the most part; she woke up just as I was mixing in the eggs, cried a bit while I spooned out the puffs, and then pouted all the while they were baking. I think she’s just upset that she’s going to have to wait quite a bit before she can have one herself.
I’d pout too if I were her.
They’re not the prettiest little cream puffs ever made, but they’re delicious. I wish I’d made less of them, because I’m extremely tempted to make them my dinner. Much like the goat cheese puffs, I find these completely irresistible. The puffs are delightful enough by themselves, but the addition of the pastry cream puts them completely over the edge. Delicious doesn’t actually do them justice. They are beyond terrific. I want them all the time, except I also want to lose weight, so that’s right out.
I’ll be dreaming about these cream puffs tonight, that’s for sure. They’ll be haunting me for weeks. I can’t wait to make them again. Perhaps when Hannah is a little more autonomous. It certainly is a nice little treat I can’t wait to share with her in a few years.
To see some very lovely and proper Paris-Brest creations, check out the French Friday links. This seems to have been a popular dessert with the Doristas, no matter how the pastry came out. And no surprise!
I already did all this on Facebook, but I wanted to share on the blog too. Last week, we had our twenty week anatomy scan, our first look at Niko since April @ 8 weeks. If all goes well, it should be the last before the December debut. So, we were eager to learn if Lauren was going to have a baby sister or a baby brother.
At first, Niko was not so cooperative, much like Lauren was early on. So the tech went on to take all the other measurements and even get a picture of Niko sucking on a thumb, and by the time she was done with that, Niko had moved into a more accessible position. The tech easily identified the genitals, and Niko’s sex was no longer a secret.
That very same night, we began discussing name possibilities (still undecided), and I began planning the sex reveal. The day before, I had decided to make cupcakes (naturally) – a nice chocolate cupcake with one of two frostings: raspberry for a girl, blueberry for a boy.
That’s right, friends, Lauren has got a little sister.
I admit, I was kinda hoping on a boy, for many reasons, but I’m sure y’all know that I would love love love to bring home a happy, healthy girl. And she seems to be all of those things at the moment! She’s quite energetic, and she’s been making her presence known frequently lately. We’re very excited to have her in our lives.
Now we just need to decide on a name!
No, I haven’t given up on French Fridays with Dorie. But various circumstances – not just limited to pregnancy! – kept me from participating in June. Last week’s wheat berry and tuna salad didn’t appeal to me (it was the tuna – I haven’t had much stomach for it lately), and next week’s swordfish is also one I’m going to have to skip, reluctantly, because it’s one of those high-mercury fish that pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat. Also, we’re in a bit of a financial crunch right now, and I’m budgeting grocery spending very, very strictly.
I made an exception for these cherries because 1) they were on sale, and 2) I love cherries. I especially love the big Bing cherries that are so prevalent this time of year. Other cherries, like the little pink Rainiers, are okay, but not my favorite. It’s Bing all the way. No way could I resist this clafoutis. (hint: don’t pronounce the ‘s.’)
What exactly is a clafoutis? Well, it’s kind of like a cake-custard-pudding thing with cherries. I really don’t know how else to put it. It’s got a batter which isn’t flour-y enough to be cake or egg-y enough to be custard or slippery enough to be pudding. It’s just all of those things. Traditional clafoutis are made with whole cherries, pits included. Inconvenient, yes, but supposedly necessary for the best flavor. Of course, it can be made with pitted cherries, but that sounds like extra work and messy work at that.
The first (and only other) time I had clafoutis was in New York City, when my mother and I went to a performance of the ballet Giselle. (The trip was actually for a job interview to teach English in Japan, which I’m very happy to say I got, leading to three of the best years of my life. I should write about it some time, as it was the funnest job interview I’ve ever had. It lasted three days and took place in the Empire State Building.) Anyway, the restaurant at the theater served us a modern French meal, which was finished off by a little dish of cherry clafoutis. This one was a little more tart-like, very similar to the alternative that Dorie provides in her bonne idée, and I don’t remember it having whole cherries. It was still delicious.
This was also delicious. I made it for our 4th of July dessert, because why not?
Mine puffed up real good. It deflated as it cooled, though, and that made it a little more manageable. It had to bake a little longer than what Dorie suggested, but that’s okay. Because I was also going to be baking our dinner, I’d made this earlier in the day and it had all the time it needed.
After dinner, we settled down in the living room to try to watch some Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which was eventually drowned out by the local fireworks. No, not official fireworks. Just neighborhood, suburban fireworks. Apparently, Texans love fireworks. The cats, on the other hand, were not so keen. Neither were we when we woke up the next morning and saw the assorted firework debris that had collected in the yard.
At least we had clafoutis to comfort us.
The pits were not a problem for me. I think Geordie would have preferred to have them removed. But then he topped his with some ice cream, and he had nothing else to complain about. I’d like to make this again with some mixed berries; I’m hoping raspberries will go on sale eventually this summer. Maybe I’ll make that for my birthday next month.
This was a very nice dessert indeed, and I’m very glad I made it.
Because I am going on vacation to Florida for two weeks starting this Sunday, I probably won’t be able to do the rest of the July recipes. Even if I do, I won’t be actively seeking out a way to post on the blog (or do anything else internet-related either), so there ya go. But I’m hoping to get back to my regular French Friday cooking come August. I’ve missed it!
This was a popular dessert among the Doristas (no surprise!), and to see their beautiful clafoutis, check out the links over on the FFwD blog. See you guys in August!