black sesame & persimmon paris-brest

black sesame & persimmon paris-brest
black sesame & persimmon paris-brest

My posts have been fairly substance-less of late. I had meant to spend more time writing about things that matter far more than getting a proper puff on your choux or preventing soggy bottoms – pandemic fallout, policing and media to name a couple things. Yet, I’ve gradually returned to solid frivolities – a return signifying the privileges I have to be able to disengage from matters of life-and-death for others, at least on the blog front. Recently the pace of life has picked up again and I’ve landed myself with quite a few more responsibilities (which I was rather enjoying the lack of during the last few months). While I’ve been having more significant conversations with family and friends (US politics top of mind, of course), as far as the blog goes, I’ll need to find a new equilibrium.

Writing this blog is certainly extremely low impact, but I think it contributes to the general milieu where we hear these issues emphasized over and over from various channels. It helps keep me from lapsing into (more) complacency – and organizing my thoughts in writing first helps me talk about them in person.

black sesame and persimmon paris-brest
black sesame and persimmon paris-brest
black sesame & persimmon paris-brest

Until then, here is a dessert. I haven’t baked too much lately so this one comes from about a year ago. I’ve been meaning to give Paris-Brest a crack for years – a wheel of choux (so named for a bicycle race route) filled with praline mousseline cream. I do like to mess with traditional desserts a bit, and my favourite thing to do is add a fruity element if one is not already there (kvaefjordekake is very amenable to such an adaptation).

In this case, I filled the bottom of the choux with spiced persimmon compote – and a bit of lemon juice ensures a bit of brightness.

In the mousseline, I used black sesame for a striking gray colour and a wonderfully toasty flavour. Made by beating pastry cream with butter and praline paste, a considerable amount of air is whipped in, making for a cream that is curiously light in spite of all that butter! Contrary to my worries, the filling doesn’t taste oily or overly sweet… though it is undeniably rich. The black sesame is intense though – if you’re not sure you’re a fan, this is a bit of a commitment!

black sesame & persimmon paris-brest

black sesame & persimmon paris-brest

  • Servings: five Paris-Brest about 11cm in diametre
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black sesame praline paste

Makes extra, around 200g.

  • 90g black sesame
  • 100g granulated sugar

In a dry frypan, toast the black sesame seeds until fragrant, stirring (you’ll have to rely on your sense of smell and taste as they won’t appear noticeably toasted). Remove from the pan and let cool.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and around a 1/4 cup of water. Boil until the sugar is dissolved, then continue cooking until the sugar syrup turns a deep amber. Stir in the black sesame seeds and quickly pour out over a parchment lined baking tray. Let cool, then chop finely with a large knife.

Place the chopped praline in the bowl of a food processor and process until a paste forms. It will take quite a while to make a paste, and it will be stiffer than a nut praline paste. The praline will first become a dry sandy powder, then a wet sandy powder, before becoming a stiff paste. At the sandy stage I added a tsp of neutral vegetable oil to help the paste along. I pureed only to the point of thick paste which still retains a bit of texture.

spiced persimmon compote

  • 2 fuyu persimmons
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 a cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 large or 6 small green cardamom pods
  • 1 small slice fresh ginger

Peel the persimmons and cut into small dice. I realized that the smaller the dice, the better they fit into the bottom of the choux rings!

Place in a small saucepan along with the sugar, spices and a splash of water. Simmer until the fruit is tender and the liquid has reduced, about 20 minutes.

choux

Makes enough for 5-6 choux rings, piped on a guide circle of 8cm in diametre and baking up to a diametre of around 11cm.

  • 65g butter
  • 150mL water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • good pinch salt
  • 80g whole wheat flour
  • about 2 eggs – may need more or less
  • black sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper – on the backside, trace five 8-cm diametre circles.

In a saucepan, brown the butter. Let cool a bit before adding the water, milk, sugar and salt, then bring to a boil, add the flour and quickly mix in with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat and continue to cook the mixture until it forms a ball and a dry film on the bottom of the pot. Remove the pastry from the heat and let cool slightly before adding the egg, a bit at a time – use either the wooden spoon or switch to a wire whisk if preferred. You may need or more less of the eggs – the dough should be shiny, but not fluid. It should be able to drop from a spoon, but still hold its shape – in this case, because I want some definition in the pastry, I erred a bit on the stiffer side.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe 5 (or you may have enough for 6) rounds following the 8cm diametre circle guides traced on the parchment. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Place in the oven and turn the temperature down to 400F. Bake for around 25 minutes or until deeply browned. Once out of the oven, cut slits into the sides of the rings to allow steam to escape.

black sesame praline mousseline cream

Makes enough for five paris-brest. Adapted from the Boy Who Bakes

pastry cream

  • 375g whole milk
  • 37g cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 eggs
  • 20g granulated sugar
  • 37g butter

mousseline cream

  • 150g room temperature butter
  • 120g black sesame praline paste

To make the pastry cream, whisk together the eggs, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Heat the milk in a saucepan until boiling, then add a bit at a time to egg mixture, whisking in each addition thoroughly in order to temper the eggs. Return to the saucepan and cook over medium while whisking constantly. Look for the pastry cream to begin to bubble and to thicken considerably. To ensure the starch is cooked, let the pastry cream cook at a bubble for at least 1 minute (all the while whisking very vigorously!). Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl, cover and chill.

To make the mousseline cream, whip together the butter and praline paste with the whisk attachment in the standmixer, scraping down the sides as needed, until smooth and light. Add the cold pastry cream in four additions, thoroughly whisking after each addition and being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. At the end, whip for a few minutes until the mousseline cream is quite light and fluffy.

assembly

Slice the choux rings in half. Spoon persimmon compote into the bottom of the rings. Transfer the mousseline cream to a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe spirals (2-4 rounds high) over the compote. Place the top of the pastry over the piped cream and dust with a bit of icing sugar.

6 thoughts on “black sesame & persimmon paris-brest

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