A traditional French dessert with a twist. Although quite time consuming, it's definitely worth it. This Paris-Brest has an incredible texture, a crispy shell of choux pastry, it's filled with vanilla cream, and topped with crunchy toasted almonds, zesty lemon curd and crushed meringues.
Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Add the water, unsalted butter, salt, sugar into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Once at a boil take off the heat and add the flour with a wooden spoon, quickly stir in the flour mixture well then return to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth dough ball. Roughly after 3-4 minutes.
Transfer the dough from the pan to a medium sized bowl, and beat with wooden spoon on low speed a minute or two to release the steam from the dough or spread dough on a work surface.
Once the dough is lukewarm, add one egg and continue to mix. then add the second egg and continue to mix. then add the 3rd egg and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick shiny paste.
To test to the right consistency, pinch off about a teaspoon of the dough. Then with your thumb and index finger, slowly pull the dough apart. The dough should stretch, not break. If it breaks, beat in a little more egg.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to a large piping bag fitted with a large plain tip. Pipe a double layer circle onto the baking tray.
Brush with egg wash and then sprinkle on the toasted flaked almonds.
Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 177°C. Bake for a further 40 minutes, or until the Paris Brest is a golden brown color, puffed, and crisp. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly open and let the shell dry out for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Beat the cream and vanilla in a metal bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer just until they hold a loose peak. (Lift the beater from the cream and look at the shape of the peak at the end of the whisk; it should hold a slight curve). Sift the sugar over the cream and continue to beat just until it holds a soft peak. Take care not to over beat the cream or it will look curdy. Once your choux pastry rings are cooled, cut in half and on the bottom ring pipe the cream on.
Put the lemon zest, juice, sugar and butter in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water (known as bay marie).
Stir occasionally until the butter has melted. Then, using a small whisk, stir in the beaten egg. Keep gently whisking the mixture over the heat for around 10 minutes until thickened.
Preheat oven to 150°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
In a large clean metal bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until glossy. Stir in vanilla. Pipe or spoon small portions onto tray and bake for 35 minutes, or until dry but not browned. Turn off the oven but leave meringues to cool down inside the oven.
Once cooled, roughly crush.
With the top half of the choux pastry ring, lightly paint the top with the lemon curd then sprinkle the crushed meringue over.
Place on top of the other half.