Preps for the 24th: a Paris Brest and Dreaming of Zen Cocktail

Tic toc, tic toc…is all your shopping and preparations done for Christmas? Me neither! Well most of the the shopping is done but the next days will be jam packed.

-Dinner tonight with 2 girlfriends at my place (only our 3rd try but NO REASON for unforseen events yet). This will be relax and fun and we will cook together.
-Tomorrow more shopping but more stuff for me like a bit of clothes and spend the gift certificate I won at work at Futureshop!
– Wed cooking for the 24th, wrapping presents and packing for an overnight.

My family tradition is as follow: the 24th immediate family and the 25th the whole family. I go to my parents straight from work laden with clothes, gifts, baked goods and sleep there. For maybe 2 decades now I am in charge of two recipes on Christmas Eve: the cocktail and the dessert. But I am bringing 3 this year, the third being a fancy snack to eat while opening the presents and drinking some bubbly.

I thought of instead showing you what I made after the 24th I would instead share what I will make…and then come back with the results after the celebrations. So this is on my menu this year:

Dreaming of Zen

adapted (original here)

  • 1 oz Zen Green Tea Liqueur
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 3 oz mango juice
  • white pepper
  • 1 oz cream
  • mint leaves for garnish

Pour the ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake well.
Strain into a Champagne flute.
Garnish with a mint leaves.

Paris Brest

This was a specific request from my mom. Its been a while since I have done this dessert. It is made with choux pastry. I first did choux pastry at a young age and always found it one of the oddest recipes to make but I have always been successful. The Paris Brest is actually named after a bicycle race between, your guessed it, Paris and Brest. It’s shape is representative of a bike wheel. For the holidays is passes well as a wreath too. Many recipes have a heavier filling but I like to just use crême Chantilly so I adapted the recipe below accordingly.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place a small pan containing about 2-3 cups of hot water onto the bottom of your oven ( directly onto the bottom of the oven) to generate steam. Lightly grease a large baking sheet with shortening and then dust lightly with flour. Use a 10 inch pan as a template and draw a 10 inch circle onto the flour dusted sheet using a toothpick. Set aside.
  2. Place the 4 eggs into a small measuring cup and mix with a fork to combine, set aside.
  3. Combine the milk, water, salt and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When it comes to a full boil, add the flour all at once and stir to make a paste. Continue to stir over the heat for about 40 seconds until the paste dries a little. Remove from heat and place paste into a mixing bowl. Let cool about 4 minutes.
  4. With a mixer on low, mix the paste and slowly add the beaten eggs in 4 shots. Mix slowly but thoroughly until all of the eggs have been added. Place the paste into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round decorating tip. Pipe the paste out onto the sheet pan following the 10 inch ring you outlined. Pipe a second ring around the inside next to this ring. Finally, pipe another ring on top of these two rings. Lightly paint the set of rings with the remaining 1 beaten egg and press the sliced almonds into the paste.
  5. Place in the oven on the lowest shelf and bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and bake about 12 minutes more or until brown. Remove form the oven and using a long serrated knife slice off the top half of the puffed ring. Remove any bits of raw dough on the inside of the ring. Replace the top and place back in the oven to crisp the dough, about 5 more minutes. Cool on a rack.
  6. To Make The Filling: Pour cream, sugar and vanilla extract into a large bowl and whip together lightly until stiff peaks just begin to form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe the cream mixture into the ring and then replace the top. If you wish, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar.

Dulche de Leche Mousse and Praline Hazelnut Verrine

Well I will have to be back with this recipe as it is a printed one from the the (I believe) December 2009 issue of Coup de Pouce, a French home magazine I get at home.  The picture is to give an idea of the concept…not that recipe’s result. But basically imagine a fine crystal shooter glass filled 1/3 maple syrup jelly with hazelnuts and 2/3 filled with a dulche de leche mousse.

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Come back to see the results of my accomplishments on the 27th!

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