Comptoir Gourmand’s take on a French favourite
In 1910, the city of Paris decided to commemorate a bicycle race with a pastry—a very French move, and all the better for being so. Cycling 1,200km from Paris to Brest and back is all well and good, but it’s no puffy, sticky, cream-filled choux.
It’s no Paris-Brest: named for the race, but bearing no similarity to the ordeal beyond the name and the round shape which just might, if you’re so-minded, resemble a bike wheel. We at Friday feeling are not so minded—and besides, Comptoir Gourmand’s version of the Paris-Brest is more squat than a wheel and has been renamed the far more descriptive ‘choux praline’.
“It is choux pastry filled with hazelnut cream,” explains Abu. “It's very popular in France, and in Borough Market.” Piped full of nutty, sweet smooth cream, it proves an eminently worthy rival to the eclair, with its comparatively plain white cream.
Though a close cousin of the choux praline, the eclair is not a sibling. “The choux is slightly different. With pastry, temperature has a great impact—you use a slightly higher heat when you are baking this sort of choux.”
There is a shift: a slight one, granted, but there's a subtle, toasty sense to the choux which is enhanced, of course, by the praline’s butteriness. The odd hazelnut chip brightens up the cream with a sharp crunch; the caramelised sweetness mellows it out softly—and the first bite billows with filling.
There’s only one bike-based thrill which comes close to this: the exhilarating joy of freewheeling downhill… to a bakery.