Makes: 9 pastries
For the choux pastry:
  • ½ cup (125 ml) milk
  • ½ cup (125 ml) water
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons (5 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 7 tablespoons (3 ½ oz./100 g) butter
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (5 oz./140 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 ml) eggs, lightly beaten (about 5 eggs)
  • Peeled and chopped almonds or hazelnuts for sprinkling
For the Pastry cream:
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • Generous ⅓ cup (3 ½ oz./100 g) egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup (1 ¾ oz./50 g) cornstarch
  • ⅔ cup (4 ½ oz./125 g) sugar, divided
  • 2 cups (500 ml) low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons (2 oz./50 g) unsalted butter
For the custard-based buttercream:
  • Scant ⅓ cup (3 oz./80 g) egg yolks
  • ½ cup (3 ½ oz./100 g) sugar, divided
  • Scant ½ cup (100 ml) whole milk
  • 3 ¾ sticks (15 oz./420 g) butter, room temperature
  • 1 lb. (450 g) praline paste
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Pour the milk and water into a heavy saucepan over low heat and stir in the sugar and salt. Add the butter. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.
  3. Pour in all the flour and mix energetically with a wooden spoon to combine.
  4. Return to low heat briefly, stirring constantly, to dry the batter out. Continue until the batter pulls away from the bottom of the saucepan.
  5. Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and holds soft peaks.
  6. Draw 3 to 3 ½ inch (7 to 8 cm) diameter circles on 2 sheets of parchment paper. Place the sheets, drawing side down, on 2 baking sheets. Spoon the choux batter into a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch (16-mm) plain or star tip. Pipe circles of batter into the traced circles and sprinkle the tops with the chopped nuts.
  7. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, keeping a careful eye on the choux. They must be golden, nicely puffed up, and firm to the touch. If you remove them too soon, they will deflate.
  8. Place the baked choux rounds on a cooling rack and leave for 12 hours or overnight.
  9. To make the pastry cream, slit the vanilla beans lengthwise with a small knife and scrape the seeds into a mixing bowl. (You’ll need the pods for the next step.) Add the egg yolks, cornstarch, and half the sugar, and whisk together until the sugar has dissolved.
  10. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, bring the milk to a boil with the remaining sugar, butter, and the empty vanilla bean pods.
  11. Slowly pour the boiling milk over the egg yolk mixture, stirring well, and then return the mixture to the saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
  12. Pour the pastry cream into a heatproof dish or bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and allow to cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator until the next day.
  13. Following the recipe on page 18, prepare the praline paste, setting aside about 50 whole caramelized almonds for garnish. Store them in an airtight container.
  14. For the custard-based buttercream, whisk the egg yolks and half the sugar until pale and thick.
  15. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, bring the milk to a boil with the remaining sugar. Pour it gradually over the egg yolk-sugar mixture, stirring constantly.
  16. Return the liquid to the saucepan over low heat. Whisking constantly, heat the custard to 187°F (86°C).
  17. Pour the custard into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk at medium speed until the custard has cooled completely. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use an electric beater or whisk by hand. Transfer the custard to another mixing bowl. It should be the same temperature as the butter when you combine the two.
  18. Clean the bowl you have just used and place the butter in it. Whisk at high speed for 5 minutes, until the butter is light and fluffy.
  19. Pour the custard over the butter, and whisk until completely combined.
  20. Now add the praline paste and whisk for 1 or 2 minutes further, until combined. Chill the cream for 1 hour.
  21. Whisk the chilled praline buttercream to aerate it again.
  22. Remove the vanilla beans from the chilled pastry cream and weigh out 1 ¼ lb. (500 g). Whisk it briefly to ensure that it is smooth again. Transfer it to the bowl of the stand mixer with the whisked praline buttercream and beat together until completely combined.
  23. To assemble, cut the rounds of choux pastry in half horizontally.
  24. Spoon the filling into a piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice (plain or star tip), and pipe out a first circle of cream over the lower halves of the choux pastry. Add more cream, filling generously. Place 5 or 6 caramelized almonds evenly on the cream. Set the top half of the choux pastry over the cream and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.
  25. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Recipe by Bakepedia at