Monday 19 February 2018

Kind of a Paris-Brest with smoked coffee buttercream.

Here I am, again. 
I didn't imagine to open this blog again. 
I decided to take a long pause and drop it forever. Well, you know, I couldn't. 

Not my fault. 😇 
It's MTC's fault. Greta's fault. Alessandra's fault and Ele's fault.
They know why. 😊

I can't stop smoking, now. I mean, this technique is amazing, I've tried a lot of things, I even made my Birthday cake with a smoked chocolate mousse, but this... this was much better than the cake. 
It's a kind of Paris-Brest but it's not. I don't know how to call it, actually, it's a cross between an éclair and a Paris-Brest, a new fashion treat among french pastry chefs. A trend, if you want. 
And what a trend!
I wanted to fill it up with a smoked cream. A smoked coffee cream. I tried several ways, and at the final attempt, I ended lightly smoking the butter, to achieve exactly what I wanted.
Just a few words on my choices and ingredients selection. I've worked with Sumatra coffee because of its full body and low acidity, characteristics that make it perfect in pastry. I've smoked with almond wood chips, because I wanted a light and nutty smoke flavour for my finished cream. This is the same reason why I cold smoked the butter, a very good quality one, indeed. The cocoa beans also give their boost to all the preparation. It's amazing what they can do when used to smoking. Just try. 
Also, I decided to hot smoking the coffee, using the same way we do for ice, because it's liquid and with my little experiments I learnt it's not easy to smoke a liquid in another way, keeping the smoked flavour, without let it evaporate... 

Hope you'll like it.

And thank you. Thank you MTC, and Greta and everybody for everything.
You all were so important to me during the last months. 

Ok, ok, the recipe...

it goes like this: 

For 12 pieces

60 ml water
200 g flour
100 g butter
1 pinch of salt
4 whole eggs

60 g flour
60 g brown sugar (cassonade)
50 g softened butter

Coffee flavored smoked buttercream
8 egg yolks, room temperature
250 g sugar
250 g softened smoked butter (I used high quality Normand butter)
60 ml water
60 ml strong, reduced and smoked Sumatra coffee

To smoke the butter
250 g almond wood chips
scant one handful cocoa beans

To smoke the coffee
250 g almond wood chips
scant one handful cocoa beans
Enough Sumatra coffee to soak the chips

The first day:

The coffee: Prepare the Sumatra coffee as you use to do. I did it in an Italian Moka coffee machine. Old fashioned. Prepare about 150 ml of coffee, the, pour it on a saucepan and make it reduce by the half. I proceeded this way because normally, you have to use a coffee essence, but I wanted to keep natural and be able to smoke it. When the coffee has reduced, let it cool and freeze it in ice cubes containers.
Soak the almond wood chips in another batch of Sumatra coffee, enough to cover the chips. Let stay 8 hours or overnight.

The butter: Cut the butter into cubes and put it in a bowl big enough to contain it in one only layer. Butter must to be as cold as possible. Make a small nest with aluminium foil, introduce in it the chips and the cocoa beans, place it on the bottom of a pan. Place the butter bowl in a steamer basket that matches perfectly with your pot. Now, put the pot with the chips on high fire and wait for the smoke. When you see the smoke, cover the pot and let it fill up by the smoke. Then, place the steaming basket on the pot and cover it. Turn the fire off and let the butter stay there. I tried several times, but 35 minutes was enough for the smoked scent I wanted: light, smooth, just an aftertaste. Set the butter aside, refrigerate it.

The craquelin: Stir together all the ingredients listed to form a dough. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough evenly at 1 mm thick, freeze until use.

The second day:

The coffee: Put the frozen coffee cubes in a bowl, and place the bowl in the steamer basket. Strain the chips and place them in a new aluminium foil nest, along with the cocoa beans. Put the smoking mix nest on the bottom of the pan (the same you used for smoking the butter) and bring it on hight fire. Wait for the smoke, cover and let the pan fill up by the smoke. Quickly, place the steaming basket on the top of the pan, cover it and slow the fire to the minimum you can. Smoke the coffee iced cubes until completely melted. It took about 90 minutes for me. I left them stay in the smoke 10 minutes more, after turning the fire off. Remove from the steamer, set aside.

The choux: Put water, butter and salt in a pan on medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from fire and pour the flour all in once. Stir together with a wooden spatula, being careful to not to leave lumps. You obtain a dough called "panade". Put the panade back on the fire, always stirring with a wooden spatula, to dry it. It will be enough dry when it won't stick anymore to the bottom and edges of the pan. Remove from fire and put the panade in a cold metal bowl to let it cool 5 minutes.
Incorporate the eggs one by one, with the wooden spatula. Don't add the following egg until the previous one is well incorporated.
Preheat your oven at 170°C
Now, bring the Craquelin out from the freezer. With a round 3 cm cutter, cut 24 circles.
On a buttered cookie sheet or a silicon pad, form the choux in an éclair shape, adjoining them, trying to not squeeze them too much. They have just to touch each other a bit. Form the choux two by two, or three by three, as you want. Form them about 3 cm diameter. Put on each choux a circle of craquelin and press lightly, just to make it stick.
Bake at 170°C in convection mode, about 20 to 25 minutes. Choux must to be nicely blown up, golden and dry. Remove from oven, let cool.

The buttercream: Mix the sugar with the water, bring to a boil until reach a temperature of 121°C. Put the egg yolks in a stand mixer and gradually, pour the cooked sugar syrup on the yolks, whisking constantly, pouring slowly, like a thread. It's important that the yolks are at room temperature, to avoid a thermic shock. You don't want to cook your eggs. Keep whisking and when the syrup is perfectly incorporated, keep whisking at maximum speed, to cool the mixture. When the mixture is cool enough, incorporate the softened butter, gradually, piece by piece. Keep whisking in order to obtain a cream with a smooth consistence. Then, add your smoked coffee, incorporate well to the cream.

Assembling: Cut your éclairs at the half widthwise, with a saw knife, and separate the two halves. Fill a pastry bag with a plain, 15 mm diameter, round tip, with the buttercream. Pipe the cream on the choux, forming some regular, smooth and harmonious balls on each choux. Cover with the half with the craquelin.
Keep in the refrigerator until serving.

Note: I am sorry to have only one picture to show. I did not mean to partecipate to the challenge with this recipe, so, I didn't make any picture of the making of. If I repeat, I will add them.


  1. I have no more words to tell how much I am admired by your creativity and by your technical skills!

  2. Wow Micol, you are wonderful!!! A work of art, this is what this recipe is.
    I was amazed at your smoking techniques for the butter and the coffee (actually, you have just solved one of my problems with a recipe that is buzzing in my head :-) ), and at your ability to imagine and create those lovely pastries.
    I really believe you deserve to win this one. ;-)

  3. Two recipes (I refer to the one with the smoked pear too)I first would love to eat and then try also, but kinda think I could not make it to these results.
    Two desserts that would perfectly fit in a three-starred restaurant menu. Brava!!!

  4. Micol thank you so much, this is how a terrific dish is made! technical skills, fantastic ingredients and some passion turn a dessert from ordinary to extraordinary! Smoky taste is elevated to the top, let me look for the fly, maybe some freshness would have made it perfect

  5. You are wonderful. It's us we have to just thank you, to still be here !


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