This gorgeous gluten free Paris-Brest is guaranteed to impress – while also being really easy to make! The gluten free chocolate choux pastry puffs up beautifully in the oven to give an airy, hollow interior and the chocolate crème mousseline is a total revelation: fluffy, incredibly creamy, rich and intensely chocolatey. If you’re a chocolate lover, you simply need to try this double chocolate Paris-Brest!
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Let me start by saying that yes, I know that choux pastry can seem scary. Especially gluten free choux pastry. But I’m here to tell you that making gluten free choux pastry is actually REALLY EASY and totally achievable even if you’re not a super experienced baker. Promise.
The whole process might sound very fancy and elaborate – making pâte à choux, piping it into the traditional Paris-Brest form and whipping up a batch of crème mousseline that you’ll then pipe prettily into the pastry – but honestly, this is one of the easiest choux pastry desserts I’ve ever made, while also looking ridiculously impressive.
If we break it down, pâte à choux or choux pastry is a total breeze to make, especially with the help of a stand or a hand mixer. I’ve optimised the process to pretty much guarantee that the gluten free pastry achieves the perfect rise and a beautiful airy, hollow interior.
To make Paris-Brest, you just need to pipe the choux batter into rings and then scatter some flaked almonds on top. Easy.
And crème mousseline is just a fancy-sounding name for pastry cream that you whip with some softened butter until light and airy and dangerously delicious. And we’ve already mastered homemade pastry cream, remember? So this just takes it another step further – which, again, is a total piece of cake with a stand or a hand mixer.
The final step is piping the filling into the pastry. You do need a bit of practice for this step but (a) you can totally scrape it off and start again if it doesn’t look as pretty as you’d like – I’ve done that many, many times and (b) if you don’t feel confident enough in your piping skills to achieve the characteristic swirled piping of a Paris-Brest, just use an open star nozzle to pipe small dollops along the ring. It will still look gorgeous, but it requires less piping skills.
See? Nothing scary here!
(Okay, pep talk over.)
This gluten free Paris-Brest is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted!!
There are SO MANY things to love about this Paris-Brest:
- The light, crisp, airy chocolate choux pastry. Adding a few tablespoons of Dutch processed cocoa powder into the “classic” gluten free choux pastry makes it even more flavourful – so much so that it’s already delicious all on its own!
- The total revelation that is the chocolate crème mousseline. Oh my goodness, I could write poems about the deliciousness that is this light, airy, fluffy, velvety-smooth, creamy, rich, decadent and ultra-chocolatey filling. Yes, it’s all of those things. I adore it, and once you have a try, you’ll want to make it over and over and over again. It also pipes like a dream and holds its shape beautifully.
- The crunchy toasted almonds. The almonds might be a small addition but in my opinion they take the whole dessert to the next level – they make it more interesting both flavour- and texture-wise, and they also look gorgeous sitting on top of the chocolate-brown pastry, all lovely and golden.
And while all of these elements are wonderful on their own, when you put them together, you get a dessert with the perfect flavour, the perfect texture and that also looks INCREDIBLE.
Plus, it’s double chocolate – and you really can’t go wrong with that.
What is Paris-Brest?
Paris-Brest is a classic French dessert made from a ring of choux pastry that’s generously sprinkled with almonds before baking. Once baked, it’s cut in half horizontally and typically filled with a hazelnut praline flavoured cream (praline crème mousseline).
The round pastry was originally created in 1910 by pastry chef Louis Durand to commemorate the Paris-Brest bicycle race (hence the name). Its round shape is supposed to represent a bicycle wheel.
In addition to the traditional hazelnut praline flavoured dessert, other variations of Paris-Brest exist, such as pistachio, chocolate, raspberry and more.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this amazing gluten free Paris-Brest – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
Gluten free choux pastry
The gluten free choux pastry (pâte à choux) used in this double chocolate Paris-Brest is based on the recipe from my cookbook, Baked to Perfection. It’s super easy to make and I’ve optimised the whole process to ensure that the pastry achieves the perfect rise and a beautiful airy, hollow interior.
For this chocolate choux pastry, I’ve added some Dutch processed cocoa powder to the choux batter, which gives it a wonderful, deep flavour without in any way negatively affecting the texture of the final, baked pastry.
In fact, just look at its beautiful hollow interior!!
How to make THE PERFECT gluten free Paris-Brest
To make the Paris-Brest, you need to pipe the gluten free chocolate choux batter in a ring. I’m the absolute worst when it comes to piping regular shapes of a similar size, so I always use guides.
For this, I dipped a 3¼ inch (about 8cm) round cookie cutter in some cocoa powder and lightly tapped it on the parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. This leaves a round trace of cocoa powder, which is an enormous help if you want all your choux pastries to be perfectly round and of the same size.
Make sure to space out the guides so that there’s at least 1½ inches (4cm) of space around them, to account for the choux pastry puffing up during baking.
Note that I decided to make eight smaller (about 4 inches/10cm in diameter after baking) Paris-Brest pastries, but you could also make a single large one! If you want to make just one large Paris-Brest, you’ll need to pipe two rings of choux batter right next to each other so that they’re touching at all points. Then, pipe another ring of choux batter on top, so that it sits in the groove created by the two bottom rings. This gives the final baked Paris-Brest the optimal shape.
Once you’ve made your guides, transfer the chocolate choux batter into a piping bag fitted with a ½ inch (1.25cm) French star piping tip, and pipe a ring of choux batter on top of each guide. For these smaller Paris-Brest pastries, you need to pipe just a single ring per pastry. If you don’t have a French star piping tip, you can use an open star piping tip instead.
Dust the choux pastry with powdered sugar and sprinkle it generously with flaked almonds. Then, place it into an oven pre-heated to 445ºF (230ºC), close the oven door and immediately reduce the temperature to 340ºF (170ºC). The initial burst of heat will kick-start the puffing action of the choux pastry, ensuring the perfect rise.
You’ll need to bake the choux pastry for a total of 35-40 minutes, opening the oven door slightly after 20 minutes to release any steam – this will ensure that your choux pastry will come out of the oven perfectly crisp. The baking time is also timed so that the flaked almonds on top are nicely toasted without being burnt.
The fluffy, decadent chocolate crème mousseline filling
Crème mousseline is hands down one of my all-time favourite dessert fillings. It’s velvety-smooth, creamy and fluffy, without being overwhelmingly sweet.
It’s made from pastry cream (crème pâtissière) that’s whisked together with softened unsalted butter until light, airy and deliciously fluffy. If you’ve never tried it, I really can’t recommend it enough – it’s a total revelation and a wonderful alternative to the more “familiar” cream fillings like buttercream or whipped cream.
Unlike pastry cream, which tends to be fairy soft and doesn’t hold its shape particularly well when piped, crème mousseline is perfect for piping. It also has this gorgeous glossy finish which makes even a very simple dessert look incredibly elegant.
For this double chocolate Paris-Brest, I made a luscious chocolatey version of crème mousseline.
First, you need to make a chocolate pastry cream, which is basically just my standard vanilla pastry cream with chopped dark chocolate added while the cream is still hot. The heat of the pastry cream will melt the chocolate, so you just need to mix it all together until combined and smooth. I also like to add a pinch of salt at this point, to really bring out the wonderful chocolate flavour.
Once the pastry cream is completely cooled to room temperature, you need to whisk it up with some softened unsalted butter until light, airy and fluffy. I recommend using either a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters.
Now, I’m sure that French patisserie connoisseurs and purists will shudder in horror at this next part: but at this stage, you can tweak the flavour and sweetness of the crème mousseline by adding some Dutch processed cocoa powder and powdered sugar. I know it’s not typically done, but this is honestly the easiest way to ensure that the chocolatey filling has just the right amount of intense chocolate flavour and sweetness for your personal taste.
Plus, adding the cocoa powder and powdered sugar doesn’t in any way negatively affect the texture or appearance of the filling. So, just add them bit by bit, whisking well after each addition, until you’ve reached the optimal flavour and texture. I’ve listed my recommended quantities in the recipe below, but feel free to tweak them slightly if desired.
Then, once your choux pastry is baked to perfection (pun 1000% intended) and your chocolate filling is whipped until wonderfully fluffy, it’s time to assemble the Paris-Brest! This honestly couldn’t be easier, and it’s also incredibly fun.
First, cut the baked and cooled choux ring horizontally in half with a sharp serrated knife. Then, transfer the chocolate crème mousseline into a piping bag fitted with an open star or French star piping tip (I used a ½ inch/1.25cm open star tip) and pipe it on the bottom half of the choux ring, so that it makes an about 1-inch (2.5cm) thick layer.
If your filling becomes too soft to easily pipe at any stage (that can happen if you’re working in a very warm kitchen), just pop it into the fridge to chill for 10-20 minutes until it firms up a bit. Then, give it a thorough whisk and continue piping.
Here’s a short video to show you how I piped the filling into the Paris-Brest:
Place the top part of the choux pastry on top of the filling and dust with powdered sugar – that’s it! The Paris-Brest is assembled and just waiting for you to take that first bite.
I really hope you’ll love this one. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s definitely a great dessert for the occasion… though, honestly, it’s perfect for any day of the year because it’s just so ridiculously good.
More amazing gluten free recipes
If you’re looking for more amazing gluten free recipes (that are nearly indistinguishable from their “regular” equivalents made from wheat flour), here are some of the most popular ones:
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Bread (Artisan Style Loaf)
- Proper Yeasted, Fried Gluten Free Jelly Doughnuts
- Homemade Gluten Free Filo Pastry (Phyllo Dough)
- Easy 5-Ingredient Gluten Free Flour Tortillas
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Extra Flaky All-Butter Gluten Free Pie Crust
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
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Gluten Free Double Chocolate Paris-Brest (Choux Pastry with Chocolate Cream Filling)
Chocolate crème mousseline:
- 360 g (1½ cups) whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (You can also use vanilla pods. If using vanilla extract, use 2 tsp.)
- 4 US large/UK medium egg yolks, room temperature
- 100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 40 g (⅓ cup) cornstarch (US)/cornflour (UK)
- 100 g (3½ ounces) dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 40 g (⅓ stick) unsalted butter, cubed
- 200 g (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 35 g (⅓ cup) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 60 g (½ cup) powdered/icing sugar, plus extra for dusting the assembled Paris-Brest
Gluten free chocolate choux pastry:
- 100 g (⅓ cup + 1½ tbsp) water
- 100 g (⅓ cup + 1½ tbsp) whole milk
- 90 g (¾ stick + ½ tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed
- 10 g (1 tbsp) granulated sugar
- 100 g (¾ cup + 1½ tbsp) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour that doesn't have any xanthan gum added. You can also mix your own gluten free flour blend using this recipe. Note that for this homemade blend, 1 cup = 150g, so ideally use a digital food scale for best results.)
- 20 g (3½ tbsp) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 2 tsp xanthan gum (If your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum, reduce the amount to 1¾ teaspoons.)
- 4 US large/UK medium eggs, room temperature (Note that you might need up to ½ egg more, see recipe instructions for more details.)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1-2 tbsp powdered/icing sugar, for dusting
- 45 g (½ cup) flaked almonds, for sprinkling
Chocolate crème mousseline - Part I - chocolate pastry cream:
- In a saucepan, cook the milk and vanilla over medium heat until the mixture only just comes to a boil.
- While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until pale, slightly fluffy and smooth.Tip: This step is called ‘blanching’ – the sugar protects the egg proteins, preventing lump formation and curdling during cooking.
- Add the cornstarch to the egg mixture and whisk well until combined and no clumps remain.
- Pour the hot milk in a slow, thin stream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.Tip: It’s important that you add the hot milk slowly – this is called ‘tempering’ and it prevents the egg yolks from scrambling. If you added the boiling hot milk to the egg mixture all at once, the eggs would cook and curdle. This way, you’re slowly increasing the temperature of the egg yolks while also diluting them. This helps to achieve a perfectly silky-smooth pastry cream.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, with constant whisking, until thickened and it comes to a boil. This will take about 2-3 minutes. Once the mixture comes to a boil, cook for about 1 minute more.Tip: This one extra minute of cooking time is important, as cornstarch will reach its full thickening power only if the mixture reaches the boiling point and stays there for about one minute.
- Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and 40g of cubed butter, mixing well until both are completely melted and incorporated. The cream should be smooth and glossy.
- Transfer the finished pastry cream into a heat-proof bowl. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap (cling film), and make sure that the plastic wrap is in direct contact with the surface of the pastry cream – this will help to prevent skin formation. Allow to cool completely to room temperature.Tip: If you don’t want to use the plastic wrap method to prevent skin formation, you can just stir or whisk the pastry cream regularly, every few minutes, until cooled to room temperature.
Gluten free chocolate choux pastry:
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 445ºF (230ºC) and line two large baking sheets with parchment/baking paper.Tip: You will bake the choux pastry in two batches, so you can line 2 baking sheets if you have them on hand. Otherwise, just re-use the same baking sheet, but make sure to cool it completely before you pipe the next batch of choux batter onto it.
- Dip a 3¼ inch (about 8cm) round cookie cutter in some cocoa powder and lightly tap it on the lined baking sheet. This will leave a round trace of cocoa powder, which will act as a piping guide to help you ensure that all your choux pastries are perfectly round and of the same size.Make sure to space out the guides so that there’s at least 1½ inches (4cm) of space around them, to account for the choux pastry puffing up during baking.I fit about 4 choux pastry rings per baking sheet, this recipe makes 8 Paris-Brest pastries in total.
- In a saucepan, bring a mixture of water, milk, butter and sugar to a boil, making sure that the butter is completely melted and the salt completely dissolved.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer with the double beaters), whisk together the gluten free flour blend, cocoa powder and xanthan gum.
- With continuous whisking, slowly add the hot water-milk mixture to the dry ingredients until you get the consistency of a thick paste. Beat the mixture until it’s completely smooth with no flour clumps. Tip: This method of adding hot liquid to the flour ensures a silky-smooth choux batter. Following the standard method used in making "regular" wheat-based choux pastry (where all the flour is added at once to the boiling hot water-milk mixture) can often result in flour clumps forming because of the higher water absorption capacity of the gluten free flours. Any such irregularities in the batter can cause an uncontrolled rise of the choux pastry, resulting in cracks and irregular shapes.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and starts forming a ball.
- Transfer the dough back to the bowl. Mix it for 30-60 seconds, allowing it to cool down slightly, so it doesn’t scramble the eggs.
- Whisk the eggs with the salt, and add them to the dough in five to six batches. After each addition, beat the mixture until the eggs are fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.Tip: Mixing the salt in with the eggs improves the structure of the choux pastry, ensuring that it bakes up airy and filled with large holes. It also makes it less prone to collapsing and deflating. So, don’t add the salt to your water-milk mixture or to the dry ingredients: mix it in with the eggs.
- To get the correct batter consistency, you might not need all the egg or you might need to add an extra ½ egg (whisk it before you halve it), so test the batter frequently. The final batter should be smooth and glossy, of a thick but pipeable consistency. To test if the batter is ready, use a spatula to stir the batter, then slowly lift the spatula straight up. The batter should form a V-shape at the end of the spatula.Tip: The exact amount of eggs required depends on how much liquid has evaporated during the cooking step, the exact gluten free flour blend used, as well as many other factors.
- Dust the choux rings with powdered sugar and sprinkle generously with flaked almonds.
- Place the baking sheet into the oven pre-heated to 445ºF (230ºC), close the oven door and immediately reduce the temperature to 340ºF (170ºC). Tip: The initial burst of heat will kick-start the puffing action of the choux pastry, ensuring the perfect rise.
- Bake the choux pastry for a total of 35-40 minutes, opening the oven door slightly after 20 minutes to release any steam – this will ensure that your choux pastry will come out of the oven perfectly crisp. The choux pastry is done when it feels crisp to the touch and feels very light/hollow when you lift it carefully with a spatula.
- Remove the choux pastry rings from the oven, make three to four small holes around the edge of each one with a toothpick (to release the steam) and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat the process with the rest of the choux batter (note that you need to heat your oven again to 445ºF/230ºC before you can bake the next batch of choux pastry).
Side note - making one large Paris-Brest:
- If you want to make just one large Paris-Brest, you’ll need to pipe two rings of choux batter right next to each other so that they’re touching at all points. Then, pipe another ring of choux batter on top, so that it sits in the groove created by the two bottom rings. This gives the final baked Paris-Brest the optimal shape.
- Then, follow the baking instructions in the recipe, the larger Paris-Brest might need a few minutes longer in the oven.
Chocolate crème mousseline - Part II:
- Add the cooled room temperature chocolate pastry cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or to a large bowl if using a hand mixer with the double beaters). Whisk it until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
- With the mixer running on medium-high speed, slowly add the softened butter, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl occasionally, to ensure that all the butter incorporates evenly.
- After you've added all the butter, whisk the mixture for a further 4-5 minutes on high speed until visibly airy and fluffy.
- At this point, you can taste test the crème mousseline. Add the cocoa powder and powdered sugar slowly, until you reach the desired flavour and sweetness. Make sure to give the mixture a thorough whisk after each addition. I added the full amounts listed in the ingredients list above, but you can tweak the amounts to your own personal taste.
- If the crème mousseline is too soft for piping at this stage, you can chill it in the fridge for 10-20 minutes until it firms up slightly. Then, whisk it again for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.
Assembling the Paris-Brest:
- Cut the baked and cooled choux ring horizontally in half with a sharp serrated knife.
- Transfer the chocolate crème mousseline into a piping bag fitted with an open star or French star piping tip (I used a ½ inch/1.25cm French star tip) and pipe it on the bottom half of the choux ring, so that it makes an about 1-inch (2.5cm) thick layer.Tip: Check out the blog post for a short video showing you how I piped the filling into the Paris-Brest.
- Place the top part of the choux pastry on top of the filling and repeat the process with the rest of the pastries.
- Dust evenly with powdered sugar and serve.
- The Paris-Brest is best served on the day of baking and within a few hours of being filled. With time, the pastry will lose some of its crisp texture and it will become softer.
- If you have any leftovers, you can store them in the fridge in an air-tight container for 2-3 days, but the pastry will become noticeably softer.