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July 15


Saint of the day:

La Madonna del Ghisallo

Patron Saint of Cyclist

The Story of La Madonna del Ghisallo


Madonna del Ghisallo is a hill in Magreglio, close to Lake Como in Italy. It is named after an alleged Marian apparition.

According to the legend, the Medieval count Ghisallo was travelling by the hamlet of Magréglio when he was attacked by bandits. He saw an image of Virgin Mary at a shrine, ran to it and was saved from the robbers. The apparition became known as La Madonna del Ghisallo, and she became a patroness of local travellers.

In later times, the hill Madonna del Ghisallo was made part of the Giro di Lombardia bicycle race and has often featured in the Giro d'Italia as well. The church sits atop a steep hill that climbs up from the shores of Lake Como. It became a natural stopping point for cyclists.

For this reason a local priest, Father Ermelindo Vigano, proposed that La Madonna del Ghisallo be declared the patroness of cyclists. This was confirmed by Pope Pius XII. Nowadays the shrine of Madonna del Ghisallo contains a small cycling museum with photos and artifacts from the sport. There also burns an eternal flame for cyclists who have died. One particularly notable artifact is the crumpled bicycle that Fabio Casartelli, a native of the region, rode on the day that he died in a crash in the Tour de France.

The church is home to many bikes and cycling jerseys used by cyclists in races. The Fondazione Museo del Ciclismo-Madonna del Ghisallo was created in 2000. Its first action was to organize a torch relay from the chapel to the Vatican, delivering the torch to the then Pope John Paul II. In 2010 a bike museum, the Museo del Ciclismo, opened nearby.

The Colle del Ghisallo is a mountain pass road that connects the upper part of Valassina Larian Triangle. The point of the pass, at an altitude of 754 m above sea level, is located near Magreglio.







Via Campolungo, 2, 22030 Magreglio CO, Italy








Paris Brest Gâteau

Yield 2 Wheels 8 Servings each or 16 Individual Paris-Brest Cakes.

For the history, the Paris Brest cake was created in 1910 by pastry chef Louis Durand,
upon request from the organiser of a bicycle race between Paris and Brest.
The cake has a large ring shape resembling bicycle wheels.
This race began in 1891 and it's the oldest cycling event still being run.

Praliné Recipe / Hazelnut Paste

  • 4 ounces (120g) almonds

  • 2.7 ounces (80g) hazelnuts

  • A pinch of salt

  • 7 ounces (210g) powdered sugar, granulated or pearl sugar


  1. Toast nuts in a hot skillet or in a 375ºF (190ºC) preheated oven for about 10 minutes.

  2. Let cool.

  3. Meanwhile make caramel a sec (dry caramel).

  4. In a hot saucepan add sugar over medium high heat and cook until it turns brown but not dark brown.

  5. Then, add the remaining sugar and cook until melted and brown.

  6. Turn off the heat and fold in the toasted nuts. Transfer the caramelized nuts onto a silicon mat and let cool completely.

  7. Break into pieces (save some to be crushed for stuffing).

  8. While the food processor is running, throw in the caramelized nuts pieces and blend for 5 minutes or until it turns into paste.

  9. Save 8 ounces (250g) for the praliné mousseline and refrigerate praliné leftover for months for later use.

Pâte à Choux Recipe.

Yield 2 Wheels 8 Servings each or 16 Individual Paris-Brest Cakes.

  • 1/2 cup (125ml) water

  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk

  • 8 Tbsp (125g) unsalted butter

  • 1 tsp (5g) salt

  • 2 tsp (10g) granulated sugar

  • 1 cups (150g) all-purpose flour

  • 4 to 5 ea. (200g to 250g) large eggs

  • Powdered sugar for dusting and sliced almonds.


  1. Bring water, milk, butter, sugar and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in flour. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from sides for about a minute. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or whisk if using a Magic Mill Mixer. Mix on low speed for about 1 minute to get the steam out and cool down a bit, then add two-third of the eggs at once and beat on low speed until a soft peak forms when batter is touched with your finger. Add one more egg and the last one if necessary. Follow the same method if mixed by hand using a rubber spatula. However, cool down mixture for 5 minutes before adding eggs otherwise it may cook the eggs rather ending up having dots. A stand mixer cools down mixture much faster though preventing this from happening.

Piping Wheels

  1. On a parchment paper, draw a 6 inch (15cm) circle; flip over parchment so then the ink wont be in direct contact with the batter. Pipe a thin 1/2 inch (1.2cm) thick ring of dough just outside the 6 inch circle that is drawn on the parchment. Pipe another ring outside the first ring making sure the ring of dough are touching. Pipe a final ring of pâte à choux on the top, along the center seam between the first two rings of dough. Dust the dough with powdered sugar and coat with sliced almonds. For the individual Paris-Brest, pipe out 16 ea. 3 inch (8cm) diameter wheels onto 2 large baking sheets (8 cakes per tray) lined with a silicon mat or parchment using a 1/2 inch (1.2cm) open star pastry tip. Unbaked piped pâte à choux can be refrigerated a couple of days or frozen for weeks before being baked; place frozen wheels on a baking tray and bake right away in the preheated oven.


  1. Bake in a preheated 350ºF (180ºC) oven. Bake pâte à choux in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes; bake one sheet at the time. Do not open the oven door during baking or it will deflate. Then, turn oven off leaving the door ajar for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire rack. If using a convection oven, the baking time may be shortened by 5 minute or so.


Praliné Mousseline Cream

  • 1.4 cups (350ml) milk

  • 1/3 cup (60g) granulated sugar

  • 4 ea. (80g) egg yolks (freeze egg whites for later use)

  • 1.2 Tbsp (20g) flour

  • 1.2 Tbsp (20g) corn starch

  • 4 Tbsp (60g) high quality unsalted butter, at room temp

To whip with the chilled custard

  • 8 ounces (240g) praliné paste

  • 10 Tbsp (150g) high quality unsalted butter, at room temp


  1. Bring milk to a simmer. Meanwhile in a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar to blend and add flour and corn starch. Turn off the heat. Whisk hot milk gradually into the yolk mixture. Return custard to the stove, bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes on medium high heat whisking constantly. Turn off the heat and whisk in the first 4 tablespoons (60g) butter. Transfer custard onto a tray lined with plastic wrap, cover with plastic wrap in contact and let cool to room temp then chilled.

  2. Beat chilled custard on high speed for one minute or until smooth. Then, mix in the praliné paste. Add 10 tablespoons (150g) butter and continue beating until creamy and fluffy; about 5 minutes. The praliné mousseline can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Paris-Brest Assembly

  1. Split the pastry shell in half horizontally. Pipe the praliné mousseline into the hollow center of the shell twice; the first layer should fill the bottom shell straight. Then, the second layer should be nicely designed. Hold the piping bag at 45 degrees. Squeeze out filling forming an horizontal 8 shape motion; (only for the large Paris-Brest).

  2. Add some crushed caramelized nuts in between the two mousseline layers or on the top of the last one. Pieces of nougatine leftovers can be used in place of caramelized nuts if preferred. Put hat back on each shell, dust with powdered sugar and serve. Better served right away!. Paris-Brest can be however stored wrapped in the refrigerator a couple of days. Enjoy!

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