This is a recipe I got years ago from a McCall's Cooking School. Pretty easy but looks very elegant. Tastes good, too!
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place a sheet of brown paper on a baking sheet and draw an 8-inch circle for you guide later; set aside.
In a medium saucepan combine the 1 cup of water, butter, and salt; bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat. With a wooden spoon or sturdy silicone spatula, beat in the flour all at once. Over low heat, beat until the mixture forms a ball and leaves pan. Remove from heat.
Add the whole eggs to the dough, one at a time. Using a portable mixer or the wooden spoon, beat hard after each addition. Beat until the mixture is shiny and breaks into strands.
Spoon the dough into a pastry bag that has been fitted with a large (#8) star tip. Pipe over the circle you made on the paper, making the ring 1-inch in diameter, pressing down hard on the bag. Pipe a circle inside the 8-inch circle, touching the original circle. Pipe a third circle on top. Press out any remaining dough on top of the third circle.
Bake ring for 50 minutes at 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, using a fork, beat the egg yolk with the 1 tablespoon of water. Remove ring from oven and brush the egg mixture lightly over the top only of the ring. Sprinkle with the almonds. Return to the oven and bake another 5 minutes or until deep golden brown.
Place pan on a wire rack to cool.
Whipped Cream Filling:
2 cups chilled heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
In a medium bowl combine the cream, powdered sugar, and extracts. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and place in a bowl of ice water. With electric mixer at high speed, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.
Using a sharp knife, split the ring in half crosswise. Scoop out any soft dough. Place the bottom half on a serving plate. Put filling to a pastry bag with the #8 star tip and pipe over the bottom half. Set the top half in place over the filling and sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.
Be sure to take a picture of this fancy French dessert you just created!