Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Croquembouche

Starting out again, the May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

I tried. At the very least, it tasted delicious. Although my original plans to make an arch rather than a tower fell through as My sugar support beams wouldn't do their job. Oh well. It still tasted delicious, even if it was a little on the small side, tower-wise, as I had made an Arch sized batch. Both caramel and vanilla flavoured creme patissiere fillings were used.

The Recipes:

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere
2 cups whole milk
4 Tbsp. cornflour
200 g. sugar
2 large egg
4 large egg yolks
60 g. unsalted butter
2 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking. Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla. Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

To make caramel creme, I added A shot of monin caramel syrup to the vanilla mix.

Pate a Choux (I got 21 from this recipe)
175 ml. water
85 g. unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
125 g. all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add eggs one at a time, stirring each in completely before adding the next.

Pipe the choux in 1 inch size mounds onto a baking paper lined tray. flatten tops with finger to make them round. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately. (I didn't, because I like darker, burntish caramel. It does get very hard though)


  1. Very nicely done! Love it!

  2. I agree - looks great. Love the spun sugar.

  3. I like a darker caramel too}:P Love the sugar work, even if it didn't turn out like you wanted.