Daring Bakers May Challenge: Croquembouche

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.

This month's challenge recipe is for a Piece Montée, which means literally "mounted piece." You may know this dessert by another name - Croquembouche ("crunch in the mouth"). The piece montée is the traditional wedding cake in France (how suitable - I have been to two weddings this month). The classic piece montée is a high pyramid/cone made of profiteroles (cream-filled puff pastries) sometimes dipped in chocolate, bound with caramel, and usually decorated with threads of caramel, sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons.

As I first saw the challenge I though "Oh no, they did it again. Something I would never ever think of to make myself because it looks so difficult!" A Croquembouche was the first thing I saw when I opened my first (and only) dessert cookbook - and which was the reason I bought it at all (because I loved that picture). I showed it to everybody who showed the slightest interest in that book, always saying "Isn't that beautiful?" Now I have to do it myself, so here we go again ;) Thanks for the challenge Cat, despite for the first batch of profiteroles which turned out to be little ufos (and my kitchen being a mess afterwards), it was a pleasure (but thats how we learn, right?).

Chocolate Coffee Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
  • 1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk + 50 ml
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 11/2 Tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 80 g chocolate, finely chopped
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. Heat the milk into a bowl (or pan) and add the chocolate and the instant espresso powder. Continue whisking the cream (this is important - you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until it thickens and comes to a boil. Stir until completely dissolved. Remove the cream from heat and beat in the butter, vanilla and the chocolate-espresso-mix.

Dulce de leche Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)

  • 1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 50g sugar
  • 100g Dulce de leche
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
Instructions as above, add the dulce the leche together with the butter and the vanilla.

Pate a Choux (profiteroles)
yields about 28
  • ¾ cup (175 ml.) water
  • 6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
  • ¼ Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup (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. 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 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs. It'll be done when a wooden spoon stands upright on it's own into the batter (my first try was to fluid ...). If not, you added the eggs too fast. Stir until it thickens.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. 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.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:

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.You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place).When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

Note: As I wanted to take the Croquembouche to a birthday party with me which was two days later (or better will be in two days at the 29th) the only chance to store it without falling apart was the freezer. So I wrapped it in cling film and hope it will survive - if not, there is still enough filling left to have another one.

Keine Kommentare: