Croquembouche

My best friend and her sister held a high tea fundraiser last month to raise awareness for the Hunger Project (please do go and read up on this great cause if you have some time). I volunteered to help out with the baking as my contribution to the cause. I’ve always wanted to try my hands at baking either a croquembouche tower or a macaron tower and this was the perfect opportunity to test one of this more complex recipes out.

There are many recipes over the internet so I read up on at least 20 before deciding to give the BBC Good Food one a go. I didn’t like the sound of a limoncello creme so I replaced the creme with a plain vanilla one from Taste.com.

The choux pastry took longer than I estimated but it turned out really well! It rose perfectly and was not dry at all. The creme also turned out well. This step you could prepare in advance (2-3 days) and refrigerate until the day of serving. The toffee I struggled with at first. Beware! It burns really quickly so once it starts to darken in colour please please please take it off the stove! It will continue to darken in the pot.

I didn’t have a croquembouche cone so I free-handed the build. It looked ok! Not as straight as it would have been with a cone but heyyy give me a break this is my first trial :p
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Croquembouche
Yields 80
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Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Choux pastry
  1. 185g plain flour (sifted)
  2. 175g unsalted butter (diced)
  3. 6 large eggs (beaten)
Creme patissiere
  1. 435ml (1 3/4 cups) milk
  2. 1 tbls vanilla bean paste
  3. 3 egg yolks
  4. 70g caster sugar
  5. 50g plain flour (sifted)
Toffee
  1. 860g caster sugar
  2. 330ml water
For the choux pastry
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan-forced).
  2. Lightly butter 3 large baking sheets.
  3. Sift the flour onto a large square of greaseproof paper.
  4. Put the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan with 450ml water and gently heat until the butter has melted.
  5. Bring to the boil then immediately tip in the flour, all in one go.
  6. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball that comes away from the sides of the pan. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
  7. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition, until the mixture is glossy and only just holding its shape. You may not need to add all the beaten egg.
  8. Spoon and pack half the mixture into a large piping bag.
  9. Twist the opening to secure and snip off a 1cm tip from the corner (or use 1cm plain nozzle).
  10. Pipe small rounds, about 2cm in diameter, on to the baking sheets, trimming the paste from the bag with a knife. Leave room between them to allow for spreading.
  11. You should end up with about 80-90 rounds.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes, in batches if necessary depending on how many baking sheets you have, until well risen and golden, rotating the baking sheets half way through cooking.
  13. As soon as the pastry is cooked, make a 1cm slit on the side of each bun to let the steam escape. (This stops them turning soggy as they cool).
  14. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to dry them out, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container (or freeze).
For the creme patissiere
  1. Warm milk and the vanilla seeds in a saucepan. Whisk yolks and sugar in a bowl until thick.
  2. Whisk in flour, then milk mixture.
  3. Return to pan and cook, whisking, over low heat for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens.
  4. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to chill.
  5. Spoon creme patissiere in a piping bag fitted with a large nozzle.
  6. Push nozzle into the base of each profiterole and fill with creme patissiere.
For the toffee
  1. Place sheets of non-stick baking paper on a clean work surface. Stir 645g of the sugar and 250ml of the water in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Cook, without stirring, brushing down the side of the pan occasionally with a wet pastry brush, for 25 minutes or until light golden.
  3. Place the saucepan in a roasting pan on a heatproof surface. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the side of the saucepan.
  4. Insert a fork into the base of 1 profiterole and dip the top in the toffee. Place the profiterole, toffee-side up, on the baking paper. Repeat with the remaining profiteroles and toffee.
  5. Stir the remaining sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Cook, without stirring, brushing down the side of the pan occasionally with a wet pastry brush, for 8-10 minutes or until light golden. Place saucepan in a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up the side of saucepan.
  6. Use tongs to pick up 1 profiterole and dip the base in the toffee. Place on a round serving platter. Repeat with another 11 profiteroles and toffee, arranging side-by-side in a circle on the platter.
  7. Repeat with the remaining profiteroles and toffee, arranging them on top of each other to create layers, finishing with 1 profiterole on top.
  8. Dip 2 forks into the remaining toffee. Press the backs of the forks together and hold for 30 seconds. Quickly pull forks apart to make thin strands. Wrap the strands around the croquembouche and decorate while sugar is still wet.
Notes
  1. You can prepare the unfilled shells 3 days ahead. If the pastries are a bit soft when you take them out of the container, lay them in a single layer on baking sheets and re-crisp in a moderate oven for 5 minutes. Cool completely before filling.
  2. You can also freeze the uncooked choux pastry up to 1 month before baking.
  3. Decorate with silver cachous or flowers.
Adapted from BBC Good Food and Taste.com
Adapted from BBC Good Food and Taste.com
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