Thursday, June 3, 2010

Croquembouche - The Recipe

Photo by Amanda

Sorry to make you wait, here's the recipe for the Croquembouche with the Daring Bakers. As I mentioned, it didn't quite turn out to be the towering beauty I longed for, but after doing it once, I'll do it again - much sooner.  Amanda and I made this for her birthday (along with a raspberry ice cream cake); everyone seemed to have fun disassembling the pyramid.

Chocolate Pastry Cream

2 cups milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
4 tablespoons butter (2 ounces), cut into several small pieces
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup of the milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

Beat the eggs and yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Slowly pour the milk/sugar mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (you don't want to cook the eggs). Strain.

Return to heat (medium/high flame), and continue whisking until the cream thickens. After the cream comes to a boil (little blips, not an active boil), cook one more minute; keep whisking!

Remove from heat, and stir in the butter, chocolate, and vanilla and melted chocolate. Cool completely in the refrigerator or over an ice bath. The ice bath will cool the cream more quickly.

Choux Pastry (from Nick Malgieri)

3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour (all-purpose is fine, we used bread flour)
4-5 eggs (approximately)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When the mixture starts to boil, remove from heat and stir in flour.

Return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixtures dries slightly and begins to leave the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes to cool; if using a stand mixer, beat for one minute to cool.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time; be sure to wait until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. You might not need the entire fourth egg; you might need another half egg. The dough should be stiff enough to pipe; if you swipe your finger through the dough, it should close up on itself fairly quickly.

Immediately pipe the dough into small mounds (about an inch in diameter) and bake for about 10 minutes or until well-risen. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking until completely dry (another 20-25 minutes most likely). It should be completely firm when you take it out of the oven or it will collapse; usually it needs another 20 minutes in the oven after it starts to look done.
You'll get about 45 puffs if you keep them small.
Caramel Glaze (from Martha Stewart)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 
Prepare an ice-water bath large enough for your pan of caramel to sit inside. 
Bring the sugar, water, and lemon juice to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Use a wet pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pan so that sugar crystals do not form there.  Without stirring, cook until the sugar dissolves, 5-6 minutes.  Raise the heat to high, and cook until the syrup is a medium-deep amber color, continually swirling the pan by lifting it just off the heat. This will take another 5 minutes or so.  When the color is how you want it (you may want to test a small drop on a white plates to get an accurate color reading), remove the caramel from the heat and set the bottom of the pan in the ice bath to stop it from cooking.  If your ice-water bath isn't ready yet, the caramel will burn while you're preparing it.  Use the caramel immediately.


Make the pastry cream, as directed above.

Make the choux pastry, as directed above.

When the puffs and pastry cream are completely cool, fill each of the puffs with the cream.  Take a sharp knife and cut a small hole in the bottom of each puff (put the point of the knife through, then twist to get a circular hole), large enough for the very tip of your pastry cream bag to fit through.  Next, fill your pastry bag (or large ziplock bag) with pastry cream (put a round tip at the bottom, or just cut the tip of the bag off so that the opening is about 1/4" in diameter; fold the edges of the pastry bag down a couple of inches, and fill the bag with cream; fold up the edges of the bag, push the cream down towards the tip, and twist the top so you don't get leakage out the wrong end!).  Fill each puff with cream; you will know to stop when the puff begins to feel heavy, and it feels like more pressure would be required to let any more cream out.  If you push too hard, the cream may burst through small cracks on the top or sides of the puff.

Next, make the caramel glaze, as directed above.

Now you're ready to build your tower.  Amanda and I assembled our tower free-hand. Next time, I'll make a cone and use that as a mold (see here for a much larger and prettier croquembouche).  Dip the bottom of each puff in the caramel, and set on parchment paper (caramel side up).  Reheat the caramel if it begins to get too thick.  I've seen many pictures of these with a heavy dose of caramel on each puff (like ours), but I think I prefer the look of the thinner glaze.

Make the spun sugar, if desired.  I think I'll hold off on posting the directions here until I do it again with more success.

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1 comment:

  1. Awesome!!! I love it, it looks delicious and so creative!! I can't wait to try this recipe<3