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Croquembouche help

c
CarNut Mar 23, 2011 02:17 PM

I'm attempting to make a croquembouche this weekend for the first time. Does anyone have a detailed but relatively simple recipe that they like? I've searched online and come up with a few different recipes but would love some recommendations.

Also, any tips/tricks if you've made one before?

Thanks!

  1. todao Mar 23, 2011 02:35 PM

    If it's for a celebration, modeling it on a format that reflects the purpose for the celebration certainly adds to the festivities. From my own experience I'd suggest you consider preparing it as close to the intended time of use as possible, allowing time for the puffs to cool so they don't sweat as you're building you Croquembouche, and to prevent the potential problem when a pastry creme or custard tends to contribute a soggy texture to the mass.

    1. paulj Mar 23, 2011 02:39 PM

      Have you made cream puffs before?

      2 Replies
      1. re: paulj
        c
        CarNut Mar 23, 2011 03:55 PM

        No - never made cream puffs before.

        1. re: CarNut
          paulj Mar 23, 2011 04:45 PM

          Croquembouche is basically a fancy presentation of cream puffs. So it would be a good idea to make test batch of puffs. The process for making the dough is quite different from any other baking, but not difficult. But you should get some practice with that. Then there's the matter piping the dough into the balls (or other shapes). It can be spooned but piping is more common. Then there's the filling. Have you made pastry cream?

          Then there's the final step, the spun sugar! :) You can pass on that the first time around.

      2. m
        magiesmom Mar 23, 2011 06:33 PM

        I generally ignore Martha stewart but this is a good video.
        you need to practice all the pieces individually, imo. I have used caramel,not spun sugar.
        http://recipes.holidays.net/view_reci...

        3 Replies
        1. re: magiesmom
          Euonymous Mar 24, 2011 11:22 AM

          This link is to a recipe for making albondigas (mexican meatballs). I think the link you meant to include is this one:

          http://www.marthastewart.com/284372/m...

          Have fun!

          1. re: Euonymous
            m
            magiesmom Mar 24, 2011 05:41 PM

            oy! thanks.

          2. re: magiesmom
            b
            Breezychow Apr 24, 2011 04:40 PM

            I 2nd one of Martha's recipes. I made it years ago from her old "Martha Stewart's Christmas", which was published long before she became a diva. It was one of her first books, & unfortunately I don't think it's in print anymore. Around 75 tiny cream puffs filled with chocolate-rum cream, stuck together with homemade caramel in a pyramid, & covered with golden spun sugar. It made for a glorious Xmas centerpiece, & was delicious to boot.

            I will say that it is a very labor-intensive creation & really must be made as close to presentation time as possible, since once those cream puffs are filled, you really can't refrigerate them because they'll get soggy. It easily took me a solid half day+ to make from start to finish.

          3. JungMann Mar 24, 2011 07:26 AM

            Ruhlman gives easy to follow guidance on making the pate a choux: http://ruhlman.com/2009/06/pate-a-cho... When you pipe your pastry, remember to use a wet finger to pat down the peaks formed by drawing away the piping bag before baking. I advocate making smaller puffs as they make for a better looking croquembouche.

            To assemble the croquembouche, I make a form by creating a cone from posterboard and lining it with greased foil. Then, and only then, I proceed to make my caramel. As soon as it gets golden, take it off the heat. It will turn to amber relatively quickly. It is important to work efficiently, dipping your puffs in the caramel and putting them into the cone as the caramel will harden as it cools. I usually try to also spin some of the sugar to create threads to decorate the exterior of the croquembouche. It's also a good idea to occasionally pour some caramel inside your cone to bind the puffs to one another.

            5 Replies
            1. re: JungMann
              f
              flzhang Apr 24, 2011 01:02 PM

              Just out of curiosity, it sounds like you're doing this with an inverted cone--does the caramel not cause the puffs to stick to the cone?

              I've seen lots of different techniques for making croquembouche--cones, toothpicks, etc. What's the best way?

              1. re: flzhang
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                Nyleve Apr 24, 2011 02:36 PM

                I made one of these for my friend's daughter's wedding last summer. Here's what worked best (did 3 test-croques - with more or less success - prior to the event).

                First, I made a large cone shape out of one of those crazy-carpet sled toys that we had hanging around the garage. If you've never seen one, it's a rectangular mat made out of a flexible but smooth heavy plastic, used to slide down snowy hills. Cut the largest half-circle I could out of the plastic thing, then curled it into a cone shape and taped together using duct tape. Then I lined the inside with heavy foil and sprayed the foil with Pam. So much for the mold.

                Next step was a cheat, but a pretty darn good one. I bought several containers of Costco's mini-cream puffs (which come frozen). Yes, I've made cream puffs before but frankly the logistics of preparing, filling and assembling a batch of home-made cream puffs in the summer heat were daunting. I cheated. The mini puffs are actually pretty good and are filled with real cream so I didn't feel bad.

                Now the assembly. Melted sugar to the golden stage. I propped the cone, point-down, into a bucket so that it would stand upright while I filled it with puffs. Dipped each puff into the caramel and place it inside the cone. Slowly filled the cone to the top with puffs, which stuck nicely together. Building the croque inside the cone, instead of outside, gives it stability and allows you to create something that won't collapse on itself, no matter how humid. Once the cone was filled and the caramel was hardened, I upended it, lifted the plastic cone off the foil, then peeled the foil off the outside of the croque. It worked like a charm. I didn't go through with the spun sugar, however, because it was humid out and I didn't think it would last the few hours before dessert. I did drape strands of golden caramel around the thing, though, and then decorated the whole business with fresh flowers and leaves. It was beautiful but - nobody took a picture of it (to my knowledge) and I was too exhausted to even think of doing so.

                Good luck making your croquembouche. It's certainly a show-stopper, and once you get some of the hardware figured out, not really all that difficult.

                1. re: Nyleve
                  Hank Hanover Apr 24, 2011 04:26 PM

                  I've seen pictures croquembouches on top of a cake. Well not really on top of the cake. I think they were on some kind of plate supported by pillars through the cake.

                  Is that done mostly for weddings? Would be even more work.

                2. re: flzhang
                  b
                  Breezychow Apr 24, 2011 04:43 PM

                  I didn't use any sort of "cone" - just stuck all the cream puffs together in a pyramid. You really don't need any sort of support or form or toothpicks to make a pyramid. The caramel holds everything together very nicely on its own. In fact, putting the pyramid together was the easiest part of the whole thing.

                  1. re: flzhang
                    JungMann Apr 25, 2011 08:17 AM

                    If you line the cone with greased foil, the caramel will not stick to the paper. I can't say if this is the "best" method, but it's the method that works for me.

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