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Crouqembouche questions

I plan on making a croquembouche for a Christmas party in a few weeks. I have made cream puffs successfully so I am confident that will be fine. I would like to use a chocolate sauce as the mortar, does anyone have a good recipe that would give me the right consistency? Also I was curious, when guests are eating the croquembouche is there any difficulty removing the individual cream puffs? I'd hate for my guests to rip off half a cream puff and have the pastry cream get messy. Any advice is always appreciated!

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  1. I haven't made one, but I believe (based on the ones I see in bakeries in France) that they're held together with the caramel -- not sure that chocolate sauce will hold a filled choux well.

    1. I've made them a couple of times using Martha Stewart's recipe. I doubt chocolate sauce would work. It would soak into the cream puffs & make them soggy. Caramel is the way to go. And yes - it is messy to serve, but worth it!!

      1. Yes, as other posters say; the caramel that u spin around the crochembouche is used first to assemble the puffs into the 'tree', or tower.
        Pastry creme is relatively heavy, so I cannot imagine using anything with less sticking power to get it stay together; chocolate sauce would cause all kinds of sliding around.

        I would do my spun sugar garnish, and serve warm chocolate sauce on the side!
        I have made 2 of these, and tho some work, it can be broken into parts. Puffs made ahead and frozen, pastry cream made a couple days ahead. Just caramel and assembly on day of serving.

        Doing the spun sugar is challenging - but fun fun fun!

        1. If you really want to do chocolate, tempered dark chocolate should be able to hold it together. But sauce...no.

          1 Reply
          1. re: babette feasts

            I agree--I think a stiff ganache could work as the glue.

            Thanks for starting this thread. I've wanted to make one since I was about 10 years old. Maybe this is the year!

          2. Like everyone else is saying, you need to use spun caramel. Chocolate sauce won't hold them together. You could conceivably serve with chocolate sauce as a dipping sauce but I don't know that that's really necessary.

            I haven't done a croquembouche in a few years but one gimmick that has worked well for me is to make two batches of pasty cream, one vanilla and one chocolate, then divide them into parts and flavor them with different liquors/liqueurs such as rum, Kahlua, amaretto, etc. The rum and amaretto tend to go over especially well and people seem to like the surprise of not knowing which flavor they'll get next.

            1. Ditto, chocolate sauce will be too slide-y and will not provide any adhesive properties. You need something that will solidify at room temp which is why caramelized sugar is the traditional mortar. You might be able to use a fudge sauce--as in, a boiled sugar sauce--because that will set up at room temp. I wouldn't try it with more than three layers though (and a really small circumference), plus it will most likely rip the individual puffs when someone tries to remove one.

              1. Can't reply to the chocolate issue, but wanted to pass on a tip regarding the spun caramel. Get a cheap whisk at the dollar store and cut off the tips. This leaves you with several thin tines that are great for making lots of threads at a time.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Terrie H.

                  Good idea, but what do you use to cut the whisk with? Sounds like a shop project...

                    1. re: Erika L

                      Simple wire cutters or even scissors you don't care a whole lot about -- they are dollar store whisks and don't put up much of a fight.

                  1. re: Terrie H.

                    Yup - that's just what I did. Bought a cheap metal whisk & cut off the ends.