Ria's Collection: CROQUEMBOUCHE...mounted pillows of absolute delight!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

CROQUEMBOUCHE...mounted pillows of absolute delight!

If I am asked to describe a Croquembouche I would say they are mounted pillows of absolute delight! They are served during weddings,baptisms etc. I never knew it would be so easy and simple to create this tower of joy! When the challenge was announced, I felt kind of lazy thinking of all the steps involved. But , after taking a 6 month break from DB, I was sure I am not going to let that repeat, not in the near future, hopefully atleast.
I made this during a weekend so that I could finish my DB challenge as well as take it over to our friend's place as a dessert.

The recipe consisted of 3 parts: Pate a Choux , Creme Patissiere and a Glaze. We had to make all the 3 components, but the mounting could be done with the help of a store-bought cardboard tower or make one at home OR use the glaze as glue and build the tower (I did this).

I loved piercing and filling the choux because when you do so, you can feel the feather-light choux becoming full and heavy in your hands.

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.


Pate a Choux

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 ( I used only 3 as I felt the batter was loose enough)
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.

Preparing batter:
  • 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.
  • 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. 

Pastry Cream- Coffee flavoured

1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 Tsp Instant espresso powder
1 1/2 Tsp boiling water

  • 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.
  • Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
  • Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 ½ teaspoons boiling water. Whisk into pastry cream with butter and vanilla.
  • Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Chocolate Glaze

8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)

  • Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. 
  • Use immediately.
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.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
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.

My Experience: I made the choux during lunch time and when Jobin came home for lunch, he saw them and was quite inquisitive. It intruiged him too much that he popped one right away, and I was left with my mouth wide open. I knew he liked it by his looks and I was very worried about the whole thing vanishing in no time. So I deftly put them all away in a bag and waited till he left to do the mounting.

The pastry cream was delicious and I loved the croquembouche to the last bite.


Unknown said...

the tower of delight looks amazing..beautiful pictures..

Nithya said...

Fantastic clicks. they look just too amazing :)

Shabs.. said...

Amazing p ics ria....And it is very similar to profiteroles.....choux, the filling is normally left plain i guess....I love these stuff...but that long name is new to me...i just know a similar looking dessert called proofiteroles and it tatses yummy o yummy!....I just wishes if u could show how the inside looked like:)

M D said...

Wow this looks amazing. Nice dessert and the write up too. I love that first pic Ria, where your husband and you pose in that frame. It's beautiful!.

Unknown said...

Looks gorgeous :)

Priya Suresh said...

Omg, Amazing and gorgeous piece montee.

Rose /Magpie said...

Wow!!! I have been coming here for sometime now and would like to thank you for your wonderful recipes.
The croquembouche looks wonderful! really a mini-version of the ones I've seen but never tasted. They always looked so intimidating with the spun sugar around it, but the recipe you posted looks straightforward enough for me to try!
Could you please also add directions on how to fill the pastry with the cream?
Is this your own recipe or adapted from somewhere?

Unknown said...

Ria, the crouquembouche [hope I spelt it right] looks delicious! It's always been on my to-do list

Ria Mathew said...

Thank you all so much for your valuable comments!

Magpie-Thank you for dropping by.

To fill the choux: Fill a piping bag with the pastry cream and puncture the choux either from the side or from the bottom (this is what I did) and pipe in some pastry cream. It is very simple and you can feel the choux puffing up and gaining weight. Stop when you feel it is full enough.

And this is an adapted recipe from Nick Malgieri and Peter Kump's baking school in Manhattan. I have mentioned it in my post :)

Avanika- No, you spelt it wrong! Buhahaha!

Rachel said...

Very very pretty!the chocolate drizzle makes it all the more charming.

Divya Kudua said...

Wonderful pics Ria..love the tower of goodness..;).I am yet to try the other tower..lamingtons:):)

Finla said...

I thought i wrote a coment y'day. Looks really bautiful and as your pics are so beautiful why don't you send them to FG and TS.

Indian Khana said...

Lovely pics Ria...recipe looks yummy....

Pavithra Elangovan said...

Gorgeous ria.. loved ur piece montee. All the clicks are fantastic.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

You did a great job! Your pièce montée is splendid and so are your pretty shots!



Baking Addict said...

What a beautiful presentation. Lovely photos as well.

Swapna said...

Beautiful pictures Ria!!! The name Croquembouche is new to me.... but I used to make these cream puffs often but never stacked them as a tower ;)..Love you new header....

A_and_N said...

You've outdone yourself, this time around! :)

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Love your croquembouche, Ria and that plate its on is so pretty.
Haven't been here in a while and wanted to say your new header loks gorgeous!

Renata said...

Ria, I love your Pièce Montée! The decoration is so beautiful! That's a beautiful plate!

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday Ria! Have a good one


AdukalaVishesham said...

wow beautiful... it looks divine... loved your presentation and the detailed procedure...

Rose /Magpie said...

Thanks Ria! Oops missed that! Just googled it and came across it on the daring bakers site which also had the instructions for the filling-so sorry you had to type it out again for me!Can't wait to try it sometime. Yours looks soo good.

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