Profiteroles [Part 3/3] – Croquembouche

 

**EDIT: I need to improve this caramel recipe! It works sometimes, and doesn’t others – So if you want something a little more dependable, I would recommend checking out Martha Stewart’s Recipe (which I have tried, and is great). 🙂 Sorry for this, everyone! I hope the photos and notes on this blog help you as you put yours together!

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The last two times I’ve posted, I’ve written about making Pastry Cream and making Profiteroles.  Today, I’m going to post about… Croquembouche!

“Croquembouche” is the name of a French dessert that literally means, “Crunch in mouth.”  I learned how to make this a while ago, as a favor to someone who wanted it at an event… And wow.  It’s super good, really cool looking, and just interesting.  Which are three things I love about making dessert.

If you’re feeling adventurous, I’m abut to tell you how to make one yourself.  Are you ready?

A croquembouche, if I understand correctly, is a French tradition for weddings, in place of a cake.  It is basically a tower of profiteroles, stuck together with caramelized sugar and then decorated with spun sugar.

To make one, you’re going to need the following ingredients, plus a few supplies:

Profiteroles, filled and ready to go
Sugar
Water

…Yup, that’s all!

Note:  This is a homemade, home-eaten method… If you’re making this for a wedding, you might want to be a little more meticulous about how you put this together.  Feel free to ask questions if you need help!

To get started, set up a work station with newspaper on the floor, greased wax paper on the counter, and the plate you want to display your masterpiece on.  You will also need a hot pad, a spoon, and 2 forks or a sugar spinning tool, to make those thin strands of caramelized sugar around the outside of your dessert.

Forks can be used if you don’t have anything else, and this is how you would hold them:

My preference, however, is to use something like this.  I actually just took an old whisk, clipped the end off with wire cutters, and made myself a sugar spinning tool.

To make  the caramelized sugar, put 1 c. of sugar and 3 Tbsp. water into a medium heavy bottomed saucepan.  Cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture is golden brown (you don’t have to make it quite as dark as I did if you like a smoother, lighter caramel taste).  DO NOT STIR.

Important: As the mixture boils, use a pastry brush, dipped in water, to brush down the sides of the pan periodically to remove bits of sugar stuck to the sides. This will help keep a liquid consistency.

Note:  This is HOT!  Be careful.  And by hot, I mean beyond hot.  Like, hotter than hot oil hot.  Be VERY careful.

Remove the caramel from heat and set to work!  (You need to work quickly; this caramel will set as time goes by).  Using a spoon, drizzle a small ring of caramel on the base of the plate you’re using.  Set about 5 profiteroles around the caramel, to stick to the plate.

Tip:  You can also dip the profiteroles, but to keep you from burning your fingertips, I’m going to recommend using a spoon.  I have also found that if you dip them, sometimes the blend of textures in the caramel will cause it to crystalize in the pot… Which is frustrating, because then you have to start over.  So a spoon is an easy way to work.

Drizzle the tops of those 5 with more caramel, and stack more profiteroles on top (I did 4 for the second layer, 3 for each of the next 2 layers, and 1 for the top).  When they are all stacked together, you can spoon a little more caramel over the whole thing, to drip down the sides if you want (optional).

Next, dip the tips of the forks or sugar spinner into the hot caramel.  Lift it out, and and dip it back in a couple of times until there are little tips of sugar stuck to the end of the sugar spinner.

Then, either on the greased wax paper, or on the croquembouche itself (which is what I did, and that’s why the plate looks so… special ;)), drag the spinning utensil out of the pot and flick it back and forth (waving it around) across the surface you’re spinning on, re-dipping it in the sugar as needed.  If you are doing it over wax paper, flick it back and forth a few times to create long, whispy strands of sugar, and then pick them up and wrap them around the croquembouche while they’re still warm.

Do this as many times as you want, until you get that kind of “Bird’s nest” effect, and you think it looks good.
Tip:  You’ll notice that there are little blobs of caramel on the plate that I made this one; that is because I spun the sugar directly over top of the croqumbouche.  If you want a cleaner look, spin the sugar separately, and then wrap it around.

 

Dun-na!  Serve it up!  🙂

 

 

So much goodness!


And that’s all!  If you make this, please let me know… I’d love to hear how it turned out.

Thanks for reading!

–Naomi

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4 Comments »

  1. Your recipe for caramel was crap. I tried it three times, and it never worked out. I gave up on your recipe and used one that was much more successful.

    Like

    • So sorry to hear that it didn’t work for you! I have recently tried following this again and also didn’t get the same results that I had before; I’ll be aiming to improve it as soon as I can.

      I’m glad you found something else that worked well- Thanks for your feedback!

      Like

      • I just wanted to apologize. I wrote that while feeling incredibly stressed and frustrated as I was running late, and had wasted a lot of material and time trying the caramel. Your recipes for the pastry cream (I added a vanilla bean to it) and the shells were fantastic. Just this one is dubious!

        Like

      • I appreciate this! I’m so glad the other parts of the recipe worked well. It is always my aim that my tutorials will be a help and good experience for my reader’s. I’m thankful for your initial feedback, as it will help me improve for the future!

        All the best as you continue to put your hands to the task of creating pretty, tasty things! You’re brave to have tried this recipe! 🙂 I hope you’ll visit my blog again soon.

        Like

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