Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I have some friends across the pond that would like to know how to make a croquembouche, and decided it would be a fun post. This dessert is 100% classical French. It is made by stacking profiteroles (custard filled cream puffs), coated with caramel and stacked into a tall pyramid shape. Many times, for a little added wow factor, the croquembouche is topped with spun sugar.
This recipe will be built in the steps necessary to complete the finished product.
Step one: profiteroles
Pate a choux (choux pastries)
250 mL water, or milk
100 g unsalted butter
5 g salt
5 g sugar
150 g flour (T 45 type, or soft multipurpose)
1. Sift the dry ingredients together
2. Place milk and butter into a heavy sauce pan and heat to a boil. When mixture comes to a boil add the dry ingredients all at once and immediately begin stirring quickly with a wooden spoon. The dough will immediately turn into a smooth, and elastic appearance. Continue to stir rapidly just until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the pain or the spoon. Be careful not to overcook. Remove from heat and allow to rest one minute.
3. While the dough was resting use this time to beat the egg slightly until incorporated evenly.
4. Add the eggs to the dough 1 tablespoon at a time beating quickly to incorporate each time additional eggs are added. Continue this process until the dough no longer looks shiny, and all the eggs are incorporated evenly. The dough will continue to hold its shape on the end of your spoon when done correctly.
5. Use a pastry bag, or small scoop to portion your dough on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Be sure to leave plenty of space between as your dough will more than double in size when baking.
6. Place in a preheated, 205°C oven for 10 minutes to bake, reduce heat to 177°C and bake for approximately 20 minutes longer. The cooking time may need to be adjusted slightly if making smaller portion shells. The finished shell should be a light golden brown in appearance when done.
Step two: Creme Patissiere ( Pastry Cream)
500 mL milk
1 vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
125 g sugar
30 g flour
30 g corn flour
1. Place the milk and vanilla pod in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil on the stove and reduce heat to prevent boiling over.
2. Mix the corn flour , flour, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add the eggs gradually while whisking until smooth.
3. Slowly add about one third of the milk to the egg mixture while whisking continuously. Pour the egg mixture back into the remaining heated cream.
4. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to boil and thickens. Continue to stir, while counting to 10. Remove from heat, taste to make sure all starch flavor has been removed. If you can still taste the starchy residue, return to heat and cook a couple seconds longer.
5. Transfer to a heat proof container, and place plastic film directly on top of custard making sure to remove all air bubbles. Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool completely.
6. When ready to use your pastry cream, removed from the refrigerator, remove plastic and vanilla beans, and knocked back with a wooden spoon until smooth.
7. Rinse the vanilla bean with cool water, and pat dry with a paper towel. The vanilla bean can now be added to your sugar canister to continue to add flavor for future baking needs.
Coffee flavored pastry: Dissolve 15 g of instant espresso powder in the cream before whisking it into the egg yolk mixture
Chocolate pastry cream: add 30 g of melted semi sweet chocolate to the warm cream, prior to adding to the egg mixture.
Butterscotch pastry cream: substitute for ounces of light brown sugar and place of granulated sugar in the recipe.
Orange pastry cream: add 30 mL of Grand Marnier liquor, and 10 g grated orange zest.
Praline pastry cream: add 30 g of ground peanut brittle after your custard has been removed from the stove, whisk to incorporate, cover and refrigerate as with the original recipe.
Crème diplomat (Bavarian cream): equal parts of the whipped pastry cream and whipped cream folded together to incorporate evenly.
Step three: caramel sauce
150 g sugar
75 mL water
3 drops of lemon juice
1. Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan and heat on the stove until golden in color. Remove from heat, and use immediately to coat your profiteroles.
Step four: assembly
1. Is a small pastry tip to poke holes in the bottom of your choux pastry.
2. Using a pastry bag with a small tip, fill choux pastry with pastry cream. Reserve.
3. Build a cone shaped base using aluminum foil, or funnel, making sure it is firm enough to support the weight of your pastry.
4. Begin dipping profiteroles in caramel, and place around the base of your form. Continue this process stacking your profiteroles upon the base to form a tower. Continue building until your tower is complete.
5. Garnish as desired. Keep in mind that when working in high humidity areas the caramel coating your pastry will begin to melt within a short period of time. This is due to moisture in the air, and cannot be prevented. It is highly recommended that you keep your product free from any moisture, or humidity unless you plan on serving immediately.