Oh no... i just realized i'm 5 days late for my daring bakers' Croquembouche post. AHHHHHHHHH, i can't believe it. You have no idea how devastated i'm feeling right now. I was so excited about this moths' challenge that i completed mine on May 2nd-- that's 1 day after the reveal date! UGHHHHH, *cries*, it's been a long time since i've been this dissapointed in myself, but i guess i should cut myself some slack since life has been more than hectic for the past week. I'll spare you guys the details but let's just say it involved a lot of studying, graduations, family reunions, food comas, hospitals, parties, and fist fights. Mmmhmm, now let your imaginations run wild! :P
So back to the my piece montée: I never had much luck making choux pastry; tried it many times but always ended up with dough that was too wet to stand. So this time i followed Cat's recipe EXACTLY and out came the most amazing puffs ever! I made around 40 miniature puffs and filled it with coffee pastry cream. I wanted to do more with the decorations on the Croquembouche but after many fail attempts with numerous items, i decided to keep it simple with spun sugar and a last-minute stapled ribbon. I can't wait till I finish my last exam this saturday because i'm dying to try these puffs again. Thank-you so much, Cat, for this awesome challenge. It's definitely one of my fav!
Pâte à Choux
(Yield: About 28)
(Yield: About 28)
- ¾ cup (175 ml) water
- 6 tablespoon. (85 g) unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- Egg wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
- Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally [picture 1, 2].
- At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely [picture 3].
- Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan [picture 4].
- Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.
- Add 1 egg [picture 5]. The batter will appear loose and shiny [picture 6]. 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 [picture 7].
- 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 [picture 8]. 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 [picture 9]. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
Pâte à Choux
Vanilla Crème Patissiere
- 1 cup (225 ml) whole milk
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 6 tablespoon (100 g) sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoon (30 g) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon. vanilla extract
- Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk [picture 1]. Set aside.
- In another pan, combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat [picture 2].
- Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture [picture 3].
- Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook [picture 4].
- Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking [picture 5].
- Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil [picture 6].
- Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
- 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 [picture 1].
- Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.
Hard Caramel Glaze:
- 1 cup (225 g.) sugar
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand [picture 2].
- Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color.
- Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.
Assembly of your Piece Montée:
- 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 [picture 3]. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up [picture 4].
- When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!