Croquembouche: Tips & TechniquesFrench
Posted 18 November 2004 - 07:06 AM
And while we're on this subject, the caramel or chocolate covers the puncture hole which is on the bottom of the puff, right??
And I'm not understanding the puff pastry in the brioche pan either. Use it upside down for the base?? getting confused
I have the home edition of a Cordon Bleu cookbook and it doesn't have the nougatine. Do you mean pour a giant solid candy base - that sounds cool.
Posted 18 November 2004 - 07:21 AM
I don't hold tightly to any rule as to whether you fill from the top or bottom. But if you want to cover the whole left from filling it- then you need to fill from the top. I suppose you could have your bottoms dipped in chocolate...........but typically pastries are garnished on their tops.
Rules can be broken..........
The nougatine base is something very traditionally European. In older pastry books the chefs prided themselfs in elaborate croquembouches combined with nougatine. You still can buy contempory pastry books that include this approach. I believe they also use these in place of cake for weddings. It's not done much by American chefs..........it's like so old that it's new again...........and not well known by American clients. In my personal opinion I like the idea of edible bases, etc.... but the truth is no one will eat that and using alot of nuts in nougatine can be expensive............I'd opt for a poured sugar base instead or a base covered in rolled fondant and painted with food colors.
Posted 18 November 2004 - 08:59 AM
I have no idea how big your party is. I will fill choux one day before-unless the filling is very wet , they do not suffer.
If I am going two hours away to a wedding, I want the work done. That is up to you.
this dessert will be for the groom's cake. Size hasn't been determined yet, but we are thinking 70 puffs, since the majority of the recipes I have found make that amount. This is a tradition in the groom's family and really is more for them than feeding the entire group. Their wedding cake is pretty darned big.
I am still not sure what to fill them with that would last. Everything I read says that the filling breaks down withing a few hours, and if I did them at home, then that filling would be breaking down while driving there. I figure their wedding cake will take the better part of an hour to assemble...which puts me at 3 hours before getting to the Croquembouche.
Posted 18 November 2004 - 07:02 PM
I poke a hole in the bottom with a pastry tip and twist out a small round. This will not be seen. You dip the top and side in caramel (dip, turn and drip down the side). Place down at the bottom of your cone (or traced circle). Continue with the next puff and place firmly against the warm caramel side. Go around the circle and continue the next layer. I work with an ice bath next to me- and wear latex gloves. I stick my fingers in the ice water if I drip sugar on them (I also use the ice bath to shock and stop the caramel).
Seventy should be a fun size for you and not at all overwhelming.
Edited by KarenS, 18 November 2004 - 07:03 PM.
Posted 15 December 2004 - 05:52 PM
I am going to the craft store to buy 2 large Christmas tree-shaped molds.
I am also ordering the cream puffs to cut my workload a bit.
I have only made one once, and it was a small one. I remember it being difficult to keep the caramel workable while I stuck the cream puffs to the mold.
Posted 15 December 2004 - 06:19 PM
Once, when I was in a hurry, I laid out the puffs on a rack and poured the caramel over a few of them at a time, then I hauled ass puting them in place before the caramel cooled. It worked, but was kind of wasteful since a lot of the caramel dripped right onto the sheet pan I had under the rack. However, it was fast. Coverage was not 100%, but the ugly part faced in and I wrapped the whole thing is spun sugar anyway so I doubt anyone could tell.
Posted 15 December 2004 - 07:37 PM
Posted 15 December 2004 - 09:55 PM
Dip the tops of all them into the caramel and lay out on a sheet tray. When you are ready to assemble just dip the sides and stick it to it's neighbors. If you are using a mold then even making a fairly large one shouldn't take you too much time. You should be able to dip all the tops without reheating the caramel so at least the visible parts will be uniform in color, and if you have to reheat the caramel during assembly it won't be that noticeable.
Also, use the heaviest pan you have so it retains the most heat, you can also place the pan onto a hot sheet tray, over a water bath, etc.. so the caramel doesn't cool down too rapidly while you're working.
Posted 17 December 2004 - 11:08 AM
It seems weird (and awkward) to me to build a croque inside a mold. Is it absolutely necessary for one of that size? I'm working on a 12-inch nougatine base. Part of me just wants to build it freehand again.
The several pots of caramel is a great idea, which I'll probably use to speed up the process (so there's no down time while I wait for caramel to reheat).
Posted 17 December 2004 - 01:21 PM
It seems weird (and awkward) to me to build a croque inside a mold. Is it absolutely necessary for one of that size?
Nope. Using a mold will just help it go faster and most likely you'll end up with a more uniform finished product. At the last place I worked we cranked out quite a few of them in varying sizes and we never used a mold. There were definitely times I wish we were using molds, but they are in no way required.
Posted 17 December 2004 - 09:05 PM
Posted 17 December 2004 - 11:33 PM
Posted 19 December 2004 - 06:57 AM
Posted 19 December 2004 - 07:43 AM
Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook
Posted 19 December 2004 - 04:37 PM
Posted 20 December 2004 - 02:37 PM
I'll post a picture later when I'm at home. I probably should have built it in a cone, but I'd made a nougatine top for it and really wanted to use it, so I built it freehand, and came up a little short on puffs because I didn't angle in sharply enough. I was also pressed for time, and since I hadn't worked with the cone before, I didn't want to have to spend time figuring it out; I was stressed enough as it was.
Here it is:
edited to add photo
Edited by jgarner53, 20 December 2004 - 06:32 PM.
Posted 23 December 2004 - 09:04 AM
So you had like 200-ish puffs??? Very very very cool - I'm definitely inspired.
Posted 29 December 2004 - 05:16 PM
So you had like 200-ish puffs??? Very very very cool - I'm definitely inspired.
Something like that. I piped them out onto half sheet pans, little more than an inch across, and then counted each pan before I froze them.
I should have made a full quart of pastry cream, but we improvised with lemon curd lightened with whipped cream for the last 50 or so. Most of those went on the bottom. The base was 12 inches in diameter. The top disk of nougatine came in around 6 inches.
and rather than spin my sugar separately, I did it straight on the croque.
Posted 11 January 2005 - 09:59 PM
After many years and many therapy sessions to help me deal with the trauma of Jabba the Puff, I decided to give it another go. In a situation with less pressure.....my employee Xmas party, which was actually a New Year's Eve party, as we were too damn tired at Christmas.
I actually almost chickened out.....but I made the decision to do it at the last minute on New Year's Eve day. Of course, Croqs need to be a last minute type of thing so it all worked out.
Firstly I must tell you all that I work at the most awesome place. My co-workers are my friends and it's a very small town.......all the "foodies" here know each other, and though we "compete" with each other, we help each other as well. Just the other day, the artisan bread guy down the road spaced out when ordering flour and got caught short....he asked me for a "loan" and I was glad to oblige. The next morning he brings me the flour he owed me plus a loaf of ciabatta right out of the oven. This is truly foodie paradise.....!
Anyway, we all thought that the best way to celebrate Xmas/New Year's would be to cook together, for ourselves, for fun. My co-workers plus others from restaurants in town prepared
the main courses and I, well, you guessed it, did the desserts. I told everyone I was ATTEMPTING Croquembouche, because I didn't want to make any guarantees it would turn out.
This time, I even had a Plan B......a couple of chocolate blood orange tarts a la Alice Medrich
just in case. No pressure.
I started with the choux paste, which I have perfected thanks to the help of all my eG'ers here
on the P&B forum! I have what I think is the most perfect choux paste recipe ever. I mixed that up and baked off all my puffs. They would have been perfect except for the fact that I forgot
to take into account that loading up 5 pans of double panned puffs in one convection oven would lower the temperature enough to reduce the puffing power of the steam coming from the eggs.
So five pans of puffs were kinda puny, and the one pan I baked off by itself was perfect. After I got done kicking myself, I started on the pastry cream which I can do in my sleep.
Finished the pastry cream and set it in the fridge to cool. Then it was off to help the hot siders in their endeavours and sip a few glasses of wine while doing so. Heck of a cooking party. We had
a ball wrapping up beef tenderloins in puff pastry with pate and duxelle to make Beef Wellingtons. They made me pipe out the Duchesse Potatoes. More wine....more fun....so great!
Make salad......get a cooking demo from one of our chef friends....we're all showing off for each other and gossiping about who's who and what's what......a foodie party extravaganza for sure.
Finally pastry cream is cool enough so that I can fill all my li'l puffs. Once filled, I started three pots of sugar 15 minutes apart so that I would have all the caramel I needed just when I needed it. Wendy/Sinclair provided me her recipe for sugar that included cream of tartar and I used it.......loved it! I had none of the recrystallizing problems that I've had in the past......thanks Wendy! I dipped my puffs with the help of my co-workers using the first two pots of sugar. The last pot was for adhering all my puffs together and doing the sugar spinning. I freehanded the Croquembouche since I didn't have a mold and it was fairly small anyway. Spinning the sugar was fun, but I think I could have done it better.....my threads were fairly straw-like instead of
hair-like, but good enough. I think I needed to stand a but further away from my dowels, but
I'll know better next time. Anyway, enough suspense. Here's a picture of the thing. I had just enough caramel at the end to cast a star in an oiled up cookie cutter.....hard to see in the pic, but it's there.
My final critique of myself? It's ok. I can do better, and will next time. At least this time I got past my fear of the almighty Croq. That's the big hurdle for me.
I wanted spun sugar to make a perfect swirl around the Croq and I kept trying to "adjust" it....I found that the more you handle it, the more it compacts, so I realized I better just leave well enough alone. I also truly realized how quickly spun sugar deteriorates. I was lucky to have a relatively dry day, but even then, I could see it break down before my eyes.
So after all day cooking with my friends, I went home to change into my party duds, grab my husband, get into our van, stop at the kitchen, pick up the Croq and the Wellingtons and take them out to the New Year's Party Location.......our chef friends' beautiful house overlooking Admiralty Inlet. I hadn't eaten all day (just sipped on wine) and immediately had a martini upon arriving. Then another. Ooops. Before I knew it, I was in La-La land and talking up a storm. Not
sure what I said, but everyone talked to me the day after, so I knew it wasn't anything bad! I didn't do any table dancing either, thank god. I didn't make it til midnight.....I fell asleep on the daybed on the sun porch and the next thing I know I'm being handed a glass of champagne with the announcement, it's midnight! I immediately rushed into the main room thinking perhaps, like Cinderella, my Croquembouche might have turned into a pumpkin. Not so. Instead, a better sight.....most of it gone....devoured by the hungry hordes.
Which leads me to my last thought of the night......Croquembouche puffs are DAMN TASTY!
The crunch of the caramel, and the lightness of the pastry cream......luscious! It was the
perfect dessert to cap off the perfect meal at the perfect party.
And that, is Annie's Croquembouche Adventure.
Posted 11 January 2005 - 10:28 PM
Would this even work?
Has anyone done it?
I was thinking maybe 7 stacked up 4,3,2,1 and maybe a raspberry dotted here and there.
I really want to try this but don't know if it would even make sense.
Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren
Posted 12 January 2005 - 08:34 AM
Next time (I know there will be) try adjusting the speed in which you move your arm.......if you go faster your strands will be thinner (like you wanted). Granted when you go faster your likely to send threads everywhere........but you can get them even thinner.
P.S. I love the star on top. That opens up new thoughts on how to decorate these in my future!
Handmc, yes you can make individual bouches. They look best when you bake smaller sized puffs. But then as you eat this it's more choux paste to filling ratio. Where as larger puff's I think taste better/in proportion to the filling. There's been several individual bouches published in various baking books over the years. I think the addition of raspberries would be lovely!! You can add a blanket of raspberry sauce on your plate too.
Posted 12 January 2005 - 09:59 AM
My Chef decorated it like a real tree. He only had me make one, because it was so huge, and since it was the centerpiece he didn't think anyone would eat it.
So it was him who had to try and patch it up in between seatings on Christmas Eve.
Sinclair, I used chocolate like you do. What a great idea! That allowed me to do it in advance and I think it was a lot easier to eat.
I ended up making my own mold out of styrofoam.
Posted 12 January 2005 - 01:55 PM
Posted 17 February 2005 - 12:24 PM
1) The croque will serve about 65 people--haven't decided to do one big or two small, but I'm guessing 180 puffs or so? (That's the easiest part...)
2) Then, I'm starting with the Saveur recipe for pate a choux, which says it serves 16 people:
1 1/2 c. water
12 tbsp. butter
2 cups flour
About how many puffs do you think that'll yield?
3) Finally, what's a reasonable size for the base? For two small ones, I was basing the math on something like: 1st layer: 12 puffs, 2nd layer: 11 puffs, 3rd: 10, etc., but I can't remember if that's really how it works out. And will it really be about a foot high, assuming the puffs are about an inch around? Or are the puffs bigger? Really, how big is too big for the base?
Ohhhh, how I wish I'd taken notes last time...
Edited by zora, 17 February 2005 - 12:52 PM.
Posted 18 February 2005 - 07:31 AM
Assembling into a cone shape sure has alot of variables, mainly how big your baked puffs are and how well you stack them. I'd say based on what I do, my average base consists of almost 20 puffs, but I'm probably aiming for a taller cone then you. 12 puffs definately seems like too little....this will be a very small cone.
I'm sorry, I can't be more specific....theres just too many variables. When you think about stacking them remember ........the puff may rest in between two joined puffs so it's not stacking at it's highest point. 12, 1" puffs stacked may equal 9" tall not 12" tall.
Posted 21 November 2006 - 05:13 PM
Before I start my next attempt, I'm hoping someone can offer up a helping hand with a couple of questions:
1. What's the best way to get a thinner caramel coating on my puffs? I didn't realize it until we started eating them, but my dipped puffs seemed to have too heavy a caramel coat, so you had to take a really hard bite to crunch into the puff... and then the caramel stuck to your teeth something awful. I don't want to be detaching my guests' fillings during dessert. Will keeping the caramel warmer during dipping help with this? Or is there a way to brush on the caramel somehow? Or should I skip dipping the tops completely?
2. The dipped puffs remained slightly sticky after the caramel hardened. The caramel wasn't goopy, but it was tacky enough that you'd have to wipe off your fingers (or lick them) before touching anything else. I'm guessing this was due to the weather - it was overcast and damp, although not raining. Is that true? Or should I be doing something else to reduce stickiness?
3. How do you serve the darn thing, other than ripping it apart with your hands? I need to make a croquembouche for a wedding, and I'd like to keep the portioning process semi-polite Grab a knife and hack away to create portions of 3 or 4 puffs?
As background, this was my process: Dip tops of baked puffs into caramel; let set. Fill puffs with pastry cream. Dip sides/bottom of puffs into caramel and construct croquembouche. I use Pichet Ong's choux recipe and Wendy's spun sugar (14 oz. sugar, 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar, 8 liq. oz. water) from this thread.
Thanks for any and all advice!
Posted 21 November 2006 - 05:45 PM
1. What's the best way to get a thinner caramel coating on my puffs?
Keep the caramelized sugar very hot -- the hotter it is, the thinner it will be, and the less will adhere. That's the only thing I can think of.
Posted 21 November 2006 - 06:10 PM
Tongs are the way to go, by the time your service starts, the caramel should pick up enough ambient moisture so that they can be pulled apart.
hope this helps,
Posted 21 November 2006 - 11:33 PM
Tongs! That makes sense for serving. I'm going to go look for a sturdy pair...
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