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Croquembouche: Tips & Techniques


Wimpy
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A technique I found useful is to add a touch of cocoa butter at the end of the caramel cooking stage desired. This not only helps with a higher gloss but acts a humidity buffer in case there is any moisture in the air. It procuces a "dry" "crisp" caramel less likely to soften.

M

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here it is. Learned a lot with this one starting with the importance of uniform size puffs. We just kept adding decorations until you couldn't see the mistakes anymore :rolleyes: We docorated with wreaths, red chiles, garland, and some French candied violets. The topper is 5 nutmegs dipped in sugar then attached. We don't have access to cocoa butter here in town (except sometimes as hand cream) so we couldn't do his trick, so if it gets humid we'll be pulling the star off. You can see more of Patrick A's gingerbread village in the gingerbread topic.

Edited to add: We also brought out the Wagner Power Painter again for a gentle dusting of royal icing snow. And this was 470 puffs and just over 3 feet tall.

gallery_41282_4652_53506.jpg

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That's awesome! I'm loving those chile ornaments. I went to the gingerbread topic and took a peek at the village as well. They'll be fighting over this when the "for sale" sign goes up.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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3 tips from a non-expert, but 'fresh in my mind' maker...

1. Make the balls as uniform as is humanly possible

2. If its not to be eaten (display) just avoid caramelized sugar altogether (although we didn't have the chance to dry Dejaq's suggestion above) - we glued with royal icing

3. Have an intern (Patrick A :wink: ) to do all the pate choux making!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Pic coming soon...

The croq that we made was auctioned off as a fund raiser for PatrickA's high school culinary program. It raised $250 when two doctors decided to bid against each other. This morning we were preparing to deliver it, and moved it from its higher display shelf to a lower counter. A few balls fell off - no big deal, but right as I was about to set it on the counter it tilted just enough and broke into a zillion pieces! It was right out of Food Network.

The winning doc was gracious enough to give the money anyway, and we had made a fresh one for him to enjoy - which softened the blow.

I'll have to learn more about royal icing since it seemed like it dried out and become too fragile. Anyway, its been fun...but done with this for a long time.

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Sorry to hear about the crash Rob. Glad to hear the buyer was cool about it, especially since it was for a good cause. You guys did an awesome job.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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  • 3 years later...

I did my first "real" croque this past weekend...I had made a mini one before with maybe 20 puffs, and decided it was time to go full-sized. Heeding others' comments about dipped faces being too much caramelized sugar, I opted for dripping some down the sides, a molten river from the top. I think it just ended up looking sloppy and will keep it on the inside next time!

Lessons learned:

-Avoid the caramel drip

-Even-sized and -shaped puffs are crucial (note the gaping holes)

-Have a plan of how many you'll need (I had one puff left over, meaning I couldn't select for uniform shape)

-Once the caramel starts to soften, there's no saving it. I had tried to time it for serving but the hosts decided to serve an hour later, and it was heavily tilting by that time...and any attempts to straighten the croque just dislodged more puffs!

-The "two fork" technique for wrapping spun sugar around it worked really well

-Forming by hand (without a cone) is not as hard as it appears

Without further ado, the pictures...I added more spun sugar closer to serving time, but didn't grab a photo.

croque full.jpg

croque closeup.jpg

Any additional insights would be most welcome (especially on how to make the photo not sideways)!

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Mel, congratulations, that's impressive. It looks beautiful, I don't see those big gaping holes at all.

I've always wondered how you serve one of these. Between the caramel and spun sugar, I can't picture it. Or is it meant to be admired and not eaten?


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I've always wondered how you serve one of these. Between the caramel and spun sugar, I can't picture it. Or is it meant to be admired and not eaten?

Traditionally, once it's been thoroughly admired, you eventually have to disassemble it with a knife and serve a few choux/puffs by plate.

And it's delicious so it would be a shame not to eat it.

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It also depends on the humidity of where you're serving...the caramelized sugar becomes tacky and less structural as it's exposed to moisture in the air, so if you assemble it several hours in advance, one can pull pieces off with reasonable grace.

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It also depends on the humidity of where you're serving...the caramelized sugar becomes tacky and less structural as it's exposed to moisture in the air, so if you assemble it several hours in advance, one can pull pieces off with reasonable grace.

Whenever I've served it we just pull pieces off by hand--great for a cocktail party/finger food buffet.

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  • 11 months later...

6649102893_65ac99e8c6.jpg

We made a croquembouche for the New Year's Eve - pate choux recipe from Dorie Greenspan's "Around my French table", pastry cream filling and spun sugar "strips" holding the whole thing together.

Quite a showstopper and really yummy!

Edited by Pille (log)
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