Thursday, February 5, 2015

Lobster Chantilly Croquembouche with Black Truffle Confetti for #ValentineCroque

Welcome to our Valentine Croquembouche Challenge (#ValentineCroque). We are a group of intrepid bloggers who occasionally like to push ourselves well out of our comfort zone to meet baking challenges fearlessly. Jenni Field of Pastry Chef Online, whose tagline is 'Fearless in the Kitchen', challenged us to make Valentine’s-themed croquembouche. 

We are here to show you that you do not always have to be bound by tradition, so we created croquembouche that adhere to the spirit of the dish if not the actual letter. You’ll find all sorts of combinations of flavors here (including a savory version) that will hopefully expand your idea of croquembouche. Not all of our croques were wildly successful, but we all learned something, and we all pushed ourselves. Besides, blogging shouldn’t always be about aspirational and often unobtainable Pinterest moments. It should also be about the near misses and the journey we take when we take a chance. Thanks for joining us today.

If you’re interested in participating in future challenges, please contact Jenni by emailing her - onlinepastrychef[at]yahoo[dot]com. Follow our Valentine Croquembouche Pinterest Board.


When I saw the challenge levied by Jenni, of Pastry Chef Online, to make a Valentine-themed Croquembouche, I thought: I've never made a croquembouche, let's do it! Her only requirements were that it had to be - as they traditionally are - "cone-shaped and awesome."

Okay. I can do that. Or, at least, I can try. I messaged to ask if I could go savory because I'm not much of a sweets gal. She agreed.

First, a bit about croquembouche in case you're unfamiliar. The name comes from the French croque en bouche  and translates to "crunches in the mouth." It's composed of petits choux (choux pastry balls) piled into a cone and bound with threads of caramel. Traditionally, it's decorated with sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons.

Here's my version...I made a Lobster Chantilly Croquembouche held together with a Balsamic Caramel and dotted with Shaved Black Truffles. Okay, there's no chocolate involved. No roses. But lobster, truffles, and balsamic. Plus I served it with a saison...now that's my Valentine dream come true! But this was also out of my comfort zone. So, thanks, Jenni.


Ingredients
Pâte à Choux

  • 12 T unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 C water
  • 2 C flour
  • 9 eggs

Roasted Lobster

  • 3 lobster tails
  • oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Savory Chantilly Cream

  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 T flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 T tarragon, chopped
  • 1/2 T chives, thinly sliced
  • zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Balsamic-Mustard Caramel

  • 3/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C water
  • 3/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/2 t mustard

Garnish

  • black truffles
  • fresh herbs
  • freshly grated lemon zest

Procedure
Pâte à Choux
Preheat oven to 425°F.

Bring butter and water to a boil in a large saucepan. Remove pan from heat and add flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a thick dough and pulls away from sides of pan, approximately 3 minutes. Return pan to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until dough is lightly dried, about 2 minutes more. Transfer dough to a bowl, and let cool for 5 minutes; using a wooden spoon, beat in 8 eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Dough will come together and be thick, shiny, and smooth.

Dip two spoons in water, shake off excess, and scoop a walnut-size piece of dough with one spoon. With other spoon, scrape dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet, setting pieces 1 apart on a baking sheet.



Lightly beat remaining egg with pinch of salt and brush each piece of dough with it. Bake until puffed and light brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°, and continue to bake until well browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool.



Roasted Lobster

For the lobster tails: You can do this the day before, if you like; preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using kitchen shears, cut each lobster tail down the back, stopping at the last segment before the tail piece.

Bend back the tail until you hear a loud crack. Slip a knife between the meat and the bottom membrane, freeing tail meat from the shell. Pull the meat up and over the shell, closing the shell shut beneath it. The tail meat, then, piggybacks on top of the shell. Coat the lobster meat with a generous coating of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Bake for 1-2 minutes per ounce of weight, if fresh. It might take longer if the tail is frozen. Once your tails are cooked, pull out the tail meat and slice into bite-sized pieces.


Savory Chantilly Cream

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream until peaks form. Fold the other ingredients - and the chopped roasted lobster - into the cream gently. Set aside.


Balsamic-Mustard Caramel

Making caramel is one of the most unnerving things for me. But it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it. In a dry saucepan cook sugar over low heat, stirring slowly with a fork, until melted and pale golden. Cook the caramel, without stirring, gently swirling pan, until deep golden brown. Remove pan from heat and pour water down side of pan. The mixture will violently steam and the caramel will harden. Add vinegar, butter, and mustard. Simmer, stirring, until caramel is liquid again, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Set aside. It will thicken as it cools. If it gets too thick, simply put it back on the heat to loosen it up.

To Assemble...

Slice the truffles on a mandolin, chop the herbs, and zest the lemon.

Gently slice into your puffs, they will be mostly hollow. Spoon a teaspoon - or more - of the cream into the puff.

Using a dollop of caramel, stick the puffs together to form a cone. You'll have to see the stacks we made. I felt a little bit inadequate with my mere 5-layer cone. But it was given three sets of thumbs up from my boys, so I'll take that.

Once your cone is assembled, drizzle the remaining caramel over the top and sprinkle the croquembouche with slices of black truffle, shards of lemon zest, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. Enjoy!

Here's what the rest of the #ValentineCroque crew brought to the table...


Valentine Croquembouche Challenge

16 comments:

  1. Wow, Cam. Wow! That is one sexy savory croque you have there! I am so glad you leapt into this challenge--you knocked it out of the park!

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    1. Thanks for levying the challenge. I NEVER would have attempted this without your nudge.

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  2. Oh my gosh, it turned out lovely. Cam, you are my cooking hero!!!

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    1. Thanks, Wendy. I was really intimidated by this project...all the more reason to jump right in.

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  3. Amazing creativity! I would eat a whole tower of this croquembouhe! I have got to make this!

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    1. Thanks, Ansh. Yes, you do have to make it. And tell me what you think.

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  4. Ohhhhhh MMMMMM Geeeeee! This sounds so incredibly awesome!! What a fabulous marriage of flavors in this! Savory was so damn creative!! LOVE!

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  5. Oh, my gosh, what a gourmet, savory croquembouche! I LOVE it. Personally, I prefer cream puffs with a savory filling---and yours is exquisite!!!

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  6. Ansh, This is totally crazy - in the best possible way! The idea of a savory croquembouche is so unique. I can't even imagine how you did all this and a truffle sliced with a mandoline - unreal!! (I would add a few more exclamation points, but figure that you get the picture.) I wish I could have tasted this - bet it was amazing.

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    1. Thanks. I had a lot of fun making this.

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  7. How gorgeously creative and delicious, Camilla. Bravo! Truly a luxurious croquembouche and perfect for a Valentine's meal!

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  8. It's like a fancified lobster roll. I love it and bet it taste amazing. http://www.theroadtohoney.com

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    Replies
    1. I have lobster rolls on my list of to-dos. Can I cross them off after this??

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