Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Eve Croquembouche

For his birthday treats at school last month, my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf asked if he could bring croquembouche. First, that last week of school before Winter Break is always ridiculously chaotic. Second, I needed an easy-to-make and easy-to-transport treat. 

Sorry, Sweetheart, a croquembouche does not fit the bill. When I said 'no', he asked to bring a Bûche de Noël. No! 

He got his Nutty Bûche de Noël on Christmas Eve. He didn't get his croquembouche until last night. And he had to do most of the work. Luckily, he was game. I love that elf!


There are really three parts to a croquembouche; we've gotten two parts down, the cream puffs and the filling. Our caramel is tasty, but we still haven't gotten the hang of making the candy threads.

Ingredients
Pâte à Choux
  • 12 T unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 C water
  • 2 C flour
  • 9 eggs
Filling
  • 1 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 1 T fig butter
Caramel
  • 2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1/2 C water

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.


Filling

Place ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat cream until  stiff peaks form. Place filling into a pastry bag or other decorating tool. Insert tip and fill cream puffs.


Caramel
Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cook until smooth and amber, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

 Assembly
You can create a cone-shape on your own. But I am not a good engineer. So, we cheated and I bought a paper cone to use as a form. It made life so much easier. 


Use a pastry brush to brush the caramel onto the bottom of the cream puff. Adhere the puff to the cone. Work as quickly as you can - and as carefully as you can. D and I ended up with several burns and blisters. We'll be more careful next time! You can use the leftover caramel to make candy thread, if you know how to do that. As I said, we're not that skilled. 

This was a perfect dessert for our New Year's Eve celebration. And D was so happy to finally get his croquembouche. Cheers!



I love my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf! He's so amenable to working hard in the kitchen.

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