Croquembouche is a French dessert consisting of profiteroles, choux pastry balls, that have beenpiled into a cone, bound with threads of caramel, and often decorated with other confectionery such as sugared almonds, chocolate, edible flowers, candied violets, gold balls, and gum paste flowers…or covered in macarons or ganache.
The name comes from the French phrase croque en bouche, meaning “something that crunches in the mouth.”
Croquembouche has been included in that has been included in French lists of entremets—elaborate dishes, both savory and sweet, that are served between courses during large wedding, baptismal, and first communion banquets in Italy and France—since around 1806.
So exactly is this entrement to make at home for your next banquet…or dessert table…
1. Prep…Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Making the choux…
- 2C water
- 2 sticks butter
- 1tsp salt
- 1Tbsp sugar
- 2C flour
- 8 to 10 egg
- Bring water, butter, salt, and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.
- Take the pan off the heat. Add flour all at once.
- Return the pan to the heat.
- Cook, stirring, 30 seconds to evaporate some of the moisture.
- Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Add 6 eggs,stopping after each additionto scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add 1 or 2 more eggs, and mix until incorporated.
3. Piping the profiteroles…
- Pipe the dough into mounds that are 1″ high and 3/4″ in diameter onto a parchment lined baking sheet, using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip.
- Whisk 2 eggs with 1Tbsp water. Brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash.
4. Baking the profiteroles…Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet.
5. Making the custard…
- 4C milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 12 egg yolks
- 1 1/3C sugar
- 1/2C cornstarch
- Heat milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Set off of the heat for 15 minutes.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add cornstarch. Whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in the hot milk mixture. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan.
- Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling.
- Remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and any flavorings, such as chocolate or coffee. Let cool slightly.
- Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
- Chill at least 2 hours.
6. Making the caramel…
- 2 1/2C sugar
- 2/3C water
- Dissolve the sugar in a saucepan with the water. Boil until light golden caramel. Dip the bottom of the pan in an ice bath.
7. Assembling the croquembouche…
- Poke a hole with a plain pastry tip in the bottom of each cream puff. Pipe it full of the custard.
- Dip the sides of the puffs in the caramel.
- Stick about 20 cream puffs together in a circle, tops facing out.
- Keep adding rows on top of the first but a bit smaller to create a tower,checking from all sides occasionally to make sure it’s straight.
- Drizzle entirely with caramel.
- Decorate as desired.
- Serve croquembouche within 4 hours of making to ensure the filling doesn’t soften the puffs.