3 cups water
1 1/2 cups butter
4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups flour
12 eggs + 1 beaten egg
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
(can also add 1 small box instant vanilla pudding and 1 cup milk)
4 cups sugar
4 TBLS. corn syrup
1 1/3 cups. water
A croquembouche is a traditional wedding cake/dessert at a French wedding or christening. Croquembouche comes from the French word “croquan” meaning crackling and “bouche” for mouth. Thus, croquembouche refers to the crackling or crunch in your mouth when eating this traditional dessert.
There is basically 3 components to this recipe: 1. The pastry puffs. 2. Pastry cream. 3. Caramelized suger.
The basic process is to prepare the pastry puffs filled with cream, and then assemble into a pyramid shape using the carmel syrup to hold them positioned and to decorate.
1. To make the puffs: In large saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil over medium heat. Add flour, salt, and sugar and stir vigorously until mixture pulls away from sides of pan. Transfer dough to large bowl. Using a mixer, beat in 12 eggs, one at a time until mixture is smooth. Cover loosely with plastic and let stand until cool.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spoon half of dough into large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch-round tip. (You can also use a gallon size ziplock bag with the end snipped off).
3. Pipe 1 inch mounds onto parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing then 1 inch apart. Brush tops with an egg glaze made of the additional beaten egg. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 minutes. Turn off oven and let them rest for an additional 3-5 minutes. Pastry needs to be hard to the touch. Cool on racks. Repeat with remaining pastry dough. (Puffs can be prepared ahead and stored in freezer until ready to assemble.)
4. Make the pastry cream: With electric mixer, beat together whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until stiff. For a bit more flavor, in separate bowl, mix the instant vanilla pudding, reducing milk from package directions. Carefully fold into the prepared whipped cream.
5. Fill pastry bag (or ziploc bag) fitted with a 1/4 inch wide tip with the pastry cream. Insert tip into pastry puffs, and fill with cream. Repeat until all puffs are filled.
6. To make caramelized sugar: In medium saucepan, combine water, sugar, and corn syrup and bring to boil. Do not stir. Cover pan, and boil until steam dissolves any crystals. Uncover, and boil 5-8 more minutes, or until amber in color. Do not overcook, but be sure to cook it to a hard-ball stage. (Does it form a hard ball when a bit is dropped into cold water?). Remove from heat and dip the bottom of each puff into the caramel using caution since the syrup with be extremely hot. Arrange puffs in pyramid shape, starting at the base, top side facing out. (You can buy a pastry cone or styrofoam cone at pastry or craft supply stores. You can also try stacking your own.). If syrup begins to harden, reheat briefly over medium heat to liquefy.
7. To make spun-sugar web to wrap around the croquenbouche: Cut the looped ends of a wire whisk with wire cutters. Dip the ends into melted sugar mixture. Wave the caramel back and forth over greased cooking rack, or over arranged croquenbouche. Allow the stands to fall in long, thin threads. Wrap any stray strands up and around the croquembouche.
8. The croquembouche is also stunning with tiny fresh flowers or topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and drizzled with dark chocolate and/or caramel.
9. To serve, crack the carmel and remove individual cream puffs.