Week 13 bake challenge was Pate a Choux, also known as Cream Puff Pastry. A croquembouche (French for “crunch in the mouth”) is a tower of filled cream puffs, glued in a shape with hot caramel and decorated with thin strands of caramel. Can you believe this is considered a wedding cake in some places?? I had a blast making this and enjoyed the impressiveness of the finished product 🙂
I really needed this baking “win” this week, BTW. The past few days I attempted an orange pie (just meh), as well as lemon sweet rolls (also meh), and then the first batch of chocolate pastry cream was a dud, with zero flavor. So back to the drawing board, and I actually created a dairy-free dark chocolate pastry cream in its place, which is delicious!
For the cream puff pastry, I would recommend this one from King Arthur Flour (can’t seem to go wrong with many of their recipes!). Fill these with a vanilla pastry cream or another flavor; an excellent dark chocolate, dairy-free pastry cream recipe is here 😉
For the caramel glue, I used 2 cups of sugar with 1/2 cup of water boiled on the stove (without stirring, or you’ll crystallize it) until it’s a copper color. Plunge the bottom of the pan into a bowl of cold water to stop the caramel from cooking. Now get to work! Use tongs to dip your puffs and place them in a tower shape, i.e. more on the bottom and progressively fewer as you go up. Use some nonpareils for a different look, or fling strands of hot caramel around. I twirled a few bits of caramel around a cylinder to make some spirals.
A croquembouche is seriously a SHOWSTOPPER (any Great British Baking Show fans out there??) and so fun to just break off a hunk and eat. Enjoy!