|Begin with filled cream puffs (make puffs the day before; fill the hour before assembling croquembouche.)|
|With the foundation firmly in place, continue building cream puff layers, sliding them toward the center to make a cone shape.|
|Built as tall as you like. Now decorate--I chose to drape my cone with spun sugar, but you could dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate.|
|Close-up of my spun sugar. Next time, I'll formulate a plan. I like things a little neater.|
|Ready for eating. How to serve? Hand your guests a cake knife and just let them go at it. :-)|
|The croquembouche . . . being devoured. Yes, it is hollow in the middle.|
Croquembouche (pronounced croak-em-boosh. I think.)
Well, it's done. I put the croquembouche together and served it to my book club. To rave reviews.
You always learn things when you attempt something, of course. Next time I'll not have any squat cream puffs (though not many of those went into the croquembouche--I made about three times too many, so ended up delivering them to my neighbor across the street. God bless them for eating all my experiments!)
Why did some of them come out squat? Because one batch of my pate e choux (pronounced pat-a-shoo) had too many eggs in it. Plus, I didn't let it cool enough before adding the eggs. Like I said, we live and learn.
I filled the cream puffs with a chocolate filling and a kirsch-flavored vanilla pastry cream. I used that long Wilton nozzle and a pastry bag.
I took a cue from Julia Child and started my croquembouche in an angel food cake pan, well oiled with a tasteless salad oil. Once I had built the base structure to the top of the pan, I simply turned it onto the serving plate and kept building from there. I did run out of sugar and have to melt a new batch (caramel--boiled sugar--serves as the "glue" to hold the puffs together, so you need quite a bit of it. But you can use any left over as spun sugar decoration.)
I went a little crazy covering the finished croquembouche with spun sugar. Next time I'll make a plan for all that sparkly golden goodness.
But it was fun, simple, and not too difficult.
So here are my pictures--and it served over a dozen, with plenty for the ladies to take home, too.
Very easy to make, especially if you spread the work over a few days. Make the puffs one day and freeze. Make the filling another day and refrigerate. Finally, a couple of hours before serving, fill the puffs and assemble the croquembouche. You're done!