Your world is a garden I am waiting to see
Where the sun never sets with your smile laid bare
And time surrenders sweetly to the ebb and the flow
Show me the way through the lavender bushes
All purple and fragrant and vibrant to touch
Our fingers entwined through the long graceful grass
We’ll settle on blankets and lie on our backs
Imagine our days all tickles and giggles and sweet raspberry ripples
My daughter, my blossom, my bright summer’s night
Guide me here, hold me there, keep me close by your side
My sweet little garden where love always grows
The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.
For those of you who dont know, Croquembouche literally means crunch in the mouth and is often served as a wedding cake in France. It is a high cone made from profiteroles, that are filled with pastry cream, and then covered in chocolate and sometimes bound with caramel.
The recipe has three main parts: the choux pastry, the pastry cream and the glaze that is used to decorate (and mount) it. While you can use a cardboard conical structure to build your structure or use toothpicks as an aid, it is relatively easy to assemble it using just the baked pate a choux as the main building blocks and the glaze as the glue.
• several baking sheets
• parchment paper
• a whisk
• a pastry brush (for the egg wash)
• a pastry bag and tip (a plain tip or no tip is best for piping the puff pastry; you can use a plain or star tip to fill the puff pastry with the cream)
• a flat surface such as a baking sheet or cake board/stand on which to assemble your croquembouche
• items you may want to use to decorate
Vanilla Pastry Cream
1 cup (225 ml) whole milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
6 Tbsp (100 g) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp (30 g) unsalted butter
1 Tsp Vanilla
Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking. Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla. Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
Pate a Choux (makes about 28)
¾ cup (175 ml) water
6 Tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 425f/220c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.
Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip. Pipe choux about 1 inch-part onto the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high and about 1 inch wide. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
Bake the choux until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350f/180c and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced). Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning until completely melted.
When you are ready to assemble your croquembouche, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet.
Dip the top of each choux in your chocolate glaze and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. When you have finished the design, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate.
Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!
This post is also a part of the Writing Workshop and I chose the prompt Summer.