Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make piece montee or crocquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Krumps Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Maligeri.
A crocquembouche is a Franch cake often served at weddings, baptisms and first communions. It is a high cone of profiteroles filed with cream, sometimes dipped in chocolate bound with caramel and usually decorated with threads of caramel, chocolate, flowers or ribbons. The name comes from the French words croque en bouche meaning crunch in mouth.
I was so excited about this challenge. I remember looking at cookbooks when I was a little girl and my admareing to crocquembouche. My first idea was to make a vanilla creme patissiere crocquembouche with chocolate as a "glue" and decorated with some strawberries.The idea was to make a few smaller crocquambouches since there is only two of us and there were no special occasion to make a big one. But I forgot about my " mother in low" birthday (really nice thing to do , right?). Anyway we had a family lunch on sunday and I brought crocquambouche as a gift. Since the crocquambouche had to endure a trip to the party I desided to go with caramel as a glue because I reckon it will bear the trip better.And it did.
The crocquembouche was a huge success.The thing I liked the most about crocquembouche is that it doesen t insist upon any dessert plates. We all gather around it and just pluck pices of it. I will definitely make it again if for nothing else for my birthday.
For the Vanilla Creme Patissiere:
225 ml milk
2 tbsp. cornstarch
100 g sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
30 g butter
1 vanilla bean
Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a soucepan and vanilla bean ; bring to a boil; remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into cornstarch mixture.Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whising 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 until the cream thickens and comes to a boil.Remov from the heat and beat in the butter and take out the vanilla bean.Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface.Chill immediately until ready to use.
Pate a choux
175 ml water
85 g butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp sugar
125 g flour
Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in 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 sides of the pan.Transfer to a bowl and stir with wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
Transfer batter to a pastry beg fitted with a large open tip. Pipe choux .Bake the choux at 220 C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180 C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes. Remove to a rack and cool.
When you are ready to assemble your piece montee, 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 pper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated at this point while you make your glaze.
Hard caramel glaze:
225 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color.Use immediately.
Once you are rady to assemble your piece montee, dip the top of each choux in your glaze and start assembling on your cake plate. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up.