Croquembouche

July 2nd, 2009

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I was so inspired while watching MasterChef when Adriano Zumbo brought out a massive Croquembouche (a custard filled profiterole stack covered in toffee/caramel).

Hearing the crispy crunch as the contestants bite through the toffee covering layer, then seeing the thick custard and lovely fresh choux pastry… I just melted. I wished badly that I could be there trying one. (Maybe not competing – it seemed very stressful, with contestants burning their hands left, right and centre.)

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After such a good recommendation (of stress and burnings) – why wouldn’t I give it a go? 😛 Well I hoped that doing it at home without as much stress would allow the experience to be a good one.

I just needed a reason to make one, and what better than a “Welcome Home” dinner? (You would want to leave and come back every week if this was your reward for returning… or at least I would).

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Can I just say… this is truly the BEST, most FANTASTIC custard ever!!!! (sorry I didn’t get a photo that did it justice) The whole combination of choux pastry, custard and toffee was just amazing! I will definitely make this again, but next time I will be a bit more careful with the toffee…

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I made the quantities given on the MasterChef website (check out their video), and it ended up making around 180 profiteroles (8 trays worth) and enough custard to fill half of them, with enough toffee to coat those with custard. As we had so many pastry shells left over, we filled half of the remaining profiteroles with vanilla whipped cream and dipped the top in melted dark chocolate. For this reason I would suggest making half the quantity of profiteroles (or if you only want one small Croquembouche, make a quarter of the profiteroles and half of each the custard and toffee). Due to the excess in cooking, I ended up taking a small tower and some chocolate ones to work… those poor people 😛

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I found the toffee didn’t last very well for the next day, I’m not sure of the best way to store this overnight if you make it in advance, but I’m sure the custard could be made the day before, I’ve also heard the profiteroles can be made in advance… I’ll try and get back to you on what works….

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Croquembouche
Recipe from Adriano Zumbo on MasterChef Australia

Choux pastry:
425g Water
530g Milk
20g Sugar
20g Salt
400g Butter
530g Flour
16 Eggs

Pastry cream:
1300ml Milk
330g Eggs Yolks (around 18)
330g Sugar
130g Cornflour
130g Butter
2 Vanilla beans

Caramel:
660g Sugar
200g Water
260g Glucose

To make the pastry cream, place milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan. Heat gently until the milk almost boils. Remove from the heat, whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until thick and pale. Gradually whisk in the warm milk. Return mixture to same saucepan and stir over medium heat until the custard boils. Spread over a tray to cool rapidly. Cover the surface of the custard closely with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming, at 55°C transfer to a bowl and stir through butter and refrigerate to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees celsius convection. Lightly grease 4 oven trays and set aside. Combine the butter with water, sugar, milk & salt in a large heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and using a wooden spoon quickly beat in the flour. Return to the heat and continue beating until the mixture comes together and leaves the side of the pan. Cook, beating over low heat for 1-2 minutes to cook flour. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

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Transfer to a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture to release any more heat. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well between each addition until all the eggs have been added and the mixture is thick and glossy. Beat for a few more minutes, or until thickened.

Spoon the mixture, in batches, into a piping bag fitted with a 1.25-1.5cm nozzle. Cover remaining pastry with cling film. Pipe mixture onto trays about 3cm x 2cm high leaving room for spreading. Bake for 25-30 minutes, in batches, or until firm and hollow when tapped. Transfer puffs to wire racks.

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Put custard into a piping bag with a nozzle less than 1cm. Poke a small hole in the base of each puff and fill with custard.

For the caramel, combine water and sugar in a saucepan until it boils add glucose, and cook until caramel in colour. Remove from the heat and dip the base of the pan in a bowl of water to cool slightly. Grease a cake ring and place ring mould on a baking paper lined tray, pour enough caramel to coat the base 5mm. This is the base for the croquembouche. (I didn’t make this base)
Dip the puff bases in enough toffee to coat and place upside down on a tray lined with baking paper.

(I just put a bit of toffee on the base of the profiteroles in a line so I could still hold the edges of the base. I then dipped the top in the toffee and stacked the profiteroles making a cone shape, sticking them together with extra toffee if needed)

To assemble, oil the croquembouche cone. Dip the sides of the puff balls in the toffee one at a time and place around the base of the cone. Continue adding balls until the cone is covered.
Transfer the base for the croquembouche to a serving plate. Place a small amount of caramel on the base. Grasp croquembouche gently and lift from the cone and place on the caramel base.

Re-heat the remaining toffee then dip two forks back to back in it. Spin toffee around the Croquembouche. Decorate with violets.

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39 Comments

  1. Great minds think alike! I have this on my to make list this week but in a smaller version I think 🙂 Good to know that it works out so well too and great job with the spun toffee!

  2. Betty says:

    OMG! That looks amazing! So impressed! Yummo 😀

  3. Steph says:

    Wow that is awesome! I am so impressed, there’s something about the burning hot toffee that puts this into the Extreme dessert category. I love how you got the spun toffee around it and everything!

  4. Wow, that’s absolutely amazing. The spun toffee looks gorgeous, and the quantities are astonishing – you could serve it as a wedding cake at that size. Good to hear that it can be done without burns too!

  5. Beta Gal says:

    tres magnifique! You are a superstar- wish you still worked with me 😉

  6. Renee says:

    Your photos look great Anita – and I still think it was the best thing you have ever shared with us for morning tea!! I just loved it!

  7. That looks splendid! Good job 🙂

  8. awesome. well done. looks delicious! can i try some now?

  9. parita says:

    This is gorgeous, i can imagine creamy custard and caramel in my mouth…hmm heavenly! 180 profiteroles seems a lot to me, i guess i’ll use 1/4 recipe still it will give me 40…whoa!!

  10. isa says:

    Awesome! Looks fabulous! Love the way you arrange the spun toffee. May I have some?

  11. Karen says:

    I had the same debilitating cravings for croquembouche after Masterchef too! And yes it was the sound of the toffee crunch that did it!

    I can’t imagine that I’d have the kitchen space to make the full quantity! Even the sheer size of the ingredients is scary! More than a kilo’s worth of sugar, flour, butter and 34 eggs?! *gasp*

    But yours looks truly beautiful! I’m in awe.

  12. Trisha says:

    I cannot even begin to imagine the hard work and talent that is required to achieve such a creation! This is just fabulous – even more fabulous than the ones I see on tv (without naming names… hint hint). 🙂 Well done!

  13. Monique says:

    You did a great job! After making my little almonds I thought..try the spun toffee..but I looked at my kitchen and all the skewers and newspaper on the floor etc..and thought..not..
    Another time..and here you are.You did an excellent job..what a feat!

  14. Jeanne says:

    OMG, you made croquembouche just for a laugh?!? You amaze me! Looks fantastic though – you have very lucky colleagues 🙂

  15. zoe says:

    This is such beautiful presentation. I love the drizzle of the toffee on top. Well done!

  16. Zita says:

    O..my, towers of indulgence, now am craving for croquembouce after reading your post 🙂

  17. That is so spectacular! And to even attempt it… but you’ve certainly inspired me to give it a try. Fantastic work!

  18. You are one brave brave girl! What a massive task to set out in front of you. You made 180 profiteroles?? I am WAAYYY impressed! And the finished product looks so amazing. Great work!

  19. Sophia says:

    YOU are a master chef too! Oh man…this looks absolutely GLORIOUS!

  20. Forager says:

    Beautiful! So it can be done without burning all ten fingers then? 🙂

  21. Rilsta says:

    Wow, that is super impressive and it looks fantastic! I take my hat off to you for being able to make 180 profiteroles!

  22. I have always wanted to make a croquembouche and even tried making one last December, but I used nigella’s recipe and the profiteroles did not work out. Yours is a true inspiration!

  23. i love croquembouche (if i hadn’t eloped, i would have had one as my wedding cake)! so beautiful!!

  24. jasmine says:

    Your lucky, lucky colleagues! The sugar work looks lovely.

    j

  25. grace says:

    awesome! i LOVE that tower of balls of deliciousness, and the strings of toffee are incredible! i say that you definitely qualify as a master too. 🙂

  26. Cakelaw says:

    OMG – looks amazing!!! Your description makes me want to bite into it myself – that toffee crunch would be irresistable. Hope your fingers fared better than those of the contestants on Master Chef. (For the record, i find that toffee on cakes really doesn’t keep well overnight – it melts, so is best served the same day.)

  27. Paula says:

    This is unbelievable! You’ve done a beautiful job with the croquenbouches!

  28. WELL DONE! Anita, this is amazing. I was also thinking about making a croquembouche after watching Masterchef. I have made profiteroles before so wasn’t worried about that, but worried about burning my hands on that hot sugar! This is fantastic. You should be very pleased. 🙂 P.S. I have slotted croquembouche making until post-wedding, in case I get some serious burns. I’ve been known to be quite heavy handed in the kitchen and have burned myself seriously before (hand in bandages for 1+ month), so better to be safe than sorry! 😉

  29. Anita says:

    Hi Lorraine – Yay!!! I hope you find it as fantastically tasty as I did!!

    Hi Betty – Thanks 😛

    Hi Steph – Toward the end I started getting the hang of coating the profiteroles… so next time will be a heap easier.

    Hi Arwen – Yep.. I’m hoping to make it for Christmas… but am already craving it again. I didn’t burn myself too bad… maybe 3-4 times it was a bit too hot… but my fingers didn’t burn or peel or anything.

    Hi Beta Gal – Hehehe, Oh well.. maybe next time

    Hi Renee – Glad to hear it! Not sure if there will be to many times I bring something like that into work.

    Hi Alexandra – Thanks!

    Hi Simon – Hehe, sorry none left… you have to be fast 😛

    Hi Parita – Yeah… it was a lot, but didn’t seem as many as I was making them.

    Hi Isa – Hehehe…. I wish I could have sent some to everyone… but it’s not as good the day after… plus it would be difficult to send. 🙂

    Hi Karen – I had major cravings too, but now after trying it, my cravings are even worse!!!

    Hi Trisha – Thanks so much!!

    Hi Monique – Maybe once you’ve gotten over your almond ordeal, you can try this 🙂

    Hi Jeanne – Hahaha, no, I made it because of the cravings… and yes, I’ll have to remind my colleagues how lucky they are 😛

    Hi Zoe – 🙂 Thanks!

    Hi Zita – Well I hope if nothing else, you try the custard… mmmmm

    Hi Belle – Please do give it a go, it’s worth it

    Hi Maria – Yep… way too many profiteroles… next time hopefully I will get better quantities.

    Hi Sophia – Hehe, I think I would be a bit nervous and get mind blocks if I tried out for it.

    Hi Forager – Yep, it can be done without burning all fingers.. I think you just need a bit more time than the contestants had 😛

    Hi Rilsta – My hand started getting quite sore from all the piping….

    Hi Patricia – Well, time to try it again 🙂 Maybe check your oven, I had to turn mine to 180C fan forced and then they still only had to cook for 20 minutes not the 25-30 min suggested.

    Hi Steph – Maybe it’s time for a renewal of vows.. just for a croquembuche… 😉 or maybe for a birthday would be easier 😛

    Hi Jasmine – Thanks 🙂 They are very lucky – I hope they know it!

    Hi Grace – Heheh thanks for the nice comments!

    Hi Cakelaw – My fingers fared a heap better than theirs. And yes, the toffee didn’t last too well 🙁

    Hi Paula – Thanks!

    Hi Julia – Oh No!!! Well, maybe it’s better to postpone it. Good luck with it once your married – and good luck with your macarons!

  30. abby says:

    this looks amazing – it is on my to do list as well. i’m gonna have to give it a try!

  31. This is amazing. Can I be your new best friend?

  32. Jackie says:

    Please can you tell me if i make this the night before do i store in the fridge overnight and will it still be as yummy and also how do transport such a big cake?

  33. Eliduh says:

    How long did the croquembouche to make because I only have 90 minutes to make it.

  34. Anita says:

    Hi Eliduh
    It took a lot longer than 90 minutes for me. Although I wasn’t rushing or multi-tasking as much as I could have. If you have the chance I would recommend making the pastry cream the night before, or making a smaller quantity of everything.
    Good luck!
    Anita

  35. Saadiya says:

    Hi Anita! This was just what I was looking for after being inspired my Masterchef too… thanks for your tips, I am attempting it this weekend (at a quarter of the quantity though)!

  36. Linda says:

    OMG this looks amazing thank you so much for posting your ideas as I haven’t been game enough to try it. Can you please tell me without using the cone tin do you just stack them on top of each other so that its not hollow in the middle of the cone as such?? And roughly how many puffs are there in your croquembouche.

  37. Ianna says:

    Hi, even though I don’t know who you are, I really want to thank you. As you sorted out my questions. haha. I was thinking about how much does the Masterchef recipe made, and you told me. I was worrying how many egg gives 330g egg yolks and you told me. =D really thank you very much, you got your croquembouche, it’s now my turn to try and make them =)

  38. Ruth says:

    Anita, have just discovered your blog. WOW, so entertaining and informative! Auntie Google led me here whilst researching the possibility of making a crochembouche for my son’s wedding arvo tea prior to reception. But I think I’ll make more than one. There are 250 guests!! Fortunately the wedding isn’t until Feb ’13. Hey, have you got any great ideas for other French provincial inspired goodies?

  39. WONDERFUL SITE THank-you

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