A TRADITIONAL FRENCH CROQUEMBOUCHE
Croquembouche comes from the French “croquant” meaning crackling and “bouche” for mouth. Thus croquembouche refers to the crackling in your mouth when eating this traditional dessert. The croquembouche is often the dessert at a French wedding. It features cream puffs made from scratch. However, with our frozen mini puffs, this time consuming step is eliminated.
The basic process is to prepare caramel syrup, coat the puffs with some of the syrup and then arrange them to form a pyramid. It is then decorated with “angel hair” spun from the same caramel syrup.
Making a croquembouche is really not difficult. However, if you have never worked with caramel, you may wish to make a batch before making your croquembouche. If you’d like to practice, start with the recipe in Step One and go to Step Three until you are comfortable with the caramel. Then start over.
4 dozen Van Diermen Dutch Mini Cream Puffs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
Powdered sugar (optional)
STEP ONE: PREPARATION
4 dozen Van Diermen Dutch Mini Cream Puffs will make a croquembouche about 8-10” high that fits on a dinner plate. Individual croqs can be made with just a few puffs and are very easy to assemble. Place the puffs you will need on a plate, unrefrigerated. When this is done, prepare the caramel.
In a small sauce pan combine the granulated sugar and water. Use a pan that will allow you to see the caramel color. Bring to a boil, swirling the pan until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Boil on high heat until the syrup turns a very pale honey color (about 4-5 minutes). Immediately remove the pan from the heat and put it into a bowl with water to stop the syrup from further darkening. The syrup is hotter than boiling water. Be careful. Don’t allow children to work with it.
STEP TWO: CONSTRUCTION
To make the croq, “glue” the puffs together using the caramel as your glue so they can be stacked into a cone shape. With a pastry brush or small knife dab each puff with caramel on the sides. Place puffs in a circle on the serving plate using the painted sides to stick them to each other. Fill in the circle with more puffs, again gluing them together. Make each additional layer smaller than the one before and end with a single puff on top.
STEP THREE: DECORATION
Dip a fork in the caramel and with an upward motion drizzle the caramel lightly on the sides of the croq. If the caramel won’t drizzle in thin strands it will need to be heated. Do not cover the croq completely, just enough to look attractive. If the croq will not be served within 30 minutes, refrigerate at this point. Then 30 minutes before serving proceed with the angel hair decoration.
Reheat the caramel in the pan until it just begins to darken. Now let it cool so that it will barely drizzle when a fork is dipped into it. Dip the fork into the caramel and let it drip as much as it will. When it stops, pull the edge of the caramel remaining on the fork and it will form a thin thread like a spider’s web. Note: if the syrup is dripping it is too hot to touch. When it stops dripping, it can be pulled to form the thread. Arrange the caramel threads all over the croq until it is circled with a “cloud” of angel’s hair. Decorate the plate with fresh flowers and dust the croq with powdered sugar just before serving if you wish.