This is a fun dessert. It can be made in any size. Many years ago my sister-in-law had it as her wedding cake and that was my first exposure to Croquembouche - "crunch in the mouth". The last time I made it was for my new millenium New Year's eve party.
This is May's Daring Bakers Challenge. I don't have a large group that can help me eat this so I have designed mini Croquembouche. They are single serving desserts. The baked and unfilled profiteroles can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for 2 or 3 months.
The filling can be anything your mind can conceive but it must be firm and not too runny. You want the little choux puffs to remain crispy. They are 'glued' together with sugar syrup and then spun sugar embellishes the creation.
I have found my own filling recipe. The Sicilian profiterole filling sounds so yummy. A profiterole is the little cream puff. An arrangement of profiteroles is a croquembouche. And I am using the paté à choux recipe provided with this challenge.
Note: Candied angelica is very difficult to find. Angelica is an herb and the stems are candied. They are a neon green in colour and very flavourful. I just omitted it completely.
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.
Sicilian Profiteroles from Valvona & Crolla: A Year at an Italian Table
- 1/4 c angelica
- 1/4 c candied orange peel
- 1/4 c candied citron peel
- Marsala, for soaking
- 1/2 c whipped cream
- 1 c fresh ricotta or cream cheese
- 1 tsp orange-flower water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Caster sugar, to taste
- Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
- Icing sugar, to dust
- Finely chop all the candied peel, place in a bowl and add enough Marsala to cover. Leave to soak for 1 hour.
- Place the cream, ricotta, orange-flower water and vanilla extract in a bowl. Add the soaked peel and Marsala and mix well with a fork. Add caster sugar to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary.
Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)¾ cup water
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 425◦F. 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.
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 (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in cold water, gently smooth out 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).
Grease a baking sheet that has been run under a stream of cold water: the steam produced during baking will help the pastry to rise.
Bake the choux at 425◦F degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 350◦F degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. You can poke a hole in each one with a skewer and that will allow the steam to be released and they will remain crisper.
Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
Putting it together:
Fill each little profiterole with the Sicilian cream filling by piping.
Prepare carmelized sugar and keep it melted on low on the stovetop. Dip each profiterole in the melted sugar and place on the plate. Add each one in the same manner to form a circle. Add the next row of profiterole on top of the first and make the circle smaller. Repeat until you have made a cone shaped figure. Eventually it will be a cone of profiteroles.