Croquembouche challenge

I’ll happily admit it, I’m a MasterChef fan and although, sometimes I roll my eyes at how contrived it all seems, I still enjoy watching the contestants grow from great cooks to fantastic cooks. I enjoy watching them take on challenges that I fear would make me fall to the floor in a blubbering mess. With this in mind, I set about giving myself the challenge of the croquembouche. Da da dahhhhh…

DSC02992We were catching up with friends to celebrate two July birthdays, a ‘welcome to the world’ baby and pre-wedding party. Four celebrations that were worthy of a croquembouche challenge! The key to getting it done is definitely confidence although I did have my assistant Al on hand to help with the caramel dipping and the tower building which I was most afraid of.

DSC02988When piping the choux pastry, make a big effort to get them consistent in size as this will really help when assembling them in the cone. Our final product was a little lopsided but, thankfully, it did still stand up on its own.

I halved the MasterChef recipe as I didn’t fancy making 100 choux pastry balls and I hired a 42 cm cone from our local Kitchenware Megastore for $10 with a $200 refundable deposit.

DSC02982Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make 50 choux balls and enough creme patissiere to fill them. This amount was enough to feed 12 dessert hungry people.

Choux pastry:

  • 200 g butter
  • 10 g sugar
  • 265 ml full cream milk
  • 10 g salt
  • 210 ml water
  • 265 g plain flour
  • 8 eggs

Crème patissiere:

  • 540 ml full cream milk
  • 1 vanilla beans, split, seeds scraped
  • 220 g egg yolks (about 12 egg yolks)
  • 220 g caster sugar
  • 90 g corn flour
  • 90 g butter, diced, softened

Caramel:

  • 500 g white sugar
  • 150 ml water
  • 200 ml liquid glucose

Follow the MasterChef method here to make each of the individual components. Finally, don’t be afraid to take the caramel to the edge of burning. As some of you may know, burnt caramel is one of my favourite flavours plus this will ensure the whole dessert isn’t too sweet. DSC02993As I had to transport my creation to the party I didn’t decorate with the spun sugar.

IMG_2055This is me grinning like a Cheshire cat with my leaning tower of croquembouche. Yes, it was cold, hence my furry hat!

So, the moral of this story is, take the baking challenge, you might just surprise yourself.

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