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Croquembouche

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This gorgeous stacked confection is the traditional wedding cake in France. Its name means "crunch in the mouth," which ordinarily talks about the crisp caramel that covers the airy choux pastry. These pretty crispy buns are traditionally filled with vanilla pastry cream but you can easily use chocolate flavored pastry cream or other delightful combinations.

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: A stacked confection

Ingredients:

  • Choux Pastry

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Chocolate Pastry Cream Filling

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preparation:

Choux Pastry

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the butter and water into a large saucepan over medium low heat and melt the butter. Turn the heat up to medium and bring the butter and the water to a gentle simmer. Add the flour in one quick measure and stir to a thick paste with a large wooden spoon. Beat over the heat for at least a minute and then remove from heat to let cool down to room temperature.
  3. When the batter is cool add the eggs, one at a time, beating well before each addition to incorporate completely. It will not be easy to beat the choux batter but when you are finished it will be a very thick glossy batter.
  4. Spoon choux batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain large nozzle. Sprinkle or spray a small amount of water onto two baking sheets and pipe about 25 rounds, about golf ball sized with plenty of space between each round. Bake for about 15 minutes until they are plump and golden. Remove trays and turn off the oven.
  5. While pastry is warm make a small hole in each base with a sharp paring knife and place them back on the sheets. Place the trays back in the oven (turned off) for about 5 more minutes in order to create crisp insides as well. Transfer pastry to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Pastry Cream Filling

  1. Place the milk and chocolate in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stirring continuously until it is melted and simmering. When the chocolate mixture is simmering take it off the heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk or beat the egg yolks and sugar together until it is very pale and fluffy. This will take about 10 minutes. Beat in the flour then very slowly and then beat in the cooled chocolate mixture.
  3. Transfer the mixture back into the saucepan and place pan back over medium heat. Cook pastry cream for about five minutes stirring constantly until the pastry cream is glossy and thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool covered with plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap down so it rests directly on the top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool.

Assembly

  1. Spoon the cooled pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Carefully push the tip into each bun through the hole and squeeze until the bun is neatly filled with pastry cream.
  2. In order to stack the buns you can either use caramel or melted chocolate. Dip the bases of the buns into a little bit of caramel and allow the excess to drip back into the bowl. Stack the buns into a pyramid shape and let the stack firm up and then decorate. Depending on the time of year and humidity you can make spun sugar to wrap delicately around your pyramid or drizzle the stack with melted chocolate. You can adorn your croquembouche with gum paste flowers, fondant ribbons or other cake decorating elements.

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