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Old 11-14-2007, 08:35 AM   #1
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I'm Making Croquembouche for the First Time

It is my 2 year anniversary with my boyfriend today, and since he lives an hour away in another city where he just launched a financial services product (That rocks... If you're an Aussie and have super send me a PM and I'll give you more details, you may find it very interesting), we've decided to celebrate this weekend, when he's free. I'm spending saturday morning cooking proscuitto based entrees, chilling champagne, making Osso Bucco and Risotto Milanese, but the main focus of the meal will be dessert, where I'm hoping to make something rather scary:

Croquembouche

Every recipe I've read indicates that it's a challenging feat for even advanced bakers. I have a not so great oven, a tendancy to measure badly and time to overcome. I can't make it friday night because we're going into the city, so I'm making the profiteroles tomorrow and storing them for two days. I'm making a few flavours of pastry cream on saturday, filling the profiteroles and assembling the thing. I'm thinking of cheating and only going 4 layers high, but all the premonitions of doom about the recipe have me very nervous indeed. AND I'll be trying to keep it a secret from my partner, by asking him to stay out of the kitchen.

I'll see you the other side, either the Imhotep of the pastry world, or stark raving mad.

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Old 11-14-2007, 11:39 AM   #2
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I've never made profiteroles, but I've worked with choux pastry lots of times, and it isn't really difficult. Just follow the instructions carefully.
You would do well to get an oven thermometer so you can be sure to get the right temperature going for your pastries.
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Old 11-15-2007, 05:05 AM   #3
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Quadlex, my mum made one for my Grade 7 French class end of year party. (She likes to show off - everyone else brought shop-made crossants and chocolate sandwiches!) Can't remember how many layers it had but it was probably about 18" high. She used a Margaret Fulton recipe (the big yellow book). Doing the choux balls was very easy, get the oven hot so they rise quickly and then turn down so they don't burn after a few minutes. If you are using a gas oven, check part way through the cooking process as you may need to turn the tray around as not all gas ovens cook evenly. (I know mine doesn't. Not good for choux pastry.) These don't get glazed so you can't afford for them to be over cooked in terms of colour, or unevenly coloured. Think mum only filled them with whipped cream as she isn't keen on other fillings and she made more than she needed for school. Messing around with the toffee I think produced some swearing from the kitchen - not her favourite medium. Other than that the drive to school with it on my lap was the worst part of the dish. As Constance says, choux pastry isn't hard to work with, although some people will tell you otherwise.

I have never used a thermometer with choux pastry but have always made sure the oven is well and truly pre-heated and monitored. (My standard party dessert was mini-eclairs with different glazes, so I used to make them pretty regularly but haven't done so for about seven years.)

Think of this as more of a construction job and it isn't so intimidating. And keep it simple with the fillings. The real beauty of this dish is that if your puffs don't turn out quite as you plan, you can always turn them into profiteroles with just some chocolate sauce on top.

Good luck!
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Old 11-15-2007, 07:11 AM   #4
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Choux is fun! One of my mother's signature recipes is profiteroles so I was brought up with a devil may care attitude to choux pastry: consequently it always works....my sister blessed me with the same attitude to souffle!

In actual fact I think this (which I've made before) is a great pud because, as you say, it can be attacked in stages, contrusted a little earlier in the day and is beautiful and impressive. I guess you'll enjoy it, and far from going mad will gain tremendous confidence from this endevour. and your bloke will be chuffed too!
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Old 11-15-2007, 07:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lulu View Post
Choux is fun! One of my mother's signature recipes is profiteroles so I was brought up with a devil may care attitude to choux pastry: consequently it always works....my sister blessed me with the same attitude to souffle!
Sounds like your mum and mine went to the same school of thought!
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Old 11-16-2007, 07:24 AM   #6
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Well, the profiteroles worked well. The first batch was too light, the second batch mis-shapen, but all in all I've got enough to work with.

Tomorrow I'll fill them and assemble (Thinking Bailies Irish Cream, Bortrytis Semillion, and coffee flavoured pastry cream) and decorate with Pashmak and possibly a ribbon. And take pictures ^_^
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Old 11-16-2007, 07:30 AM   #7
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Can't get a fix in my head for the flavour of the bortrytis flavouring but the other two fillings sound nice. What flavour pashmak? Not bothering with the toffee strands?

Looking forward to the photos.
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Old 11-16-2007, 09:18 PM   #8
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No, spun sugar sounded like far too much effort. So the Pashmak will have to do. It's Chocolate flavoured, my partner's favourite.

Bortrytis Semillion is a *very* sweet white wine, produced from grapes infected with the Bortrytis virus (The name means "Noble Rot"). It's very complex, very sweet and very delicious white style, and the brand I'm using is, I think, the best (De Bortoli Noble One). It'll lend complexity, tartness and sweetness to the cream.
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Old 11-17-2007, 12:57 AM   #9
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Don't think I have had the De Bortoli one but I have tried several dessert wines in the past. They make quite a few dessert wines over here. Have had a couple in the past that were very nice drops but still having trouble "picturing" the taste of it on my tongue. (Having just had a late lunch of chicken sushi probably doesn't help!)

I think the chocolate pashmak was my preferred one of the three that I tried too. Very good inventive "cheat" Quadlex!
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