Croquembouche: The dessert that “combines elegant traditionalism with an imaginative modern approach to the elaborate form of styling.”*
It’s not quite fair to say that Croquembouche is simple, but the effort-to-reward ratio is off the charts, thus making the endeavor well worth the undertaking.
Croquembouche’s translation, basically “crunch in the mouth,” is spot on. The tower of lemony cream puffs is bound by crackly caramel. It’s dessert as finger food: pluck the pastries one by one until the tower is toppled.
Croquembouche‘s non-negotiables are the small cream puffs, the tall profile and the crackly caramel. Liberties can be taken with the filling, most often with a starting point of a pastry cream or custard base. SpecD is an adherent of the cream filling school, with our proprietary Juila Child-blessed innovation: lacing the cream with shards of hard candy for a crunch infusion.
As mentioned earlier (and often), over the course of a memorable tête-à-tête with Julia Child I shared my mom’s idea of adding pulverized peppermint candies to the filling of a Christmas croquembouche. “Oh, that sounds lovely!” she declared in full throttle Julia Child alto-vibrato-profundo lilt.
For this Easter doozy pulverized sour lemon drop crumbs laced the filling with a light citrusy pucker. And the little yellow flowers are simple enough: pinch out petals from a ball of colored fondant or marizpan and embellish in an attractive manner.
While these tools aren’t absolutely necessary, they do help a lot in achieving croquembouche perfection:
Pastry bag and decorating set to fill the cream puffs (one could use the plastic-baggie-with-a-corner-snipped-off technique)
Copper caramel pan (copper is the best heat conduit but any decent small sauce pot will serve)
Sculpting tools for marzipan and icing decorations (a grooved press makes the icing flower petals dressier)
Croquembouche mold (mother had a St. Louis craftsman make this beauty for me; this links to a metal form on Amazon; alternately the cream puff pile could be free-form, albeit with less sky-high results)
Click here for the recipe and instructions for Croquembouche with sour lemon cream.
*This quote is from Blow Dry starring a mincing, bleach blonde Hugh Bonneville, Heidi Klum, Josh Hartnett and Natasha Richardson. It refers to the “Hair by Night” portion of the British National Hair Dressing Competition.Print This Post