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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Croquembouche!!

I was on SUCH a good roll with my posts! And then life caught up with me =P. Work, uni, social commitments....but it means I have so much to post! So hopefully i can get the ball rolling again =)

A couple of weeks ago my parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary!! And so my brother and I decided to throw them a party, as you do haha. It ended up being a massive shindig and we didn't get to sleep till the wee hours of the morning due to drunken dancing antics....not by the youngans might I add haha.

For this epic occasion I didn't just want to make an ordinary boring cake. I wanted to make something unique and special! So, I decided to make a CROQUEMBOUCHE! Yes, that's right. I attempted the Zumbo tower of terror.

Putting little iced flowers on my masterpiece!
I bought Adriano Zumbo's book late last year and I've been dying to try some of the awesome creations in there.

And this one turned out OK! I actually did a test run a couple of days before since I had never made choux pastry or crème pâtissière before. Based on this test, we decided it might be better to fill the pastry balls with whipped cream, cover them with chocolate and then attach them together with caramel (Sri Lankan's have a bit of a thing for eclairs). Sorta like a giant eclair tower! I used a foam cone as my scaffolding since I didn't think I'd get that much use out of a croquembouche cone, and my freehand attempt at building one on my first attempt didn't go so well haha. I ended up making the puffs the night before, just to give me a bit of time to make the cream, fill them and assemble them on the day. I also made a half batch as a back up =) (which I actully ended up using)

The biggest problem we had was actually serving the goddamn thing! Unfortunately the toffee got stuck to the al-foil underneath, so I had to pick off bits of foil before serving. But main thing was that it tasted heaps good! I mean, you can't really beat chocolate eclairs right ;).

Since I used cream to fill the puffs, it melted a bit when I put the hot caramel on, which you can see in the pics, its leaking out in places =P.

Oh and another thing! I burnt my fingers like a bajillion times omg. Painful.

I even tried to do the spun sugar that covers it, but I really think you need a balloon whisk for that, my fork just threw threads of sugar all over the floor, and my dad (who had already started drinking by then), was clumsily scrubbing at the floor while guests were arriving haha. I opted to put little iced flowers on it instead of edible violets.

It was pretty fun to make, I was slightly delirious by the time I finished it, partly because I couldn't believe I had done it, and I was on a massive sugar high =P. I got so many compliments and "did-you-really-make-that?!?"s, it was quite flattering haha. I can assure you a store bought specially made one probs looks much neater than mine, but I reckon mine was OK for a first attempt =).


Main thing for me was that everyone loved it, especially my parents =).

Ok so I'm gonna post my modified version of it, but I'll provide a link to the original as well. You may find that you will need to make more cream or caramel, depending on how many puffs you make and how much you fill them etc. I pretty much played it by ear and made more as I needed it =).


Croquembouche
Recipe adapted from Zumbo by Adriano Zumbo

Ingredients
Choux pastry
320g water
400g milk
16g sugar
16g salt
300g butter
400g flour
612g eggs, lightly beaten 
 
Whipped Cream
3 cups thickened cream
9 tbsp powdered sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
 
Chocolate
600g dark chocolate, melted
 
Caramel
660g caster sugar
200g water
260g glucose

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees celsius convection. Lightly grease 4 oven trays and set aside. Combine the butter with water, sugar, milk & salt in a large heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and using a wooden spoon quickly beat in the flour. Return to the heat and continue beating until the mixture comes together and leaves the side of the pan. Cook, beating over low heat for 1-2 minutes to cook flour. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Enlisting some muscle for the mixing stage =P
2. Transfer to a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture to release any more heat. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well between each addition until all the eggs have been added and the mixture is thick and glossy. Beat for a few more minutes, or until thickened.


3. Spoon the mixture, in batches, into a piping bag fitted with a 1.25-1.5cm nozzle. Cover remaining pastry with cling film. Pipe mixture onto trays about 3cm x 2cm high leaving room for spreading. Bake for 25-30 minutes, in batches, or until firm and hollow when tapped. Transfer puffs to wire racks.


4. For the whipped cream, In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like. (NOTE: To stablise the cream, dissolve about 1 tbsp of gelatin in 1/2 cup boiling water and gradually beat into the cream)

5. Put whipped cream into a piping bag with a nozzle less than 1cm. Poke a small hole in the base of each puff and fill with cream (NOTE: you may need to poke the holes beforehand with a blunt end, jiggle it around to break down the pastry bits inside just to make sure there is room to fill the puffs with cream).


6. For the chocolate coating, simplt place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, microwave on high for 1 minute intervals, stirring in between to make sure the chocolate melts evenly. Dip each puff into the chocolate to cover the surface. Leave to harden.


7. For the caramel, combine water and sugar in a saucepan until it boils add glucose, and cook until caramel in colour. Remove from the heat and dip the base of the pan in a bowl of water to cool slightly. 

8. To assemble, oil the croquembouche cone (OR like me, cover a foam cone with baking paper/aluminim foil).  Dip the sides of the puff balls in the toffee one at a time and place around the base of the cone. Continue adding balls until the cone is covered.

(IF USING A CROQUEMBOUCHE CONE) - 9. Place a small amount of caramel on the base plate for the croquembouche. Grasp croquembouche gently and lift from the cone and place on the base.

10. Re-heat the remaining toffee then dip two forks back to back in it. Spin toffee around the Croquembouche. Decorate with iced flowers/violets.

ET VOILA!! CROQUEMBOUCHE!

Ignore the melting cream haha

Congrats to my gorgeous parents!! Enjoy =D xx

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