Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Pièce Montée (Croquembouche)

I was so excited when this challenge was revealed: cream puffs were a favourite childhood treat for my brother and I. No trip to Cantor's Bakery was complete without a giant cream puff. I have made them and éclairs, and even a Gâteau St-Honoré, but I had never assembled a croquembouche. It was tempting to jump in right away, as I had all the ingredients on hand, but I decided to wait and make it for my birthday. Of course, this also meant I could procrastinate a bit, which is always appreciated. 
One of the best things about this dessert is that it doesn't include chocolate! I decided to fill the puffs with vanilla pastry cream and passion fruit curd. For the glue, I used caramel. I wanted to make some spun sugar, but the day was a bit grey and drizzly, so I skipped it, though my first batch of caramel did spontaneously turn into spun sugar. I didn't have time at that point, as I didn't want to be late for my own brunch.
The pâte à choux was really easy to work with, and I got 35 puffs from the recipe given. I used about 30 to make the croquembouche, as that's all I could fill using the 2 batches of filling I made. I used the challenge recipe for the vanilla pastry cream, and the recipe for the passion fruit curd comes from Heavenly Cakes, by Rose Levy Berenbaum. The vanilla pastry cream was the perfect texture, but the passion fruit curd was runny, which made for some messy eating. You can find the recipe for this, as well as the rest of the challenge recipes at the end of the post.
I dipped the filled puffs in the molten caramel by hand, burning myself a number of times. Only one blister, though, which is not too bad, considering I dipped them top and bottom. It was quite easy to build the structure, as the caramel was like super glue. The croquembouche sat for a few hours while we ate our brunch, and the caramel got a bit too chewy in the humidity, but it was still delicious. I'll definitely be making this one again! Check out our host Cat's site here, and see the slideshow of creations from the Daring Bakers here.



Blog-checking lines: The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.


Recipes after the jump!

Passion fruit curd (from Heavenly Cakes, by Rose Levy Berenbaum)


Now, Rose is incredibly precise in her recipes, which is often helpful, but some of the copious details just seem like nit-picking to me, and would take longer to type. I have simplified this recipe slightly. Don't worry--it's still wonderful!


Makes about 1 cup 


3 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup passion fruit puree (fresh or frozen)
pinch salt


Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and whisk until blended. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, scraping the sides of the pan, until thickened. The curd will change from translucent to opaque and coat the spatula. Don't allow it to boil, and remove it from the heat briefly if it threatens to. When ready, the curd should pool thickly on its surface when dropped from the spatula. Strain into a bowl, cool a bit, then cover with plastic and refrigerate. Apparently it keeps for 3 weeks. I can only imagine...


Here is an illustrated PDF of the challenge recipes for the pâte à choux, pastry cream, and caramel, all of which I used and can highly recommend.

47 comments:

Valerie said...

Passion fruit curd! I think I would have eaten that up by the spoonful. Your pâte à choux are the perfect shape and size, well done! Happy belated birthday! ;)

Little Miss Cupcake said...

Yum, passion fruit curd! This looks divine. Glad you enjoyed the challenge and happy belated birthday!

chef_d said...

The picture with the passionfruit curd running out of the cream puff is soooo mouthwatering. Great job!

natalia said...

ciao Mary ! i'm still with only the puffs and the custards ready but this version seems wonderful !

Cherine said...

Wow!! this is mouthwatering!!

Eyes Bigger Than Belly said...

That looks awesome!!! Your caramel is absolutely perfect - you can almost SEE the crunch! I'm so jealous!! :) lol

Caroline said...

Wow, that looks amazing!

Poires au Chocolat said...

Oh yum - passion fruit curd sounds amazing. Looks gorgeous too!

Also, I've been meaning to ask - where did you get the stamp for your cookies in your header?

Suzler said...

Mm, I've become quite addicted to fruit curds lately, so that sounds beautiful. Gorgeous croquembouche too. I agree that you can almost see the crunch - I have an overwhelming urge to bite into a crunchy profiterole now!

Belated Happy Birthday!

Ruth H. said...

Your caramel drenched choux looks divine! I want to reach through the screen and taste one! Amazing work on this challenge. The passion fruit curd, caramel and blackberry combination is mouthwattering!! Thank you for sharing!

Jennifurla said...

Your filling sounds divine, lovely job

Katrina said...

Ooh, I love the look of yours drowning in the caramel!

shelley c. said...

Only one blister for all that hot caramel is pretty impressive! :) Your cream puffs look delicious, and your fillings sound absolutely nummy. :) Great job on the challenge!

innBrooklyn said...

that looks so tasty! i'm sorry about the burns, i got one too, and they really aren't pleasant. but totally worth it for the delicious caramel!!

Baking Addict said...

Passion fruit curd sounds delicious. I want to eat yours off the screen!! Do you not like chocolate?

tease-spoon of sugar said...

Oh, wow! Yours looks absolutely mouth-watering! Even though I like everything better with chocolate, yours looks amazing without. Great job!

Lauren said...

It's gorgeous Mary! I love the structure and the blackberries - yum! Happy Birthday :)

maybelle's mom said...

I too think the exclusion of chocolate is great. Love your use of passionfruit

Jeanne said...

Happy birthday! Excellent work on your croquembouche, and the passion fruit curd sounds lovely. I agree, that caramel can definitely be used as a substitute for super glue!

Curried Cupcakes said...

Beautiful caramel sauce! I like that you made a different filling, the passion fruit sounds delicious.

Anonymous said...

Love the filling and I had the same problem...a little runny but fun and messy to eat. Nice job!

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

Oups delete anonymous above please Love the filling and I had the same problem...a little runny but fun and messy to eat. Nice job!

Cakelaw said...

I love tha golden caramel - even though it burned you, it looks fabulous. I chickened out and did chocolate instead. Great job.

bakingrush said...

It looks so good I can almost taste it!

A Canadian Foodie said...

Happy Birthday, Mary! What a challenge in this warm weather. Good for you... these look absolutely puckeringly puffily perfect!
:)
Valerie

Jencrafted said...

What an awesome croquembouche! My attempt failed....I was rushing for time, doing ten things at the same time and forgot to take the puffs out of the oven. They were burnt. I guess I'd have to try again tomorrow morning and I'm hoping they'll turn out as beautiful as yours.

Debora said...

I love the filling and the caramel covering the whole profiterol. Very nicely done! Congratulations ;)

Renata said...

Mary, first of all, Happy Birthday, second, congrats on your challenge, that passion fruit curd must be delicious and your puffs puffed perfectly! I'm sure it was a huge success! Thanks a lot for your kind comment on my post!

Trissa said...

Well done - gorgeous caramelization you've got there.

msmeanie said...

Beautiful job! Passionate fruit pastry cream sounds delicious and unique. Happy (belated) Birthday too!

nikki said...

Vanilla, passionfruit, and caramel is a perfect blend of sweet and sour cream. Love the caramel drips too!

Marcellina said...

Passionfruit curd! I must try that! It sounds so delicious. And you croquembouche looks beautiful with all the caramel drizzling down. Great work!

crumbsoflove said...

I simply love passion fruit! Great job

Jenny said...

Gorgeous work! Your caramel looks a-MA-zing.

Laura said...

Your croquembouche looks yummi, I never tried passion fruit, here in Romania it is a rare fruit but I am really courious about it.

culinography said...

Passion fruit curd? I'll be that was amazing! Beautifully done!!

anjelikuh said...

OOO the glistening caramel looks greaaaat! and I hope you had a wonderful birthday!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A gorgeous croquembouche! So delicious looking and tempting!

Cheers,

Rosa

Tadeja said...

Beautiful! The caramel on your croquembuche looks divine! :)

Trissa said...

Wow - the first picture is stunning! Well done on getting only one blister - I was too chicken that I decided to use a pair of tongs to coat the choux!

Lisa Michelle said...

Oh, Mary, your croquembouche is golden 'gorgeousness'. It's so funny how much we had in common with this challenge. One..the humidity 'goo'ed' the caramelized sugar (some of my puffs keeled over and fell off - three times!). Two, burnt fingers..I have 4 blisters and the first photo in each of our entries is a closeup shot LOL Ok...most probably had similar deals, but your the first I've seen where I nodded my head and said 'YEP, YEP, YEP'.

Again, beautiful croquembouche and I love the molten caramel filling!

Catherine said...

The first thing I though when I came across your site was that I had died and gone to heaven!
Everything here looks beautiful and delicious!
Cheers~

Trendsetters said...

wow..that is one mouthwatering reciep

Mimi said...

I'm all for the passion fruit curd. Your tower of cream puffs looks perfectly delicious.
Mimi

Marty said...

Fantastic! And the passion fruit curd filling is a great idea to cut through the sweetness.

Also, I like the name of your blog! I apologise for not visiting sooner since I've been reading your comments on the DB forum.

Natalie... said...

Mmmm wow your croquembouche looks gorgeous and so soaked in yummy caramel!

Pearl said...

what an interesting variation. so much work! but mouth watering.