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.
I loved making the profiteroles and the creme patisserie; just seeing the profiteroles all puffed up and crunchy when taken out of the oven and tasting the silky pastry cream gave me a sense of achievement. I made the vanilla pastry cream so can't wait to make a dessert with the chocolate version. I used melted Callebaut white chocolate to drizzle over the profiteroles - it came out a bit chunky looking as I put my "work of art" in the fridge overnight.
I bought a 6-inch foam cone at an arts and crafts shop for a few dollars, so did not bother with making a cardboard cone, then I used toothpicks to attach the pastries to the cone. I did not enjoy this part so much - certainly need a lot of practice as it came out a bit wonky looking.
I took the filled pastries (without the cone!) to work - so true what the recipe says; this dessert must be eaten fresh; by the time we were ready to consume them they were a bit soggy. Next time I'll make them (or cream puffs) at home, for guests at home.
Here's the main recipe section:
For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch) 1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk 2 Tbsp. cornstarch 6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar 1 large egg 2 large egg yolks 2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter 1 Tsp. Vanilla
Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28) ¾ cup (175 ml.) water 6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter ¼ Tsp. salt 1 Tbsp. sugar 1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour 4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Preparing batter: Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.
Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.
As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.
It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
Piping: Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.
Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
Baking: Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.
Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.Filling: When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.