- Active Time 1h 10m
- Total Time 4h
This impressive tower of cream puffs and caramelized sugar is well worth the effort. Be sure to start the dessert well in advance, taking advantage of all the useful do-aheads. Last minute assembly is a must for the caramelized sugar so allow several hours and have all ingredients ready.
- For Cream Puff Pastry:
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 large eggs
- For Vanilla Pastry Cream:
- 4 cup whipping cream
- 3 cups milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 16 egg yolks
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- For Caramelized Sugar:
- 4 - 5 cups sugar
- 1 - 1 1/4 cups corn syrup
- 1 - 1 1/4 cups water
FOR PUFF PASTRY: Bring the water and butter to a boil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and salt all at once and stir until the mixture pulls away from the sides forming a mass, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a heavy duty mixer fitted with a wire beater. Cool 5 minutes. With the mixer running at medium speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic and let stand until cooled completely, about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and brush several heavy large baking sheets with butter. Spoon half of the dough into a large pastry bag fitted with plain 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe 3/4 to 1-inch mounds onto baking sheets, spacing apart. Press the peaks down onto mounds using a moistened fingertip. Bake until golden and puffed, about 20 minutes. Turn off the oven. Pierce the side of each puff with a small sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Return the puff to the oven for 10 minutes to dry the interior. Repeat with the remaining pastry. (Puffs can be prepared ahead. Store in ziplock freezer bags at room temperature up to 2 days or freeze up to 2 weeks. If frozen, thaw carefully in single layer on paper towel-lined baking sheets to avoid any moist spots.)
FOR PASTRY CREAM: Bring the cream, milk and vanilla bean to boil in a heavy large saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, flour and salt to blend in a large bowl. Gradually beat in the hot cream mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and whisk over medium heat until the mixture becomes very thick and boils. Transfer to a bowl and remove the vanilla bean. Cool completely, stirring occasionally. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until well chilled. (Can be made up to 4 days ahead.)
Spoon some of the pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/4-inch tip. Insert the tip into each puff and fill with cream. Repeat until all the puffs are filled.
FOR CARAMELIZED SUGAR AND ASSEMBLY: Butter the inside of a croquembouche mold. Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a heavy medium saucepan. Boil without stirring until the mixture turns amber in color, brushing down any crystals that form on sides of pan with a moist pastry brush, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and place on a cold surface to stop the cooking. Using tongs, carefully dip a cream puff into the caramel and place in the mold. Repeat dipping and placing puffs into the mold, fitting puffs evenly onto sides of the mold, forming concentric circles until all the caramel is used. If the caramel begins to harden, reheat briefly over medium heat to liquefy.
Repeat the process for caramel as necessary. When the sides are evenly coated with puffs, fill the center with the remaining puffs, dipping with caramel. Let stand until the caramel is set in mold, about 10 minutes. Briefly heat the sides of the mold by holding for a few seconds over a gas flame. Invert the mold onto a platter. Tap the sides of the mold several times with a wooden spoon. Remove the mold from the Croquembouche.
FOR SPUN SUGAR: Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a heavy medium saucepan. Boil without stirring until the mixture turns amber in color, brushing down any crystals that form on the sides of the pan with a moist pastry brush, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and place on a cold surface to stop the cooking. Let stand until the caramel begins to form a thread when a whisk is dipped into the sugar and lifted into the air, about 5 minutes. Dip the whisk into the caramel and raise high above the Croquembouche. Wave the whisk with sugar thread over and around the croquembouche forming decorative threads. Repeat forming threads around the Croquembouche by dipping whisk into the caramel. Rewarm the caramel as necessary if it becomes too firm.
Croquembouche will hold up several hours at room temperature. Serve by cracking caramel with back of sharp knife and removing individual cream puffs.
Recipe created exclusively for Cooking.com by Jeanne Thiel Kelley.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Publisher. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
501 calories; 24g total fat; 260mg cholesterol; 145mg sodium; 65g carbohydrates; 0g fiber; 7g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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