Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers-Piece Montée or Croquembouche

I am not sure how I managed to publish this on time. The restaurant I am working at just got the permit from the health department yesterday and we are working like crazy to open next week, my life revolves around this now. I will write more about this new adventure in another post, there is so much to say. Knowing that the 27th would be crazy I made the little paté a choux on Saturday instead, as dessert for a group of friends that came over for dinner. I filled them with a meyer lemon cream and accompanied by a sinful caramel sauce (I will have to write another post with the recipes). They were delicious but I would love to try all the other variations of the pastry cream you can see below, but this is for another time.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).

When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!


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.

For Chocolate Pastry Cream (Half Batch Recipe):
Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.
For Coffee Pastry Cream (Half Batch recipe)
Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 ½ teaspoons boiling water. Whisk into pastry cream with butter and vanilla.

Thanks go to Cat for choosing this month's challenge and to Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, the creators of the Daring Bakers' challenge. To check other daring bakers' creations, please check the daring kitchen's site.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Du beau travail! Ton croquembouche est superbe!



elra said...

Laura, how are you? You must be very busy ....

I am glad you finish your db's challenge. It looks perfect!

Simona said...

Very nice, Laura. Good luck with the opening.

Torres#9 said...

yummy in my tummy x10!! the syrup around it makes it look that much more impressive..(not to mention delicious)!

and please feel free to visit my blog page to discuss all things Italian, including desserts!


Gaia said...

In bocca al lupo!
Sei in gamba, ce la farete ad aprire per la prossima settimana!
Questo dolce ti è venuto proprio bene!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Wow, gorgeous! Meyer lemon cream + caramel sounds heavenly. Looking forward to hearing more about the restaurant!

Mary said...

Meyer lemon cream and caramel sound like a perfect combination! Great job, and good luck with the restaurant opening!

natalia said...

Laura, vorrei tanto tue notizie spero tutto benissimo . Il croque è proprio bello !

lisaiscooking said...

Lemon cream filling sounds fantastic! Your puffs look perfect, and I can never resist caramel.

Marcellina said...

Lemon filling sounds fantastic! Great work under pressure!

Fimère said...

un seul mot: magnifique
bravo et bonne journée

bake in paris said...

Beautiful presentation, love how golden your caramel turned out!

Sawadee from Bangkok,

Lisa Michelle said...

How did i miss your gorgeous croquembouche?? Well..glad I popped in because it is one oof the most in the challenge! Hope your opening was a great success! Looking forward to seeing and hearing about it more :)

restaurants in framingham said...

Hi Laura i hope the restaurant opening went well... Nice recipes by the way..

This dessert i personally would eat it with some vanilla icecream on the side.. yum yum :)


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