Sunday, October 4, 2009

.croquembouche w/ lemon cream filling.

Last weekend, I went to a social at church. We were asked to bring a "dessert for one" wrapped as a gift. I spent about a week debating what to make. I had originally thought I'd make some kind of sponge cake with mousse filling, but I wasn't sure how long something would be sitting out and I didn't want the mousse to melt all over the place. That would have been a disaster! Well, I decided to make a croquembouche, which is a fancy word for cream puffs stacked all pretty like in a pyramid shape and draped with spun sugar.

Don't be intimidated by the picture. This is a very IMPRESSIVE, do-able dessert that makes a statement for parties, or even for intimate dinners. You can make the cream puffs bigger, or smaller, just make sure you keep the sizes consistent otherwise it'll look strange.

I filled the cream puffs with a lemon cream that brought these babies into a whole new dimension. The contrast of the tart with the sweetness of the spun sugar and caramel "glue" is pure perfection. I know you'll enjoy this if you make the recipe.

First, make the lemon cream filling.

Juice 2 small lemons or 1 large. You need 4 Tablespoons lemon juice. Zest the lemons too. You need 1 Tablespoon zest. Set aside.

In a bowl whisk 9 egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar, the lemon juice, and 1/2 cup flour.

After whisking, pour it through a mesh sieve to remove any lumps or egg particles.

Put 2 cups cream in a saucepan and bring to a scald. Do not let it boil.

While whisking, pour some of the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture. This is called tempering the yolks. If you had added the egg mixture directly to the hot cream, it would have instantly cooked the eggs and made scrambled eggs. Ick. After whisking in some of the cream into the yolk mixture, add the yolk mixture back into the saucepan and put back on a burner and kick up the heat. Whisk constantly while this cooks so it doesn't burn on the bottom. It will start thickening up quickly.

As soon as it's thick, remove from the heat and add 1 Tablespoon butter and the lemon zest. Set the pan in a shallow bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and cool the filing down.

To store, put in an airtight container and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

This filling can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.

For croquembouche, I use my basic cream puff recipe. Pipe small little dollops on a buttered cookie sheet and touch the pointy tips with a wet finger.

Bake at 375* until nice and golden brown. It's safer to overbake these a little so they don't collapse on themselves. We need them to stay firm.

When the cream puffs are baked and cooled, poke the bottom of each puff with a chop stick or any other tool that's similar.

Fill a piping bag with the lemon cream and stick the tip of the piping bag into the bottom and squeeze. Don't overfill.

I made a little cone out of cardstock and wrapped with foil. Since I was taking this somewhere, I needed a disposable base so I cut a piece of cardboard from an old box and wrapped that with foil too. To adhere the cone to the base, dip into the pan of caramel sugar and then press down. It cools quickly so you won't have to hold it down long.

If you're using a plate, use the same method.

For the caramel/sugar for spinning, put in a saucepan:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water

Put the pan over medium heat on the stove until the sugar dissolves. Let this cook until a candy thermometer reaches 110*.

Carefully dip part of each filled cream puff into the sugar and start stacking around the cone. There will be some gaps between each puff. That's okay. We'll camoflauge with the spun sugar.

This part is FUN but so messy. Make sure you put a towel down on the floor and put paper under the pans.

I put two saucepans down and sprayed the handles with Pam. Dip a fork into the sugar and drizzle it back and forth from the handles. Do this until you have a good buildup of thin strands of sugar.

This cools almost immediately so you don't have to let it stay for long. Remove from the handles and repeat until you have as much spun sugar as needed.

I put a silpat down on a cookie sheet and poured some of the caramel/sugar to create some designs. Break them apart when they cool and harden.

Carefully wrap the croquembouche with the spun sugar so that it spirals down the cone. Stick pieces of the broken sugar pieces around the cake, and at the top. Serve immediately!


Stephanie said...

yup! that is it! I have been meaning to make one of these as they ARE SO IMPRESSIVE! I agree. Thanks for the recipe and tips Suzanne.
I am going to make it for either Thanks-Giving next week-end..( do you have any suggestions for fillings that might work for that occasion?)

Stephanie said...

ps. So who was the lucky lady that got THAT dessert as a gift!?

Suzanne said...

Stephanie, what about an amaretto cream filling?

Natalie said...

OMG, is this the most elegant thing I have ever seen or what?! Now I have a new secret weapon to impress the socks off the girls the next time we have a eat drink and make merry without the boys evening! YEAH!

Stephanie said...

ohh that would be nice wouldn't it!? Thanks Suz.
ps. I made your Italian bread on the week-end. I will admit, I am terrible at making dough, so I tend to use my bread machine to make dough, then I shape the bread and bake. But my paddle was missing, so I had to make it from scatch. I knew exactly where to go for a recipe! It turned out great.

heidigoseek said...

speechless. that looks divine :)

Anonymous said...

hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

WOW! Amazing!

Debbie from Illinois

Sharinskishe said...

I think this is awesome! I might try this using an ice cream sugar cone/waffle cone. That way it is all edible. I certainly don't want to miss any calories I can get my teeth into!! ha ho haa

Practically Perfect Life
Make-Do Mondays

Ruth Gyuse said...

Love the tip on spinning sugar. Am making a croquembouche this weekend.
Thanks for pictures!

Jenny L. said...

Wow, Suzanne. This look sso impressive and I bet it tasted even better. :)

Diana H said...

Hey, this was on Desperate Housewives, but I didn't think regular people could do it. Maybe your super regular, and not just regular like me. What a fantastic piece of work.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for writing you here, but my email to you today bounced back.

Have you any news for the cookie club members with time remaining?

Happy Halloween and wishing you a fun weekend!

Thanks again,

Joanna said...

wow! That looks devine! I might have to make a huge one of these for thanksgiving!! Thanks for the recipe!

Kristine said...

Just stopping by to check out pie recipes for Thanksgiving! :) I miss your posts. Thank you so much for sharing your talents! Hope all is well.

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Judy Joyce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sudie said...

yes! yes! yes! this is phenomenal.

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