You know, it’s easy to sit in the comfort of your own lounge chair and judge. Most of us are guilty of it, whether we want to admit it or not. Myself included.
There’s been a countless amount of times when I’d exclaimed: “Are you serious? You’re in the top 45 and you’ve never made scones?!” or “What’s so hard about making a bunch of choux pastry puffs and sticking them together with some caramel?”.
Following my own musings on what to make with the Nick Munro designed Royal Selangor jelly mould that didn’t involve 30 days of jelly, a friend suggested rather forcefully, but in a good way, that I make every Masterchef contestants’ nightmare: the croquembouche. She is the same friend who challenged me to making a homemade replica of Peking duck complete with paper thin, wafer crisp skin. It worked then, it will work now, I thought.
Well, the time has come for karma to bite me on the proverbial… Do not despair, I got it right but it was third time lucky for me and the Crunch-in-mouth.
I have been making choux pastry puffs for ages so the pastry was not an issue. Apart from the fact that my first profiteroles came out the size of a small egg, and at best I would be able to fit 3 in the mould. So I got onto the second batch which at just under 1/4 teaspoon of pastry produced perfect round balls smaller than an Australian 5c piece. Perfect, my confidence got a boost.
Only to be shot down by the fact that dipping those tiny fresh cream filled balls in a 140C caramel was not easy. The cream ‘melted’ and by the time I had finished assembling the ‘tower of Masterchef terror’ all the hot caramel had melted together and there was very little point in trying to eat one profiterole. It was all in at once or nothing. With the added risk of a few broken teeth.
Soft caramel didn’t work either, it just became a big soppy mess, so I ate that one too. Mmm… Sorry, I digress. Disappointed, I had decided 2 things: do not judge anything or anyone when you’re not wearing their shoes; and that third time had to be lucky. I had a new plan too, in case luck decided to take the day off. Again.
And then, with this new outlook on life and a plan for a Crunch-in-mouth that would work, I got cooking. The result was awesomely cute and just as delicious!
Don’t forget, each comment on the Royal Selangor Get Your Jelly On challenge posts on my blog (Day 1, Day 2, etc) is your entry to win an Olympus VG-110 camera. Giveaway is open worldwide! Entries close October 30, midnight AEST. Winner will be announced on the blog on October 31.
Makes 1 Corquembouche + extras
The elusive mini Croquembouche with coffee cream and caramel
The recipe will make enough dough and filling for 1 jelly mould croquembouche, 3 eclairs and some extra mini profiteroles. You can use unfilled mini profiteroles instead of croutons in soups too! How good is that? You will also need a 25ml (needle-less) syringe for piping the cream into the mini balls.
For the pastry:
- 20g unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 1 egg
For the filling:
- 3/4 cup of fresh (whipping) cream
- 2 tbsp vanilla sugar
- 1 tsp ground coffee
For the caramel for sticking and spun sugar:
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- (+ 3 tbsp cream for eclair glaze only)
Preheat oven to 220C (425F, gas mark 7).
To make the choux pastry: in a small saucepan bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides and forms a ball. This should only take a few seconds.
Transfer dough to a mixing bowl, add egg and beat with an electric mixer until glossy and smooth (I use my Braun stick blender with a whisk attachment for single egg quantity like this).
Mini profiterole balls: Using a 1/4 tsp measuring spoon, form 20 little balls pop them onto a parchment-lined cookie tray about 1 inch apart. You should only need about 12 balls for the Croquembouche.
Bake mini balls first, at 220C (425F, gas mark 7) for 5 minutes, 180C (350F, gas mark 4) for 7 minutes + 3 minutes standing with the oven off and door slightly ajar.
Eclairs: Using a spoon form three 4 inch long logs onto another parchment-lined tray about 2 inches apart.
Bake eclairs second, at 220C (425F, gas mark 7) for 10 minutes, 180C (350F, gas mark 4) for 10 minutes + 5 minutes standing with the oven off and door slightly ajar.
To make the coffee cream filling: beat cream with vanilla sugar and freshly ground coffee until soft peaks form. Spoon into the syringe.
To fill the profiteroles: poke a small hole in each ball and pipe in cream. Repeat with the other balls. Chill filled balls in the fridge.
To fill the eclairs: cut each eclair in half longways horizontally. Divide the remaining cream between eclairs and sandwhich the tops and bottoms. Chill filled eclairs in the fridge.
To make the caramel: place sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar starts to dissolve, do not stir too much. Let it melt. When melted and lighty golden, remove from heat. (Here’s a good guide to caramel by David Leibovitz if you find yourself in a pickle).
To assemble: place jelly mould upside down in a stury mug. Working quickly, spoon a little of the caramel onto one side of the first profiterole ball and drop it into the cone, caramel side up. Repeat with the rest, ensuring you place the balls in so that the next sticks to the first. Arrange smaller and bigger balls accordingly until you have reached the top of the mould.
Place a plate over the top of the mould, turn over and remove the mould to reveal the cutest little Croquembouche you have ever seen!
To make spun sugar: if the caramel has set, place it over heat for about a mibute to melt. Remove from heat and using a fork, drizzle sugar over the profiterole tower in a circular motion until it starts to set and threads start to form.
Serve with your favourite cuppa or a a good quality latte.