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{Day 2} The elusive mini Croquembouche

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!

Giveaway

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.

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74 comments

muppy October 2, 2011 at 8:34 am

It looks so beautiful, I’m sorry to say that I’m glad you had trouble perfecting it. I am yet to even master choux pastry let alone this (but I’d love to try), and the min version is gorgeous and perfect for any occasion.

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 9:11 am

Thanks Muppy, and you know what, I’m glad too! It’s a good lesson in patience and perseverance. This Choux pastry has always turned out for me. I’ve been making it for over 10 years!

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Sneh | Cook Republic October 2, 2011 at 8:41 am

How very very cute! A mini croquembouche might just be the cutest thing I have seen in a while. You are brave, I have never done profiteroles before!

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 9:14 am

Thanks Sneh! I have that photo as a background on my computer now… *blush* I’m such a food geek! Profiteroles are one of my favourites! You should give them a go.

PS I was once contracted to make 200 perfect bite sized puffs for an occasion… That’s another story.

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kezzas October 2, 2011 at 8:49 am

Wow that is just so cute!! I love how small you made them to fit the mould. Just awesome!

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 9:15 am

Thanks kezzas! I adore that picture too… Uber cute!

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Lizzy (Good Things) October 2, 2011 at 8:51 am

Now that was a challenge that you appear to have mastered. And no easy feat!! Well done, and I don’t blame you for eating one or two… yummy!

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Eduard October 2, 2011 at 10:13 am

Croquembouche is never easy, qiute few things can go wrong. Make it miniature is real test of skill and patience. Well done!!!

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Nate @ House of Annie October 2, 2011 at 10:20 am

Can I just say, “Holy sh*t!”

(with total admiration, of course)

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Hahahahaha! Thanks!

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leaf (the indolent cook) October 2, 2011 at 10:28 am

Wow, that’s a lot of effort – you’re certainly going for it! But your end result is glorious – well done!

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Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide October 2, 2011 at 11:09 am

These look simply amazing! The caramel alone is just mouth watering.

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E October 2, 2011 at 11:23 am

Yay success! I knew you’d make the cutest little croquembouche ever! I may have been a little forceful in my suggestion but that’s just because I know you love a challenge!!
My mouth is watering….. 🙂
Can’t wait to see what else you put up this month – the Royal Selangor challenge is such a fun way to support a cause that is very close to my heart. Awesome!

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Yay I know! You were the lucky one getting up to the minute photo updates and hearing all about my trials! Thanks for having a sturdy ear that I haven’t been able to talk off!

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billy @ A Table For Two October 2, 2011 at 11:29 am

wow you sure have put some effort into it! that must take you ages to go!

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm

It wasnt too bad, just a tad frustrating as I had to make another batch of everything and I ran out of cream… But there was no turning back!

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sara (Belly Rumbles) October 2, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Simply adorable, can’t wait for tomorrow’s creation. Love the fact you have the pics as your screensaver.

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Haha, me too! 🙂 thanks Sara.

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TasteFood October 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I am very impressed – this looks great.

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Thank you!

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Joanne October 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I feel like croquembouche is the ultimate “food with a reputation.” Bravo!!!

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Does that mean I now have a reputation? 🙂

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mademoiselle délicieuse October 2, 2011 at 5:31 pm

So, so cute! But I bet such a pain-staking effort to make – serious props to you =)

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Thank you, it wasn’t too bad actually, just a little hard to work out the way of doing it!

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Sukaina October 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Gorgeous gorgeous croquembouche. Worthy of a display in a patisserie. Love that first photo!

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Thank you Sukaina, your comment is very kind. And yes, the first photo is my favourite and as such it currently adornes my desktop! 🙂

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mycookinghut October 2, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Such a pretty French dessert, I am ready to take one! 😉

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Yasmeen @ wandering spice October 2, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Job well done, Martyna, seriously! No judgement whatsoever – this one is notorious for being hard but you have made it really beautiful. Love the last photo.

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Wholesome Cook October 2, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Thank you Yasmeen, It was a little hard but a lot of fun too! I love a good challenge so really wanted to make it work!

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gertrude October 2, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Well done Martyna. They look perfect!!

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Sharni October 2, 2011 at 10:59 pm

This is gorgeous, the dessert is not an easy one to make and yours looks perfect! Congrats!

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Mel October 2, 2011 at 11:01 pm

I like how you can use the leftover mini balls in the soup instead of croutons, genius! And you get the eclairs too…

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ChopinandMysaucepan October 3, 2011 at 12:24 am

Well done!!! We would never have thought of doing something like this, Love the combination of coffee and vanilla flavours!

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Cheah October 3, 2011 at 2:18 am

This creation is soooooo original, thumbs up!

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boo_licious October 3, 2011 at 5:08 am

Love how those delicate sugar strands seem to envelop the puffs. Brilliant idea Martyna.

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kiki October 3, 2011 at 10:52 am

Waaa~ Its so so so cute!! 😀 your ideas are so unique!

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Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Thank you thank you!

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Courtney October 3, 2011 at 10:55 am

Love your creativity- and that you persevered (with some tasty carmel in the middle!). Yum!

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Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

That’s what it’s all about, especially in this challenge… Not giving up!

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Three-Cookies October 3, 2011 at 9:50 pm

A croquembouche sounds simple and basic for sure but I have never made it. I guess its another story when one tries it. Great job is putting it together. Interesting creations so far, looking forward to seeing whats more to come

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Geni - Sweet and Crumby October 4, 2011 at 4:46 am

Here’s to you for attempting it and conquering the croquembouche! Yours looks amazing and the coffee cream is making me drool. YUM!

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Just A Smidgen October 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

This recipe took me back to an anniversary dinner I had with my husband many, many years ago. I was impressed then and even more impressed now. This is quite a baking accomplishment in my books!

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Wholesome Cook October 4, 2011 at 10:44 am

Thank you and I’m pleased to have conjured up some memories for you through this dish. While normally baked, the jelly moulds are not to be used in the oven, hence the use of water and a saucepan!

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Chocolate-coated peanut butter goodness! « It's Jellyriffic! October 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

[…] creations so far, take a look at all of them here! There’s been polka dot jelly, croquembouche, cheeky jelly, pink guava sorbet, raspberry ginger ale jelly, pea and corn jelly (how cool is […]

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Ashley@bakerbynature October 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm

This looks absolutely gorgeous. And coffee cream filling pretty much seals my love and approval all over this. Xx

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Wholesome Cook October 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Completely agree!

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Sissi October 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

This one is a real masterpiece! I loved reading about your adventures while making it. I am not very lucky with puff pastry. The small “choux” are usually ok, but when I wanted to try éclairs it was trickier. (I don’t even comment the caramel. I’m too impressed!)

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sunnythiknits October 7, 2011 at 2:50 am

All of this looks so yummy and so wonderfully presented. I think you have encouraged me to try making some for myself.

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TC October 7, 2011 at 7:22 am

that is gorgeous.

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Erin@TheFoodMentalist October 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Just gorgeous Martyna!

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Julie October 7, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Nice! Love the end product

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Roxana B October 10, 2011 at 4:53 am

That is beautiful! Looks so tasty too. You are making me crave sweets. Yum! I am definitely adding this to my recipe box. Awesome job!

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Donna Marie October 10, 2011 at 11:53 am

What an adorable holiday food this will be. Thanks for sharing this recipe both pretty and tasty. yum!

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Wholesome Cook October 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Thank you Donna Marie, email if you have any questions 🙂

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Joshua Hudson October 11, 2011 at 11:49 am

Looks yummy!

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Vivian - vxdollface October 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Uber cutie xD i feel like making one now!

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Jamila October 14, 2011 at 3:38 am

You make it look so easy. If I made this, my husband would think it was store bought. Haha

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Sandy October 14, 2011 at 6:08 am

These are so much fun to make!

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Zoe Roberts October 14, 2011 at 8:06 am

This looks lovely.. who needs a massive tower when you can have this one all to yourself. YUM. My cereal is looking very bland now.

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ne-knopka October 14, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Amazing!

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Amber October 15, 2011 at 2:48 am

Wow, these look so delicious! Love the pretty sugar cage as well.

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Sarah O. October 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I’m way too scared to try croquembouche, fortunately it’s satisfying just to say. 😛

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Mary October 17, 2011 at 8:56 am

We once attempted to make this for a banquet at my old Bible College. Looks amazing!

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Mez October 18, 2011 at 11:26 am

We are having a croquembouche for our wedding!!! THE FRENCH LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE CAKE!!! Yaaayayayaya I’m so excited!!!

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jasmine1485 October 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Well done! I know I couldn’t have made it anywhere near as well – it looks deceptively simple but I know it’s not 🙂

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Lenna (veganlenna) October 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I have made these once on Christmas. It looked very fancy and everyone admired it, it looked a bit like a Christmas tree 🙂

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Jessy (squeezetheday) October 21, 2011 at 6:25 am

Cute and they look delicious, too!

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valens87 October 23, 2011 at 10:41 am

I love profitteroles and eclaires. The composition is fantastic with all that caramel, it’s so modern! keep up the good work!

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Ming October 25, 2011 at 4:10 am

That looks too cool to eat!

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kaokimura October 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm

this pastry always reminds me of “My Lovely Sam Soon”, my most favorite Korean drama. what I love about that scene when croquembouche was presented to the guests of the engagement party was Sam Soon’s fantasy of ‘poisoning’ the guests with black pepper mixed in the pastry, but in reality she was silently crying in the restaurant’s kitchen, which implied though much as it hurts her, she accepted the fact that she made the engagement party ‘cake’ for the man she once loved and though she might have wanted him back, this was one step for her to move on.
I’m following your blog for months now and I admire your dedication to the project. more power to your blog!

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Wholesome Cook October 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm

That is such a lovely story! Thank you for sharing it 🙂

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kaokimura October 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm

you’re welcome 🙂

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Sharn October 30, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Absolutely gorgeous!! That is my favourite dessert… Well, along with about 10 others 😛 But spun caramel, creme patissiere, choux – How can you want more in life? And your step by step photography is really wonderful.

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Christine November 3, 2011 at 7:50 am

Hi Martyna , Your The elusive mini Croquembouche recipe has been selected to be featured in a Recipe Guessing Game. Please share the following link with your friends and fans. To play, go here: http://knapkins.com/guess_games/66?source=blog Congrats again!! 🙂

Reply

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