The croquembouche has been called the “super bowl of desserts,” and this year I decided I wanted to tackle it. No pun intended 😉
In Europe, these dessert is reserved more for weddings and special events, but I thought it would be fun to bring it out for the holidays.
The one tip I have to make sure this dessert is successful: USE TONGS. Trust me on this. The caramel is as hot as molten lava, and a lot of people use gloves to cover their hands. Tongs worked for me, and it kept my hands free from accidental burns.
A stunning dessert made up of cream filled choux pastry, and held together with drizzled “cracked” caramel.
Vanilla Pastry Cream:
¾ cup milk
¾ cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons flour
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Profiteroles (Pate Choux)
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup plus 1 T butter, cut into slices
1 t salt
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup water
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
For the cream:
Gather all ingredients together. This is really important so you can work quickly with the pastry cream. In
a saucepan, warm the milk and heavy cream over medium-low heat until it just begins to bubble around
the edges. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, and sugar, until light and smooth. Whisk
in the cornstarch, flour, and pinch of salt; until very smooth. When the milk mixture has begun to just
bubble at the edges, pour a ladle of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk vigorously to blend and
prevent the eggs from scrambling. Add another ladle of milk mixture and continue whisking vigorously.
This is tempering the eggs. Now pour the entire egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk
mixture and continue whisking continuously, to combine well. Stir constantly and you will begin to feel
some resistance as the custard thickens. When it has thickened, remove from the heat and add in the
vanilla and butter, continuing to stir to combine. If desired, you can press this through a wire mess strainer
to get a really smooth consistency. Cover with plastic wrap, so the wrap touches the custard completely.
This will prevent it from developing a film. Place in the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours before filling the
Preheat oven to 400* and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a sauce pan, bring the water, sugar, butter, and salt to a boil. Dump the flour in it and stir vigorously
with wooden spoon, until the flour is well incorporated. Turn the heat down and continue stirring, for 2-
3 minutes. The flour mixture may begin coating the bottom of the sauce pan, and that is okay. Remove
it from the heat, and put the mixture into a stand mixer.
Turn the mixer on low, add one egg, and increase the speed to medium to beat the egg into the dough.
Continue with each additional egg, one at a time, making sure they incorporate well into the dough. The
dough should be glossy and stretch and fall from the beater in thick ribbons, when you are done.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag, fitted with a ½ inch plain tip. I put a little bit of dough under each
corner of the parchment paper, so it sticks to the pan, while I’m piping the puffs. Then pipe 1 ½ inch
mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them.
Dip your finger in water and press down the tip of the pastry that sticks up, so it doesn’t burn when the
puffs are baking. Brush each puff with egg wash.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until nicely browned and baked through. Remove and cool completely.
Heat over high heat, until the sugar dissolves. Leave unstirred until it just starts to go golden. Remove
from the heat.
Assemble the Cream Puffs:
Using a small wooden dowel, poke a hole in the underside of each profiterole. Set aside. Spoon the
chilled pastry cream into a bag fitted with a plain tip. Insert the tip into the hole of in the profiterole and
pipe pastry cream into the center. Fill the puff, but don’t overfill it. You want the cream to stay inside the
puff. Repeat with all the profiteroles.
Assemble the Croquembouche:
Working quickly, (the caramel cools fast) use tongs to dip the filled profiterole in the caramel arrange on
a serving platter in a circular pattern. Continue to stack caramel-dipped cream puffs in a tower/cone
shape. Once you reach the top, it should look like a large cone. Dip a fork into the caramel and drizzle it
around the tower to get the angel hair effect.