Thursday, May 27, 2010

Piece Montée, Croquembouche, or Cream Puffs

It is that time of the month again, here is the next Daring Bakers challenge.

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.

Piece Montée, means “mounted piece.” You may know this dessert by another name – Croquembouche (“crunch in the mouth”). The piece montée is the traditional wedding cake in France. They are often served at baptisms and communions as well.

I had never hard of these before I started this but it reminds me of a cream puff and it is really delicious.   It is not very hard to make just a little time consuming putting it all together.

Piece Montée, Croquembouche, or Cream puffs

This recipe has 3 main components: the Pate a Choux, the Vanilla Crème Patissiere, and the Chocolate Glaze to mount and decorate it.

While a Piece Montée may be a bit time-consuming to assemble, the various components are relatively easy to make and don’t require any special ingredients. The best part about them is that once you have mastered them, you will be able to go on and make many beloved French French pastries such as éclairs, profiteroles, Paris-Brest, etc. all of which are made with this Pate a Choux recipe, a filling and glaze.

Vanilla Crème Patissiere

1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
6 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk in one bowl. Then in a separate bowl 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. Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use. Should cool for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Pate a Choux

(Makes about 28)

¾ cup water
6 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425 F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

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 a ziplock bag and making a little cut in one of the corners). Pipe a 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 425F degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 F degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Can be stored in an airtight box overnight.

Putting it all together:
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 (I again, used a ziplock bag for this). Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Chocolate Glaze

8 ounces finely chopped semi sweet chocolate. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée, here is where you can use your imagination, mine was pretty lacking. 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. If you want to do something really fancy you may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place.

Folks will not believe you made this. Have fun and Enjoy!

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24 Responses to “Piece Montée, Croquembouche, or Cream Puffs”

  1. 1

    Lisa — May 27, 2010 @ 5:57 am

    WOWWW These look soooo good. I’ve never made them…and to be honest I prefer someone else makes But they look amazing!

    • Delishhh replied: — May 28th, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

      Lisa, Oh yeah they were amazing, but also a little complicated to make, i would stick with the cream puffs that you can get at Costco for easy access 🙂

  2. 2

    Ago — May 28, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    Your piece montèe looks so yummyyy!!!! I loved this challenge! 😀 nice to meet you!

    • Delishhh replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

      Ago, nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by. Yes the Piece Montee was fun to do. I was just at your blog and you have a fabulous blog. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. 3

    Barbara @moderncomfortfood — May 29, 2010 @ 4:29 am

    I’ve never made this glorious dessert but your recipe definitely makes me want to try it. So pretty, and who can resist the use of chocolate as a “mounting?” Many thanks for sharing.

    • Delishhh replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

      Barbara, If you do try it out let me know what you think about it. For me it was a pretty challanging dessert to make but very satisfying.

  4. 4

    Barbara — May 29, 2010 @ 8:29 am

    I’ve really enjoyed following along on this challenge. Everyone came up with such different ideas! I’ve only made this once and did the sugar bit with it. I thinik the chocolate would be much easier to use and I bet everyone likes it better!

    • Delishhh replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

      Barbara, yes that is why i choose the chocolate mounting instead. I read about all the trouble folks had with the caramel/sugar. Maybe next time i will try it. This challange was pretty difficult but satisfying.

  5. 5

    Yummita — May 29, 2010 @ 10:26 am

    Wow 🙂 It’s gorgeous. Now I’m pretty hungry. Good job on these 🙂



    • Delishhh replied: — June 7th, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

      Yummita, Thanks for stopping by. These were fun to make.

  6. 6

    The Teacher Cooks — May 30, 2010 @ 8:50 am

    You did such a great job with this challenge. I love your photograph. Very beautiful and very appetizing. I will be stopping by again.l

    • Delishhh replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

      The teacher cooks. Welcome to Delishhh! I am so glad you stopped by.

  7. 7

    Reeni — May 30, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

    Your cream puffs look so very delicious with the chocolate on them! They turned out great!

    • Delishhh replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

      Reeni, thanks so much for stopping by. Welcome!

  8. 8

    jackie — May 31, 2010 @ 3:04 am

    looks extremely delisssh….thank you for dropping by my blog.

    • Delishhh replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

      Jacie, thank you for coming by. Welcome. Hope you can back and visit.

  9. 9

    Rosa — June 1, 2010 @ 3:31 am

    Great job! Your pièce montée looks deicious!



    • Delishhh replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

      Rosa, Thanks! And i hope you can come by soon again!

  10. 10

    Alina — June 3, 2010 @ 6:21 am

    These cream puffs are to die for!!! And it’s really hard to believe they’re home-made!

    • Delishhh replied: — June 7th, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

      Alina, these were so much fun to make, you have to try them out. I am sure your will be amazing!

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