Croquembouche recipe

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This is a classic French recipe for a towering display of choux buns, filled with a thick creme patissiere and drizzled with caramel. Decorate as you like - I used pink marzipan roses and chocolate hearts because this one was for my friend's wedding.

11 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 1 croquembouche tower

  • For the choux pastry
  • 250ml water
  • 100g butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 150g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • For the creme patissiere
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 40g cornflour
  • 500ml milk, divided
  • 1 (150ml carton) single cream, frozen
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • For the caramel
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of water
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:20min ›Extra time:2hr setting › Ready in:2hr40min

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas 6. Lightly grease 2 baking trays. Put the single cream in the freezer for 15 minutes - you will need this for the creme patissiere.
  2. Bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and pour in the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a soft ball. Return to low heat and dry the dough for a minute or so more.
  3. Remove from heat, then add the eggs one at a time, stirring or mixing until blended (do not add another egg until it is completely blended). It will look like a smooth paste.
  4. Place teaspoons of choux pastry on the baking trays, leaving 2.5 cm between them. Bake for 15-18 minutes (less if fan-assisted) and try not to open the oven door in case they flop!
  5. For the creme patissiere: Mix 2 eggs, 85g caster sugar, a drop of vanilla extract, 40g cornflour and 250ml of milk in a bowl.
  6. In a saucepan, bring the remaining milk to the boil. Turn heat down and stir in the sugar mixture, stirring constantly until thick. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, whip the cream from the freezer until stiff. Add 2 tablespoons caster sugar and juice from 1 lemon. Gently stir into the cooled custard.
  7. For the caramel: Pour 250g caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of water into a pot. Bring it to the boil until golden brown, remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  8. To assemble the croquembouche: I used a large piece of cardboard and I rolled it into a cone. I stapled it, then lined it with baking paper and transferred it to a baking tray covered with foil. I dipped the cone into the caramel then placed it to the baking tray. The caramel acts as a glue.
  9. Then, carefully dip each choux bun into the caramel (remember, it's hot) and stick to the cone. Finish by using a fork to drizzle the remaining caramel over the buns. Decorate as desired.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(7)

Reviews in English (4)

-20 Apr 2012

I really enjoyed making this the other day for a French wedding (Galic tradition) and it worked out well.-08 Aug 2013

Nice recipe, pastry came out a wee soft and creme pattisiere was a little too loose - I dont think it needed the single cream - it was delicious without but still good - so great recipe! thanks!-17 Sep 2012

Easy Croquembouche Recipe + French Themed Food Ideas

Learn how to make my easy Croquembouche recipe . it's simple with my step by step tutorial! Plus, get some other easy and delicious French themed menu and food ideas that are perfect for throwing a French-themed party!

Julia Child's Croquembouche Recipe

Here is a splendid edible centerpiece for your New Year’s table, the croquembouche — row upon row of tiny cream puffs mounted into a conical tower and glittering with caramel. It’s fun to assemble and is guaranteed to bring gasps of delight from your guests.

The Pâte À Choux — Cream-Puff Pastry

For about 70 puffs, for a croquembouche 16 inches high

  • 1½ cups water
  • 9 Tb (1 stick plus 1 Tb) butter
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • A heavy 3-quart saucepan
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour (measure by sifting directly into 1- and ½-cup dry measures sweep off excess flour)
  • 5 to 6 eggs (U.S. graded “large”)

Place water, butter, salt, and sugar in saucepan and bring to the boil. When butter has melted and water is bubbling, remove saucepan from heat immediately pour in all the flour and beat with a wooden spoon to blend thoroughly. Set over moderate heat and beat with wooden spoon for a minute or two, until mixture leaves sides of pan clean, leaves spoon clean, and begins to film on the bottom of the pan this is to evaporate all excess moisture. In culinary language, you now have a panade.

Make a depression in the center of the hot panade with your spoon, break an egg into it, and beat thoroughly until the egg is absorbed. Continue with four more eggs one at a time, and beating in each until thoroughly absorbed. (You may use an electric mixer for adding the eggs if the mixture clogs the beaters, you’ll have to resort again to the spoon.)

Whether or not to add all or part of the sixth egg depends on the consistency of the pastry: if it is too soft, it will spread out when formed. Test by lifting up a mass of the paste in your spoon: it should hold its shape plop a bit on a plate: it should hold its shape. If it seems too stiff, beat the sixth egg in a small bowl, then beat a tablespoon into the pastry test again, adding more egg if you think it necessary.

This is now a pâte à choux use it while still warm, or it becomes too stiff.

Forming the Puffs

  • 2 large baking sheets (14x18 inches is a good size)
  • Egg glaze (1 egg beaten with ½ tsp cold water)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Lightly butter the two largest baking sheets that will fit into your oven. Either with a soup spoon or with a pastry bag and ½-inch tube, form circular blobs of pâte à choux 1 inch in diameter and 1 inch high, spaced 1½ inches apart on the sheets. With leftover pastry, make a decoration for the top of the croquembouche, such as a 4x2½-inch oval ¼ inch thick, continuing one end of the oval into a 2-inch stem. (You may have to put this on a separate sheet and bake it later.)

Paint the tops of the puffs with egg glaze, pushing them into shape if necessary with the flat of your brush. Be careful not to let glaze dribble down the sides of the puffs onto the baking sheet this will prevent puffs from rising.

Place the filled baking sheets in the upper- and lower-middle levels of the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until puffs are a nice golden brown and crisp to the touch they should double in size. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake 10 minutes more, then turn oven off, leave door ajar, and let puffs cool. They must be thoroughly dried out and crisp for the croquembouche. (Baked and cooled puffs may be frozen.)

Filling Suggestions
If you wish to mount the croquembouche hours ahead of time, it is best to use unfilled puffs. Filled puffs may become soggy in 2 hours.

As you can easily transform pâte à choux into a pastry-cream filling, you could make a little extra pâte à choux to begin with, by adding to the original proportions: ½ cup water, 3 tablespoons butter, ½ cup flour, and 1 egg. When you have finished forming your 70 puffs and decoration, beat the extra pastry with 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat. When mixture is simmering, thin out to desired consistency with dribbles of milk, and sweeten to taste with several tablespoons of sugar. Flavor to taste with vanilla and kirsch, rum, or coffee. The easiest way to fill the puffs is with a pastry bag and a ¼-inch tube, plunged into the bottom or sides of the puffs.

Mounting the Croquembouche

When you are ready to assemble, find any type of slant-sided container that is about 8 inches at the top, 7 inches at the bottom, and 4 or more inches deep (a flowerpot lined with heavy aluminum foil would do). Smear the entire interior with tasteless salad oil. You will line this container with caramel-dipped puffs to form the base of the croquembouche because the container is oiled, you can slip the base out of it.

The Caramel

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 Tb corn syrup
  • A heavy saucepan

Bring the sugar, water, and corn syrup to the boil over high heat, swirling pan until sugar has completely dissolved and liquid is clear and limpid. Cover pan closely: rising steam will condense on cover, drop down sides of pan, and wash off sugar crystals. Remove cover in 3 to 4 minutes, when bubbles have become large and liquid is a thick syrup. Continue boiling several minutes more until syrup turns amber. Swirl pan slowly as syrup darkens into a golden caramel brown remove pan from heat just before it is quite as dark as you wish it to be, as the heat of the pan will deepen the color. To prevent caramel from hardening, set pan in another pan of simmering water.

Spearing puffs with a small knife, dip them one by one into the caramel and make a ring of upside-down puffs around the inside of the container, being sure each puff is glued to its neighbor with caramel. Build another ring on top of the first, and continue until the sides of the mold are covered. Let cool 5 minutes, then run a thin knife between puffs and edge of container to loosen the base unmold onto an upturned cake tin. Build four or more rows of right-side-up caramel-dipped puffs on top of the base, slanting each row slightly inward to make a conical shape. Dip stem of decoration into caramel and set into the center of the top row.

Final decoration

Dip a spoon into the caramel and dribble lines over the entire croquembouche, then dip a fork into the caramel and wave it around and around the croquembouche to surround it with threads of spun caramel. Set on a serving platter.

Tuck sprigs of holly around the base, and decorate with any other items that will make for a Happy New Year!

Excerpted from The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child. Copyright © 2002 by Julia Child. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.



Step 1

Place racks in upper third and middle of oven preheat to 450°. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit aa pastry bag with a plain ½" tip. (Alternatively, use a plastic freezer bag and snip a ½" hole in one bottom corner.)

Step 2

Bring milk, butter, salt, and ¾ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add flour all at once, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, mixing vigorously with a wooden spoon, until a dough forms and pulls away from sides of pan, about 1 minute. Continue to mix vigorously until a thin dry film forms on bottom and sides of pot, about 1 minute. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Let flour mixture cool 1 minute.

Step 3

Add 1 egg and beat on low speed until egg is incorporated and dough looks smooth again, about 30 seconds. Repeat with 5 more eggs, adding one at a time and beating to incorporate fully before adding the next. The dough should appear smooth, shiny, and thickened. Add Gruyère and beat on low speed just to combine. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, transfer flour mixture to a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon, being sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.)

Step 4

Spoon half of dough into prepared pastry bag. Pipe 1½"-diameter and ¾"-high rounds on prepared sheet, spacing 1½" apart. You should have 6 rows of 4 rounds, yielding 24 rounds per sheet. Spoon remaining dough into pastry bag and repeat on second prepared baking sheet to make 48 rounds total.

Step 5

Whisk remaining egg with 2 tsp. water in a small bowl. Brush rounds lightly all over with egg wash.

Step 6

Transfer baking sheets to oven, then immediately turn oven off. After 10 minutes, heat oven to 350° and bake 15 minutes. Rotate pans front to back and top to bottom and continue to bake until puffs are deep golden brown all over, like the color of a brown paper bag, 15–20 minutes longer. Pick one up and check the underside to be sure of color puffs should feel hollow when tapped (they will deflate if removed from oven before they’re fully baked). Transfer puffs to a wire rack and let cool.

Step 7

Do Ahead: Dough can be made 1 month ahead. Freeze piped rounds on baking sheets, then transfer to resealable plastic bags and keep frozen. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets (do not defrost) before continuing with recipe.


Step 8

Fit a pastry bag with a plain ⅛" tip (or, snip a very tiny hole in bottom corner of a freezer bag). Pulse parsley, dill, garlic, and chives in a food processor until finely chopped, about 1 minute. Add ricotta, cream cheese, Parmesan, salt, and pepper and process until very smooth and homogenous, 1–2 minutes longer.

Step 9

Spoon filling into prepared pastry bag. Working one at a time, poke a hole into bottom of puff that’s big enough to just fit tip of pastry bag use a paring knife or skewer. You may need to rotate the skewer a few times to widen the hole. Gently pipe in cheese mixture to fill each puff.

Step 10

Do Ahead: Filling can be made 1 day ahead. Chill in pastry bag until ready to use.

Caramel and Assembly

Step 11

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Increase heat to medium-high, cover, and cook syrup 3 minutes to create steam inside the pot that will wash away any sugar crystals around the edges.

Step 12

Uncover and continue to cook until caramel turns a light amber color, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and dip bottom of pot into ice water for 1 minute to stop the caramel from cooking (it will continue to darken slightly as it cools). Stir in sea salt and 1 tsp. pepper.

Step 13

Carefully dip tops of filled puffs into caramel. Place caramel side up on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. (If caramel becomes too hard before all puffs are dipped, reheat over medium-low to loosen.)

Step 14

Gently rewarm caramel over medium-low heat before assembly so caramel isn’t thick. If it gets too cool while you’re building, rewarm again. (The cooled caramel will be thicker and gloppier and result in puffs that are hard to pluck off the croquembouche later on.)

Step 15

Use the 9 largest puffs for the bottom layer. Arrange them in a ring in the center of a large plate or cake stand to gauge how big the bottom layer should be. To assemble the cone of cream puffs, they need to be oriented onto their sides so that their caramel tops are facing outward. Working quickly, dip the outside bottom edge of 1 puff into caramel (you want just enough caramel to make a dab of “glue”) and stick caramel side down onto plate so that the top of the puff is facing out. Dip another puff in caramel on its bottom edge in two places (9 o’clock and 6 o’clock) and position on plate so that one dab of hot caramel is stuck to the side of the first puff and the other dab of caramel anchors it to the plate (top of puff should be facing out). Using the circle of puffs as your guide, repeat with remaining 7 puffs to complete bottom layer.

Step 16

Select 8 next-largest puffs to make the second layer. Use caramel to stick them together the same way as the first layer, doing your best to anchor puffs in the spaces in between the bottom puffs and angling them inward slightly to encourage a cone-like shape (this will make the croquembouche more sturdy).

Step 17

Continue to build croquembouche, making slightly smaller circles for each layer, angling puffs in slightly to encourage a cone shape, and reheating caramel as needed. Finish tower with a single puff, top facing up you should have about 7 layers total. If your puffs aren’t all the same size, some layers may decrease by more than 1 puff, but try to keep things symmetrical.

Step 18

Let caramel in pan cool until it just begins to form a thread when you lift it from the pot with a fork. (The cooler it gets, the faster it will harden until it hardens midair.) Dip fork in caramel and quickly circle over and around croquembouche, letting caramel fall where it may (puffs should be encased in airy strings of caramel when you’re done). Let cool until caramel hardens, about 5 minutes.

Step 19

Top croquembouche with Parmesan and grind some pepper over top. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • Pink gel food color
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup seedless strawberry jam
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, very finely chopped and patted dry
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pink macarons and meringue kisses, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack in bottom third. Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar, salt, and 1 cup water over medium heat bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in flour. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from sides of pan and a film forms on bottom, about 3 minutes.

Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until slightly cooled, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. With mixer on low, add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated and a soft peak forms when you touch dough with your finger.

Transfer about half the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a 5/8-inch plain tip (such as Ateco #808). Pipe into rounds, about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, onto prepared sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Smooth peaks with a wet finger, rounding tops to ensure even rising. Repeat with remaining half of dough. Place baking sheets in freezer while you repeat with remaining dough and make craquelin topping.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in flour and salt. Add pink food color, a drop at a time, until desired color is reached. Roll out topping between two sheets of parchment to an 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer to a baking sheet and freeze 30 minutes.

Using a 1-inch round cutter, cut out 72 rounds of craquelin dough and place one on top of each puff. Return to freezer.

Transfer one baking sheet of puffs to oven reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until bottoms are golden brown and tops are crackled and crisp but not browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Repeat process with remaining baking sheets. (For crispier puffs, remove from oven after baking and use a small paring knife to create a small slit in the base of each puff. Turn off oven return puffs to oven until crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely.)

Strawberry Buttercream:

Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over (not in) a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch and feels completely smooth when rubbed between fingertips.

Transfer bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high, beat until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue beating until mixture is fluffy and glossy and bottom of bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in butter, a few tablespoons at a time, until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue beating until completely smooth. Beat in jam. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in chopped strawberries. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and a filling tip (such as Wilton #230).

Insert pastry-bag tip into base of each puff fill. Return filled puffs to baking sheets in a single layer as you work.

Prepare an ice-water bath. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil, washing down sides of pan often with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Cook, without stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high and cook, swirling pan gently to color evenly, until caramel is light amber, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and dip bottom of pan in ice-water bath for a few seconds to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Working quickly, dip bottom of each filled puff in caramel (be very careful not to burn your fingers) and adhere puffs closely together in circular pattern, working upwards from the base to top of croquembouche mold.

Use macarons and meringue kisses to fill in spaces between puffs, as needed.

Croquembouche Recipe

for the craquelin: 
½ cup|4 ounces|113 grams|1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup|5.3 ounces|150 grams packed light brown sugar 
1 cup|4.6 ounces|130 grams all-purpose flour 
pinch of kosher salt

for the pâte à choux:
½ cup|4.4 ounces|124 grams whole milk 
1 tablespoon granulated sugar 
½ teaspoon kosher salt 
7 tablespoons|3.5 ounces|100 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces 
1 cup|4.6 ounces|130 grams all-purpose flour 
5 large eggs

for the pastry cream: 
2 cups|456 grams whole milk seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean or 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup|3.5 ounces|100 grams granulated sugar 
¼ cup|1 ounce|30 grams cornstarch 
5 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons|3 ounces|85 grams unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, chilled
4 ounces|113 grams finely chopped semisweet chocolate

for the croquembouche: 
pâte à choux
pastry cream
1 cup|8.5 ounces|240 grams crème fra໬he 
3 ¼ cups|23 ounces|650 grams granulated sugar

  1. Make the craquelin: In a medium bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar and mix with a flexible spatula until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. Add the flour and salt and stir until no floury spots remain and you have a stiff dough. Fold the dough onto itself several times in a light kneading motion to make sure it’s very evenly mixed, then divide it in half.
  2. Roll out the craquelin and punch out the rounds: Roll out one piece of craquelin dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a ⅛-inch thickness (it helps to periodically peel off and reposition both pieces of parchment paper for wrinkle-free rolling). Slide the parchment onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until the dough is firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and peel off the top layer of parchment. Use a 1-inch round cutter to punch out as many rounds of dough as you can fit. Transfer the rounds to a plate, cover, and refrigerate. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the second half of the dough and any scraps until you have about 70 rounds. Keep them covered and refrigerated until ready to bake (discard any remaining scraps).
  3. Make the pâte à choux: In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, salt, butter, and ½ cup|125 ml water. Bring the mixture to a lively simmer over medium-low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to melt the butter.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook the dough: When you see active bubbling on the surface, add the flour all at once and stir slowly to incorporate it into the liquid. Once all the flour disappears, stir vigorously until all the ingredients come together into a soft dough and a light film forms around the sides and across the bottom of the saucepan. Continue to cook the dough over medium heat, using the spoon to smack it against the sides, until the dough is smooth and firm and holds together in a ball, and the film on the bottom of the saucepan has been reabsorbed into the dough, about 3 minutes. The most important thing here is to make sure the dough has a chance to dry out and the flour loses its raw taste, so don’t rush it.
  5. Beat in the eggs: Scrape the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or into a large bowl if making by hand). Let it rest for about a minute to cool slightly, then turn the mixer on medium and the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. It will look separated at first but will smooth out with mixing. (If making the dough by hand, just stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon.) After each egg, the dough should look glossier and looser than before. Keep beating in the eggs one at a time until the mixture is very glossy, smooth, and thick enough to hold its shape but loose enough that it leaves a thin V-shaped trail as it falls off the end of the paddle or spoon. You might not need to add all 5 eggs, so stop once the mixture reaches this point.
  6. Transfer to a pastry bag: Scrape the batter into a large pastry bag or resealable plastic bag. Twist or seal the bag to close, squeezing out as much air as possible. The dough is now ready to use.
  7. Preheat the oven: Arrange two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 425ଏ. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Trace around a 1-inch-diameter cutter (or bottle cap), making rows of circles spaced about 1½ inches apart. You want about 35 circles per sheet, so arrange the circles in a 5 × 7 grid. Turn the parchment over so the ink side is down (you should still be able to see the circles) and set the baking sheets aside.
  8. Pipe the puffs: Snip a ½-inch opening in the pastry bag filled with the dough. Working over the prepared baking sheets, center the opening of the bag inside a circle and squeeze gently, without moving the bag, to extrude a mound of dough, filling the circle. Continue piping until you’ve filled all the circles on both sheets.
  9. Bake the puffs: Transfer the baking sheets to the upper and lower racks and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375ଏ. Place a round of craquelin on top of each mound of piped pâte à choux. Bake until the puffs are risen and deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes, switching racks and rotating the pans front to back after 20 minutes.
  10. Cool the puffs and poke holes: Turn off the oven and allow the puffs to cool inside with the door propped open for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and use the tip of a paring knife to poke a small hole in the bottom of each puff to allow steam to escape (trapped steam can sometimes cause the puffs to deflate as they cool). Let the puffs cool completely on the baking sheets.
  11. Make the chocolate pastry cream: Place a fine-mesh sieve over the top of a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
  12. Combine the milk, vanilla seeds and pod, and salt in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat and let the mixture come slowly to a simmer, whisking occasionally, to allow the vanilla to infuse the milk.
  13. Beat the sugar, cornstarch, and yolks: While the milk is heating, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and yolks in a large bowl. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is very pale, light in texture, and thick, about 2 minutes (it will seem too thick to whisk at first but will thin out as you work it). Using a ladle and whisking constantly, slowly stream about half of the hot milk into the bowl with the egg mixture (this gradually raises the temperature of the eggs so they don’t curdle). Whisking constantly, quickly stream the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining warm milk.
  14. Cook the pastry cream: Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the foam has subsided and the pastry cream is thick like pudding and easily holds the marks of the whisk, about 3 minutes (but possibly several minutes longer depending on the strength of your stove and the sturdiness of your saucepan). It’s important that the mixture comes to a boil in order to activate the cornstarch, but at the same time you don’t want to overcook the pastry cream—when you pause whisking for about 5 seconds, a few thick bubbles should form beneath the surface and then pop. If this isn’t happening or the cream isn’t thickening, raise the heat slightly and keep whisking, pausing every 30 seconds to check if it’s bubbling.
  15. Strain and incorporate the butter: Scrape the cooked pastry cream into the mesh sieve and use the whisk to press the mixture through the mesh into the bowl below (discard any solids). Whisk the cold butter into the hot pastry cream one piece at a time until smooth, then whisk in the finely chopped semisweet chocolate into the hot pastry cream until melted and smooth. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate until it’s cold, at least 4 hours.
  16. Prepare your base: Cover a 9-inch cake round, the circular bottom of a springform or removable tart pan, or an inverted 9-inch cake pan with foil. Place this on a larger serving plate or cake stand and set it next to you on the work surface.
  17. Mix the pastry cream and fill the puffs: In a large bowl, combine the chocolate pastry cream and crème fra໬he and whisk until smooth. Transfer to a large pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch round tip. Twist the bag to seal, pressing out air. Insert the pastry tip into the bottom of each puff and squeeze the bag firmly to fill the puff. You want it filled completely, but not to the point where the puff bursts or the filling squeezes back out of the opening. Fill as many puffs as you can with the pastry cream mixture𠅏or a croquembouche with a base ring of 11 cream puffs, you will need around 66, possibly a few more or less. Arrange all the filled puffs across two wire racks. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, then set the racks inside the baking sheets.
  18. Make the first batch of caramel: Place a clean, dry heat proof 2-cup measure or a similarly sized heat proof container next to the stove. In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of the sugar (14-ounces|400 grams) and ½ cup water (4-ounces|113 grams). Cook over medium heat, stirring with a heatproof spatula until the sugar is dissolved. When the mixture comes to a boil, stop stirring and wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals. Cook, swirling the pan often, until the mixture starts to turn golden around the sides. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, swirling, until the caramel is a medium amber color (you don’t want to make it too dark since it will continue to darken off the heat). Immediately remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the caramel into the measuring cup. Let the caramel sit for a minute so it starts to set and thicken slightly.
  19. Dip all the puffs: Grasp one puff at a time from the bottom and carefully dip it, rounded-side down, into the caramel so there’s a dome of caramel covering the craquelin-topped surface of the puff. Let the excess drip off, then carefully place the puff caramel-side up back on the rack so it can cool and harden. Repeat with all the puffs. Try to work quickly, because eventually the caramel will thicken and set making it hard to dip, but also work carefully to avoid a sugar burn!
  20. Make the second batch of caramel: Once you&aposve coated all the puffs, rinse the saucepan and measuring cup with lots of hot water to dissolve any remaining caramel. Dry them thoroughly, then repeat the caramel-making process, this time with the remaining 1¼ cups sugar (8.8-ounces|250 grams) and ⅓ cup water (2.7-ounces|76 grams). Pour it into the same clean measuring cup.
  21. Lay out the first ring of cream puffs and dip: Arrange 11 filled, dipped puffs around the foil-lined base in a ring so they’re touching. One at a time, dip one side of each puff into the fresh caramel and stick it back on the base rounded-side out, pressing the dipped edge into the base. Hold it in place until the caramel hardens, which should only take a few seconds. Repeat with all the puffs on the base to make the first ring of the croquembouche.
  22. Build the croquembouche: Repeat the dipping process, building successive rings of cream puffs and decreasing the number of puffs in a ring by one with each layer to create a tall, hollow cone. Try to position each puff in the little space between the two below it, angling it slightly inward to create an even slope building to a peak. Set aside some smaller puffs to fill in any small gaps. You may end up using more or fewer puffs in a layer in order to make a full ring. Finish the croquembouche with a single cream puff on top.
  23. Make caramel threads (optional): If the caramel hasn’t fully set, dip a fork into the measuring cup and let the caramel drip off back into the cup until it falls in a thin thread. Move the fork in a circle around the croquembouche, wrapping the threads around it from top to bottom. Repeat as desired until the caramel is too hardened to drizzle. Arrange any leftover dipped, filled puffs around the base and serve, encouraging everyone to break off the puffs with their hands.

DO AHEAD The croquembouche should be assembled within a couple of hours of serving to ensure the caramel is crunchy and the choux are crisp. Keep it uncovered at room temperature in a cool, dry place. Even though the croquembouche will keep for 1 day, over time the caramel will soften and become sticky. The craquelin dough, covered and refrigerated, will keep up to 3 days. The baked, unfilled puffs, stored airtight at room temperature, will keep for 1 day.

Reprinted from Dessert Person. Copyright © 2020 by Claire Saffitz. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House

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For the Pâte à Choux

  1. For the pâte à choux: Heat oven to 425°. Bring butter, salt, and 1 1 ⁄2 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over high heat. Remove pan from heat, add flour all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a thick dough and pulls away from sides of pan, about 2 minutes. Return pan to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until dough is lightly dried, about 2 minutes more. Transfer dough to a bowl, and let cool for 5 minutes using a wooden spoon, beat in 8 eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Dough will come together and be thick, shiny, and smooth.
  2. Dip two spoons in water, shake off excess, and scoop a walnut-size piece of dough with one spoon. With other spoon, scrape dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet, setting pieces 1″ apart on a baking sheet. Lightly beat remaining egg with pinch of salt and brush each piece of dough with it. Bake until puffed and light brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°, and continue to bake until well browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Spoon pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1 ⁄4″ tip. Gently poke a hole in the flat side of each baked, cooled puff with tip and pipe in filling.
  4. For the caramel: Place 2 cups sugar and 1 ⁄2 cup water in a shallow saucepan and stir to combine. Cover and cook over medium heat until sugar turns light amber, about 15–20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Using tongs, dip top of filled puffs in hot caramel. Place puffs, glazed side up, on a plastic-lined tray. Form base with 12–14 glazed, cooled puffs, sticking them together with more caramel. Add puffs, layer by layer, to form a hollow cone. (Reheat caramel until liquid again if it becomes too thick repeat making more caramel with remaining sugar and 1 ⁄2 cup water when first batch of caramel becomes too thick to work with.) Allow caramel to cool until it is the consistency of honey. With a spoon, drizzle thin strings of caramel around cone let cool until brittle and set. Serve croquembouche within 4 hours of making to ensure the filling doesn’t soften the puffs.

Literally named “crunch in the mouth,” croquembouche is an edible monument of caramelized pastry.

Croquembouche (French Creme Puffs) untried

I found this in my Martha Stewart Christmas entertaining book. thought that it would be great to add.

History of the Croquembouche
Croquembouche is a French dessert made by stacking cream puffs in a conical shape and cementing them together with a toffee. The dessert is typically ornamented with sugared almonds, or other ingredients, and it is designed to be displayed as the centerpiece of a table. This dessert has been used at French weddings, christening and celebrations for centuries, and it is served outside of France to add a French flair to an evening's events.

The croquembouche has a long history. It appears to have been invented by French pastry chef Antoine Careme (1783-1833) in the late 1700s, when it became very popular as a wedding cake. Many of the individual components such as the cream puffs date to the 1500s, illustrating the long history of fine pastries in France.

This pastry concoction is one of a family of desserts known as pièces montées, or "mounted pieces."
A pièce montée is a dessert which is carefully constructed from an assortment of components, and designed to look as ornate and festive as possible. These desserts are often so elaborate that people are hesitant to eat them, and in some cases, a pièce montée may actually be specifically designed to be ornamental, including inedible ingredients like wax or cardboard to support the structure.

This impressive tower of small cream puffs (profiteroles) and caramelized sugar is well worth the effort. Be sure to start the dessert well in advance, taking advantage of all the useful do-aheads. Last minute assembly is a must for the caramelized sugar so allow several hours and have all ingredients ready


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 whole star anise, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 1/2 ounces)
  • 7 large eggs
  • 8 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
  • Edible gold luster dust, for garnish (optional)
  • Whole star anise, for garnish
  • Candied orange peel, for garnish

Stir together heavy cream and star anise in a medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 6 hours or up to overnight.

Stir together 1 1/2 cups water, butter, granulated sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, stirring occasionally. Add flour all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring constantly, until a film develops on bottom of pan and dough pulls away from sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer dough to bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-low speed until slightly cooled, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until mixture comes back together as a smooth dough after each addition. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of dough, and chill at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Transfer one-third of the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Keep remaining dough in refrigerator. Pipe about 26 (1 1/4-inch) mounds 1 inch apart on a large parchment paper&ndashlined baking sheet. (To help make a perfect circle, pipe mounds without moving the tip. Pipe as smoothly and evenly as possible, pulling tip quickly to 1 side when finished with each mound to prevent a Hershey&rsquos Kiss look.) Using a wet finger, gently smooth any &ldquobeaks&rdquo on tops of mounds. Using a spray bottle filled with water, mist mounds, and place in preheated oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 350°F, and bake until golden brown and puffed, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove puffs from oven, and let stand on baking sheet until completely cool, about 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 375°F, and repeat process 2 times with remaining dough. (Make sure you use cool baking sheets each time.) Using a 1/3-inch round piping tip, poke a 1/4-inch-deep hole into bottom of each puff.

Pour chilled cream-anise mixture through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a bowl discard solids. Transfer strained cream mixture to bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat strained cream mixture on medium-high speed, gradually adding powdered sugar, salt, and pepper. Beat until soft peaks form, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Add orange zest and juice, and beat until stiff peaks form, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer orange-anise cream to a piping bag fitted with a 1/3-inch round tip.

Insert tip of piping bag into premade hole of each puff, and fill with orange-anise cream. Dip top of puff in white chocolate. Stack filled cream puffs on a platter in a conical tower. Sprinkle with luster dust, if desired, and decorate with whole star anise and candied orange peel.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C gas mark 4).

Bring the water, salt and butter to the boil in a saucepan. Take off the heat add all the flour and mix well.

Put back on the heat, stirring the mixture all the while and dry the pastry until it starts to stick to the saucepan.

Pour the hot mixture in a bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Using a piping bag, pipe some 1.5" profiteroles on a lined baking tray. Bake for around 30 minutes until they puff up, and become golden and crispy. TIP: it is worthwhile opening the oven half way through the baking for 5 seconds to let the steam out. Leave to cool.

For the crème patissiere: In a saucepan bring the milk and vanilla to the boil.

In a bowl mix the yolks and sugar together and add the cornflour.

Pour over the hot milk, mix well and pour back in the saucepan. Bring back to the boil without stopping whisking. Take off the heat add the butter and mix. Leave to cool and once cooled, add the lemon zest.

Using a small knife pierce each “choux”. In a thick based pan make a nice blond caramel by adding caster sugar to 100mls of water in a saucepan. Boil, then simmer to reduce.

Dip each choux into the caramel and place them caramel side down on a lined baking tray. TIP: keep some cold water close by in case your fingers become sticky from the caramel.

When the caramel is cool, using a piping bag fill each “choux” with the crème patissiere. Using the rest of the caramel build the Croquembouche using a large oiled pastry cutter as a guide for the base. Decorate with caramel spun sugar.