The croquembouche is a traditional dessert for occasions such as weddings or christenings in France. It combines several techniques, so the best way to make one is to go one step at a time. This is probably one of the most complex recipes I’ve converted since becoming coeliac and it is one of my specialties 🙂 You’ll need two days, quite a bit of courage and to love a good challenge 😉
A good place to start is to make the choux pastry the day before making the croquembouche (see choux pastry recipe here) and to prepare a rigid structure made of polystyrene (covered with aluminium) or wire netting.
Then start with the croquembouche itself on the day of the event.
You will need 4 to 6 hours depending on your level of experience with the different steps of the recipe.
For 15 persons: 45 choux, 3 choux per person.
Step 1: Making the fluffy vanilla filling
- 500ml of soja milk (or milk)
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla
- 3 egg yolks
- 100g of sugar
- 50g of corn starch
- 400ml whole fresh cream
Preparation: 30 minutes
Refrigeration: 1 hour
- In a saucepan bring to a light simmer the soja milk (or milk) and the vanilla.
- In a glass bowl, mix the corn starch with the yolks and the sugar.
- Add half of the milk when it starts to simmer and mix well to avoid lumps.
- Pour the mixture back in the saucepan and mix energetically at low heat until the cream thickens.
- Keep mixing for 2 to 3 minutes to make sure the cream is cooked.
- Pour into a bowl, put a film directly on the cream to protect it from oxygen contact and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Whip the fresh cream until it is frothy and you can turn the bowl upside down.
- Add the whipped cream little by little to the vanilla cream by making large circles and lifting the cream with a spatula.
- Film in contact again and refrigerate until cool.
Step 2: Filling, closing and fixing the choux
Prepare the structure, a pastry bag or syringe and a small nozzle tip.
Ingredients: For the caramel
- 200g of sugar
- 50ml of water
- 1 pinch of salt
Preparation: 5 minutes
- Start by making small holes into the bottom of your choux the size of your nozzle tip.
- Place the vanilla filling in the pastry bag of syringe.
- Fill all your choux as much as you can without breaking them.
- In a pan, mix the sugar with the salt and water at high heat.
- When the sugar starts to turn into caramel, lower the heat to a minimum to keep it from burning. If it sets, heat up the pan a little more, if it burns, you need to throw away the caramel and start a new batch.
- Place the structure near you on a plate and wear heatproof gloves if possible.
- Take each choux by the top and carefully dip them into the caramel.
- Place them immediately on the structure and hold them there until the caramel cools down and settles.
- Repeat the operation until you have no choux left and the hole structure is covered.
In case you burn yourself, submerge the burn in cold water immediately and add ice. Leave it there for 10 minutes, change the water and repeat the operation. Consult a doctor if the burn is severe.
Step 3: Making the nougatine
You will need a marble, granite or stainless steel surface close by the oven to stretch the nougatine and shape it. A metal or heatproof rolling pin is also essential.
- 400g of glucose sirup (in specialised pastry shops)
- 750g of sugar
- 50g of melted butter
- 500g of toasted almonds
Preparation: 1 hour (30 minutes if you use already toasted almonds)
- Weight all the ingredients before beginning this recipe.
- Start by toasting the almonds.
- Heat up your oven to 150°C (300°F).
- Prepare a tray covered with oiled baking paper.
- In a saucepan, melt the glucose sirup.
- Add the sugar little by little and mix with a wooden spatula.
- Add the melted butter when the mixture turns golden.
- Add the almonds and mix them delicately in the caramel.
- Heat up the saucepan to melt the nougatine off the bottom and spread it on the baking paper.
- Place the tray in the oven with the door open to keep it soft and work on oiled marble, granite or stainless steel.
- Use a knife and spatula to cut the desired amount of nougatine and spread it on the oiled surface with a metal rolling pin as quickly as possible.
- Before it cools down completely, use a sharp knife and give little taps to cut and shape the nougatine the way you would use a chisel and hammer to carve stone.
Step 4: Icing and decorations
You will need a strong syringe and a small nozzle tip.
- 3 egg whites
- 300g of icing sugar
- 2 drops of lemon
- The colour of your choice (optional)
- decorations (meringues, dragée…)
Preparation 5 minutes
Settling: 15 minutes
- Mix all the ingredient together.
- Fill the syringe.
- Decorate the nougatine when it is cold and lying flat on the countertop.
- Wait until the decor solidifies before fixing the nougatine to the structure with caramel.
- Fix the decorations of your choice with some caramel.
Last tip: Keep the Croquembouche in a cool place with no humidity. Hot and humid environments melt the caramel and the croquembouche runs the risk of crumbling down.