Croquembouche: My Attempt and Observations

Posted on

Because my birthday was not too far away, and because I was sick for it, I thought I would make a birthday cake that was a little unique.  My friend Joseph told me about his desire to make a croquembouche, and so I thought I would give it a try as well.  After all, what can be so difficult about caramel and cream puffs?  Right?

The Croquembouche is a French cake, used for weddings and other special occasions.  It's made of cream puffs (or similar pastries), and generally glued together with caramel in a conical shape.  There have been other interpretations, but this is the one I have found to be the most common.  Therefore, it shouldn't be that difficult to make and put together.

First off, I cheated with the cream puffs.  I have made them in the past, and I don't mind making them, but I didn't have the time to dedicate to making them.  Instead, I purchased them from Costco at $11 for 110 miniature cream puffs.  So that means all I had to do was make the caramel and then start sticking them together. 

The caramel was simple, being just 2 1/2 cups of sugar with 2/3 of a cup of water, boiled until a very light, golden brown.  Once done, I pulled it off the stove, and started dipping and sticking.  Simple, easy, and I sneaked a couple of cream puffs while I did it. 

One thing I did learn very quickly was to be very careful with the caramel.  It's HOT!  I burned two fingertips in the process.  The cone was not perfect, but then I was a bit distracted while I was putting it together.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  But it did end up looking pretty good with the thin slivers of caramel I had decorating the sides. 

Then, after it cooled and we had dinner, I gave it a try.  The cream puffs were great, but the caramel made it way too sweet.  I wasn't too happy with the results, and so I may think about using another adhesive, like chocolate, on the next one I attempt.  Who says French cooking has to be difficult?  ^_^