Monday, December 20, 2010

Croquembouche-Part II

I woke up early the other morning to make the cream puffs so I could finish the assembly of the croquembouche.  The making of the cream puffs went off without a hitch, minus the smoke detector going off a few times.  Love that our condo has great insulation and does not let cold air in, but at times when I cook the smallest amount of smoke can set the thing off.  When it does, that means running and opening all of the windows and then fanning a towel underneath the smoke detector in the hall to stop the annoying beeping.

So the cream puffs were made, then came time to fill them with the caramel pastry cream.  I need practice on this part.  As usually happens with me when I attempt to use a pastry bag, whatever is in the pastry bag oozes out of the top and gets my hands totally sticky.  I almost got all of the puffs filled but ran out of pastry cream so the last few had to go without.  Next time (if there will be one, more on that later), I will know to make more pastry cream.

So with the puffs filled, it came time to make the caramel and the assembly of the croquembouche.  The first attempt of making the caramel was quickly aborted as the sugar starting burning in the bottom of the pan.  Round two went much better.  The dipping of the puffs went smoothly, only got some on my fingers once or twice (good thing for the container of ice water I had nearby).  The assembly of the cream puff tower went much smoother than I thought it would.  Learned that it does help to hold the puffs a few seconds so the caramel has a chance to start to harden before letting go.  My tower did not turn out exactly how I had envisioned, but overall I was happy with it.  People were quite impressed with it, so I guess that makes it all worth while.

Now, will I be making a croquembouche again?  Honestly, probably not anytime soon.  I'm glad I did make one, but it is a lot of work.  Anyway, below is a picture of the final product.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Croquembouche-Part I

A good friend hosts an annual Chriskwanhanuka Party every year.  Everyone brings a dish to share and a white elephant gift.  This year, since I am waiting for my first Daring Kitchen challenges and know that the croquembouche was a previous challenge, I decided to attempt one of my own for the party.  For those that don't know, a croquembouche is a French dessert consisting of cream puffs filled with pastry cream and covered in a hard think caramel and then usually stacked together in an impressive pyramid or cone shape. The name means crunch in the mouth, the sound the caramel makes when one bites into one of the puffs.

I've made cream puffs before, so that should be an easy part and I plan to make them tomorrow.  The pastry cream, on the  other hand, was a new experience.  I decided to make a caramel pastry cream.  I think I was successful since it tastes good. I honestly have to say that it is not my one of my favorite things in the world right off the bat, but I may find it to be better when the croquembouche all comes together.  Below is a picture of the finished product.  Tomorrow, comes the baking of the cream puffs and the assembly of the croquembouche (the part that scares me the most, and think will be the most challenging).

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Adventures Begins

I've always loved to cook and bake.  I can watch the Food Network and Top Chef for hours (enough to drive my other half to the point of asking, "Can we please watch something else, please?").  So, I've decided to join the Daring Kitchen website.  So each month I will be presented, along with many others, a cooking and baking challenge.  I'm looking forward to the adventures that await me!