Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Croquembouche' for Christmas.

This is the one I made from scratch for a friend's party last Saturday night. We had the left overs for Breakfast the next morning. Yum!

     The Croquembouche' desert has been made in France since the 17th century. It was made for weddings, Christmas and other special events. It is said that it was invented in 1788 by a French Chief,Antoine Creme' It is from a family of deserts known as."pieces montees," or mounted pieces.This is a form of desert that is constructed from several components and designed to look festive. A cone shape is the usual shape desired and this is perfect for Christmas, as it resembles the Christmas Tree, They are often so beautiful, that people hesitate to eat them.The word ,"croquembouche'," roughly means ,"crack in your mouth." A croquembouche' is a cone of cream puffs, filled with pastry cream, and coated with spun sugar caramel,made to look like a spider web.This is a very traditional wedding cake and is also popular at Christmas. This desert is more well known in it's native France, but does appear on some American tables. The French brought the receipt to New Orleans and it has traveled all over America, Very popular with pastry chefs in fine hotels and the White House.
     The Croquembouche' has been a long time favorite of mine. The first time I saw this desert was in New Orleans. I  happened to be there at Christmas, and took a tour of the Herman Grimma House Museum, where 4 of these deserts were displayed on the dining room table. I have been making them at Christmas ever since. The cream puffs will hold up for days and if not eaten for months. The sugar makes a semi hard crust on the puffs. When you bite into one, the first taste you get is the caramel , then the pastry and finally the reach soft cream. They are a delight. They are a little trouble to make, but well worth it, when you see people's face as they view them for the first time, and finally when they taste them.
   I hope someday you will try and make one for your next party or event. If you don't feel inclined to do so, you can always order one from your favorite bakery. I have also in a pinch, bought the ready made cream puffs, frozen from Sam's Club,  assembled them ,and no one knew the difference.That is, unless you tell!
    I hope you all are getting ready for Christmas, with the tree up, baking done and family arriving. Please stop by any time for a read and a tour at, My Old Historic House. I will always leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will meet you with a jump and a kiss and we  will  have some Croquembouche'  for you to taste. And if you want to make your own, I am closing with the receipt.Have fun and enjoy!

This is the one I saw at the Herman Grimma House Museum in New Orleans,

This one I made for the table at, My Old Historic House. I confess, I did not add the pastry cream as I wanted  this one to last all month on display.

Pastry Cream:
1 1/4 cups whole milk.
3 egg yokes
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla.
1/4 cup sugar
   In a small pan warm the milk over low heat until is is just hot enough to steam.
While the milk is warming, whisk together egg yokes, sugar, flour and corn starch until mixture is smooth.
Once the milk is steaming add 1/2 of it, whisking constantly to the egg mixture.
Add the milk and eggs back into the milk, continue stirring for 1-2 minutes or until the custard reaches 170 or is very thick. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and chill the cream before filling , about 2 hours.

1 cup butter
2 cups water
pinch salt
2 cups all purpose flour
8 eggs
    In a medium saucepan, melt butter in the water , add salt and stir until a thick batter is formed, beat in the eggs , one at a time, until the butter is smooth.
   Preheat oven to 400 and grease 2 baking sheets. Spoon the prepared dough into 24 small rounds on each sheet, Bake for 30 -35 minutes until they puff up  and are golden brown.Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before you  fill them.
   Place the pastry cream into a pastry bag and  and fill each puff with about 1 tablespoon of cream.

Spun Caramel Sugar :
2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cups water.
    Put sugar into a medium sauce pan and pour water over it. Once the mixture is up to a simmer, wipe down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush. Boil; the sugar for 15-20 minutes -until it turns pale golden brown. Do not let it burn .Remove pan from heat and put pan in ice water for about 5 seconds to stop the cooking process. After the sugar cools for 5 or 10 minutes, should have the consistency of maple sugar, you need to work fast.
    Dip each puff ,one at a time, into the melted sugar and arrangement to make your bush. Do one whole layer at a time.After all the puffs are assembled, lightly drizzle the remaining sugar, over the bush ,to forma cobweb of sugar.
  This  makes about 48 medium sized servings. If this is your first try at making this, I would suggest you have a friend to help with the dipping and stacking, as the sugar can cool fast. To make a bigger bush,  I would do it one batch at a time, especially the sugar assembly.
   Good luck, have fun, enjoy! They are so good. If you want to use the ready made and filled cream puffs, just do the sugar part and you'll be home free. I expect pictures. Merry Christmas.
At the party this past weekend.


Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

Oh my...yum! How beautiful too!

Charm Bracelet Diva said...

Oh Richard, the only other ones I've seen besides yours were in Martha Stewart Magazine years ago, and I can't tell the difference! They're beautiful and absolutely mouth-watering! I've been a bit intimidated to make one but maybe now I will! Thanks for the recipe! Cheers!

Tracey@Breathing English Air said...

This I have got to try! Thanks for posting the recipe.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Richard:
These look, and we are certain are, absolutely amazing and would, surely, impress the most critical of guests. As for attempting to make them ourselves, even with your very clear receipt, we do know our limitations. At present we are not much beyond the boiling of an egg!!

red.neck chic said...


And now I'm hungry... but yours is AMAZING!!!

;-D robelyn

Curtains in My Tree said...

My mouth is watering for a piece of that Croquembouche'

you are just amazing ,all of your talents you just keep showing us over and over.

Interior designer, chef, historian, dog rescuer, and a great friend to many

Merry Christmas Richard & Sissy

Stacy Leigh said...

That is fabulous!! You are amazing!!!

Butterbean Row said...

My goodness! You have outdone us all in blogdom. LOL That is beautiful and so festive. I know it must be delicious too. Thanks for posting the recipe. I may just try it!


Deanna said...

Sweet Holiday Seasonal Blessings to you!

Lovely party with refreshments to treat oneself with. Delicious.

Merry Christmas,

Rosemary@villabarnes said...

Gooey Goodness!!! Even your food has great patina.

La Vie Quotidienne said...

I have never made one of these, but I have always wanted to...they are so wonderful and delicious too. Merry Christmas.

Heirlooms by Ashton House said...

It looks oh so elegant—and scrumptious, too, I might add!

Sweet Old Vintage said...

wow... i make cream puffs but have never taken it to this level...

andrew1860 said...

Your Croquembouche looks wonderful! I have had many at weddings in France and living in New Orleans. It looks so compacted that I would not attempt to make one but do enjoy eating them. Thanks for the post.

jeanetteann said...

ooooh how lovely. My daughter bought me one of those for my birthday once,they are lovely and you made such a beautiful job of yours,you are so clever. I love the ribbons and bows hanging from the chandelier. Off to try your recipe,thanks Richard for sharing xx jeanette Merry Christmas

Ivy and Elephants said...

Richard these look absolutely, yum-o! I don't know if I'll get to make them with all the rushing around of the season, but that Sam's Club trip sounds like a real possibility! LOL
Thanks for the recipe, I'm adding it to my file. Hope you can share with us at "What's It Wednesday", we'd love to have you.

Pearl said...

That sounds so good Richard! So much history I love it!

mississippi artist said...

Back in the day when I had more than five minutes to do anything, I made these. They are so good! I don't know how you find the time!Your table is beautiful. I hope you gave Sissy a bite!

Mary said...

It looks and sounds wonderful! New Orleans is the place for creating delicious food as well as traditions. I love NOLA!

Janie said...

WOW! That is beautiful Richard. I've always considered the Croquembouche a creation to be attempted only by a very talented few. I haven't changed my opinion & clearly you are part of that elite group!

Sissysmom said...

Well...I just lost 33 lbs and I'm sure I gained half of that back just reading this post! It sounds delish!!!!

Give Sissy Dog a pat on the head from me.

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Wow! What a pretty presentation! I would not even attempt to make one of those - you are braver than I am.
Hope you are enjoying the holidays.

Sea Witch said...

Oh yum! Lovely display, haven't made one of those in decades. Always love the spun sugar part. Have a Merry Christmas.

Babs said...

Richard.. you made a Croquembouche'? I'm impressed!! Well done!

Tallulah's Antique Closet said...

Hi Richard, I just luv the way your home look's during Christmas and the tree is beautiful. Thank You for stopping by for a visit have a good weekend...Julian

Marcia said...

This looks so festive, plus so yummy! Please invite me over the next time you make this fabulous (thing I can't pronounce)!

Love Of Quilts said...

Thanks for the recipe! I have never heard of these...they look yummy. Blessing Trish

Johanna said...

Hello Richard,
this is really "très chic". The dessert buffet looks gorgeous with the ribbons from the chandelier. You bring the Old Histroric house to its best.
Season greetings, Johanna

Diann said...

I have always wanted to make one of these but, was afraid to try it. But, with you recipe, I might just have to try it. Maybe as a surprise for Valentines day.

LANA said...

Looks so elegant! But lazy me I think I will try it with the Costco frozen cream puffs!

Shelia said...

HI Richard! I believe you get the award for the most fancy desert! That looks amazing! I just can't imagine making something like this! I'm sure it was a hit with the eaters! :)
Hope your Christmasing is going well.
Be a sweetie,

poppilinnstudios said...

Beautiful Christmas dessert! I've been making cream puffs forever and never thought to make this. I love the spun sugar too!

SamsClub said...

Richard, This is absolutely gorgeous! I would love to have this as the centerpiece for my holiday dinner. Great tip using the premade cream puffs! You might like to try our Artisan Fresh Decadent Cake Balls,, or this Cheesecake Factory Reese's Peanut Butter Cheesecake,, for a quick dessert that seems completely homemade. Let us know if you try them and thanks for shopping at Sam’s Club! – Carrie from Sam’s Club

Tracey@Breathing English Air said...

I followed your recipe and made a Croquembouche as my son's birthday cake yesterday. I didn't quite get the pyramid shape right, heap would be a fair description! However, it tasted delicious and my son loved it, so that's the main thing. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

Alison @ The Polohouse said...

You put Martha to shame!
This looks amazing!
I did make one of these just once.
I have the wire whisk I used... cut all the looped ends off.... still planning to use it again, someday!

Love reading the history behind the dessert. So delicious.
Thanks for sharing.

Ms. Burrito said...

Very pretty!

Beside the Christmas Tree, happy holidays!

Bruce Barone said...

My aunt made these all the time. I was a child then. And boy did I love them! I am going to try to make them this week! Also, with the left-over diced turnips I made turnip fritters! YUM!!!

Honey at 2805 said...

Beautiful and festive, Richard!

Thank you for linking to Potpourri Friday! May you have a Merry Christmas and the Happiest of Holidays!

Mary Ellen said...

Love all your pretty feather trees Richard! You home is just beautiful- my house wants to be your house when it grows up!

Lizabeth @ Infuse With Liz said...

My eyes got big when I saw your old tree. I have my grandmother's from the early 1900's. It's over 100 years old now. Perhaps I can send you a picture if you email me.
I love how you decorated yours. Mine is knid of sad (from being store so many times) I don't bend the branches anymore because I fear it is so tired it won't last much longer.
Your collection of trees is wonderful. This is one old fashioned look I do adore!
Your Croquembouche' looks amazing! You are quite the talent!
Merry Christmas Richard and blessings to you for a good New Year!

House of Pinheiro said...

They look beyond delicious !!!

Im your newest follower.. You may ant to check out my blog too.

Merry christmas !

lvroftiques said...

Yummmmmmmm!! And perfect for decoration too! Thanks for sharing the recipe....I think I might opt for the already made variety *winks* But I'll keep my lips sealed lol! Vanna