Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cupcake Croquembouche - Daring Bakers May 2010

"What is THAT?!" You ask? That's what I have been asking myself while staring at this photo. It was supposed to be a chocolate and raspberry croquembouche, stacked into the shape of a cupcake. But things didn't quite go to plan, so it turned out a little messy. All I think when I look at the photo is PAIN. Burning. Mess. Ouch. Those of you in Australia who watched Masterchef last year will be more than familiar with the croquembouche, and the struggles the contestants had with it - flat choux pastry, sugar burns, collapsing cones. Let me just say, I have a renewed respect for those Masterchef contestants.
The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

Life has gotten in the way of my participation in Daring Baker's challenges recently, but it was impossible to pass up this challenge. I've made choux pastry in the past with my eclair notdogs, but I've never assembled an entire croquembouche. And I always love to try something new. Even though...*whispers* I don't like them. Don't hate me! I've just always found choux pastry a little too close to cardboard in texture and flavour, and the combination of it with the hard , crunchy toffee doesn't appeal to me. Perhaps it's just because I experienced too many bad croquembouches at birthday parties, when I all I wanted was a big piece of cake.
But I had to give it a shot. I was curious to see how difficult it would be to create one, without a mould like the metal cone they used in Masterchef. And I wanted to make one that looked like a raspberry cupcake (Get it?? Like me, Raspberri Cupcakes! *snort* yes I'm a total dork :P). So I set about giving it a go. Slow and steady, stress free. I spent one day making the pate a choux; I did one batch with added cocoa powder so they were chocolate, and another batch with pink food colouring. Then I whipped up two batches of pastry cream - one was a gorgeous chocolate crème patissiere and the other was flavoured with raspberry puree. I followed the recipe exactly, though I piped my choux a little smaller than normal as I figured that would make it easier to stack into a weird shape like a cupcake. The little choux puffed up perfectly, hollow and round. It is REALLY fun to bake choux pastry. I love the way they transform from lumps of gluey looking batter into these cute, crisp little puff balls.
Then the next day rolled around. I was cool, calm and collected, filling my choux with pastry creme and dissolving sugar for my first pot of hard caramel glaze. Then it all went a bit pear-shaped. It didn't take long to get my first painful sugar burn while dipping those little choux into the caramel. After that I was wayyy too frazzled to care about how the damn thing looked. It started looking wonky, and the caramel was messily distributed over the choux, but I didn't care! I just wanted to get the thing finished so I could nurse my blisters. So I crankily rushed and finished it, practically threw some silver cachous on top, couldn't be bothered doing any spun sugar and flung a ribbon on it. Not made with love. But it tasted good. And it kind of looks like a cupcakebouche...I guess? Just not quite as pretty as I'd originally envisaged. And in the end, it was worth the 5 or so blisters I got, because it was a real challenge, it was new and it was fun. Next time, (not that I really think there will be a next time), I will remember to dip all my choux with the same amount of toffee so they look more uniform.
Raspberry & Chocolate Cupcake Croquembouche
(based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri)
For the pâte à choux (Yield: About 28, or 40 smaller ones)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs. As I added the last egg, I added about 3 tsp cocoa powder to one batch of batter, and made another batch with pink food colouring added (for the ones that would later be filled with raspberry pastry creams).
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets (mine were closer to 3/4 inch). Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
For the crème patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
For the chocolate pastry cream: 1/4 cup milk + 80g semisweet chocolate
For the raspberry pastry cream: 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries - pureed and strained

If doing chocolate pastry cream: bring milk to the boil in a small pan, remove from the heat and stir in chocolate until completely melted and combined. Set aside to cool.

Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter, vanilla, and chocolate mixture (if making chocolate pastry cream) or raspberry puree (if making raspberry pastry cream). Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.
For the hard caramel glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately. Use the chocolate choux for the base of your 'cupcake' and the raspberry choux for the top. Decorate with sprinkles, cachous and ribbons. (Hopefully a little neater than I did) Thanks to Cat for this extremely fun challenge!
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  1. I think you are to harsh on yourself your cupcake looks fabulous - all I can see is perfection who wouldn't want a puffs from that wondrous dessert it looks amazing. And the flavour combination of chocolate and raspberry sounds delicious and I bet it was tasty. Lovely photos and I like the step by step pixs a lot. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. Amazing !!!!!!! Definitely way to harsh on yourself :) Chocolate and Raspberry are always an amazing combination. Great idea !

  3. You are just too awesome and zomg, look at that hot pink choux pastry batter! Love your work xx

  4. Wow. Wow. Wow. And a thousand times more - Wow! You did a fantastic job on this challenge. I'm glad I have a few more hours to put this together for the challenge hehe. I better go home and start working!!


  5. I do love the mixture of raspberries and chocolate (it is so you!). I can't believe you've pulled off a cupcake croquembouche - again, so you!

  6. This is my favourite one from the challenge. You did a fantastic job. :)

  7. You did absolutely wonderfully Steph! I tried the same one-component-per-day thing as you and still had a minor meltdown on toffee day :)

    I bet it tasted absolutely delicious too - which lucky peeps got to munch on it?

  8. OMGGG steph this is AMAZING!!!!! Your so creative when you bake I dont know how you come up with these ideas.

    Love it how you used raspberries its soo you hehe ^_^

  9. I think this is the least messy croquembouche I've seen so far! SO pretty... I am actually impressed that it didn't collapse with the top bigger than the bottom!!!

    You go girl!!

  10. oh my goodness, i'm blown away and SO jealous!!! i joined daring bakers recently and am perpetually blown away by everyone's creativity! yours turned out fabulous! nicely done.

  11. Steph! You are way too harsh on yourself! This looks amazing! I love it and I would happily devour this!

  12. ahh steph, trust you to make the most craziest croquembouche. I love it, from the awesome choc/raspberry flavours to the cool cupcake shape. Just so you know, it looks beautiful, I don't think you can make it look any more prettier =D

  13. Oh I am sitting here wondering how your mind works. Job well done. And your pink profiteroles are pinker than the ones I've previously made!

  14. dude you are awesome. that is the most awesomest croquembouche! PERFECT!

  15. Too cute! Creative creative Steph!

  16. Your instructions are great, and the end result looks wonderful. Good job, Steph!

  17. Your cupcake is adorable! I am sorry it was a frustrating experience for you, but I think your croquembouche looks amazing - memorable, individual, and totally fabulous!!

  18. Oh... that is absolutely beautiful - you did an incredible job!! :) I'm jealous!! :)

  19. Wow that is a really imaginative structure and it looks great. Def can tell its a cupccakebouche.

  20. What a fantastic and creative job you did! Sorry for the burns, but WOW - very impressive cupcake-bouche!

  21. This is brilliant Steph. A very creative take! I think you're being way too critical on yourself. The rapsberri cupcake idea not only works, it's awesome!

  22. hat off to you. that cupcake croquembouche is awesome! puff pastry in the shape of a cupcake is genius

  23. This is soo awesommeee!! I thought it was a giant raspberrI when I saw the first photo hee hee

  24. Hehe this is so cute! Great idea to make it into the shape of a cupcake :) Do I spy the new cake stand you got from Burnt Orange as well? =P

  25. That looks stunning! Excellent job, all that pain is so worth it!

  26. I don't understand at all why you're so harsh on yourself. This giant profiterole cupcake is amazing. Every month, I have my own little Daring Bakers "roundup" with my favorite Daring Bakers, and your cupcake croquembouche definitely is one of my favorite completed challenges this month!

  27. That's so awesome! Did you build it without any guild/mould inside? Sounds very tasty too :)

  28. I don't think your croquembouche is a mess at all! In fact, this is my favourite croquembouche from the challenge.. It's so creatively done! Don't be too harsh on yourself cause this is definitely a stunning piece of art! :)

  29. This is sensational. Yes it's easy to be critical on yourself but with this creation it's unjustified

  30. Owww, blisters??! But the end result is so fabulous. That's a fine looking raspberry cupcakebouche.

  31. That's one wild cupcakebouche my dear, and you also invented a pretty funny word while you were at it. :) Your flavor combo sounds delicious too!

  32. Okay, that is just WAY too cool. I absolutely adore it. How fun to create your own raspberry cupcakebouche :).

  33. I saw this in the forum. Fabulous and professional. By the way I just piped the little ones with a slim tip.

  34. it does look like a cupcake, its stunning.

  35. Hahahah you never cease to amaze me!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. It totally looks like a cupcake!

    Sorry that the food bit back at you. :(

  37. Great work Steph. I would love to know how you managed to keep the croquembouche standing with such weight at the top - amazing! Love the colours and concept too.

  38. This looks incredible!! You should feel joy not pain! I would be so proud of myself if I were you! Amazing... I don't think I have the guts to attempt something like this!

  39. I love that you made it to look like a cupcake. Great flavour choices and stunning presentation.

  40. That is stunning! You are very creative!! I'm sure it was edelicious too!

  41. It is a heck of a beautiful cupcake :-) Congratulations for such a beautiful creation.

  42. I think that this cream puff cupcake looks fantastic! I love your bright pink profiteroles, so pretty. What a great result after all the painful work that went into it :)

  43. Though not quite the shape of a cupcake (more like a brioche or popover), I hardly think that this is by any means a mess. I still think that you've done a fantastic job of it :)

  44. Audax - Aww thank you so much :) Hehe I always find step by step pics useful so I like to do them for my recipes!

    Wheels and Lollipops - Haha thanks! I love choc and raspberry together :)

    Karen @ Citrus and Candy - Hehe I know how crazy pink is it? Back at ya awesome lady :P

    Memória - :D Thanks! Hope yours turned out well!

    Maria - Thanks! - hehe yay I'm glad you think it's all very me, that's always the plan :D

    Liz - Aww you're too kind! Thanks!

    shez - haha yeah all that careful planning goes out the window when there's burning hot sugar involved! Heh I took half of it in to work after I woke up the next and there was a big gaping hole missing from the top thanks to the bf :P

    Leona - Haha thank you dear! LOL I have a weird brain, what can i say.

    billy@atablefortwo - hahaha oh good! it was very stable actually, that toffee is so string! LOLs thanks billy!

    Lucky Girl - Thanks so much :) Isn't great seeing what everyone comes up with every month? There's always such variety

    Betty @ The Hungry Girl - LOL I am my harshest critic. Thank you!!

    linda - We are the crazy baking bandits after all :P Haha oh i think I could have put in a little more time decorating it but oh wells

    Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! - Thanks so much! My mind works in very mysterious ways hehe. I used pink powdered food colouring, always comes out great!

    chocolatesuze - :D Thanks suze! Auubergine:D

    Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - Thank you Ellie :)

    OohLookBel - Thanks so much!

    Ruth H. - Thank you! I think the end result was worth it :)

    Eyes Bigger Than Belly - Thanks!

    Linda V - Awesome! Glad you can tell :D

    shelley c. - Yeah the burns were sucky but the challenge was fun!

    Helen (grabyourfork) - Thanks so much! I know...I just have a very pretty picture of how I want things to look in my head and it never quite turns out as pretty in real life

    sugarpuffi - Thank you so much!

    FFichiban - Hheheh :) That would have been pretty cool too! Though impossible to make it stand up straight lol

    Jacq - Thanks Jacq! Haha actually I did this before we went, I already had a cake stand...I just needed another one!

    chef_d - Thanks so much! Yes, I think it was worth it :)

    ap269 - Oh I just figure I'd rather be the person being the harshest rather than someone else :)Aww thank you so much, you're too sweet!

    Poires au Chocolat - Thanks! Nope, didn't have any mould inside, just sorta built it up how I thought it should be :D

    Charlotte - Yay! Thanks so much :)

    john@heneedsfood - Aww thank you :) I shall try to be less critical next time!

    Gala - Thanks!

    Emma @CakeMistress - Yes exactly, OW! Thanks :D

    Patty - Haha I tend to do that, making up random words. Thanks!

    Lauren - Hehe thank you! <3

    maybelle's mom said - Cool, thanks!

    Laura - :D thanks!

    Brenda - Hahha thank you!

    cyberiagirl - :D Yay! Haha i know, that kind of sucked

    Anita - it was all about the toffee! it set so fast and held so well that i think it never had a chance of collapsing!

    Clare @ Mrs Multitasker - Aww thanks! I'm glad I attempted it :)

    Baking Addict - It was fun! Thanks!

    Renata - Thanks! I loved the pastry cream even though I'm not a huge fan of croquembouches in general!

    UFRV - Aww thanks :)

    Lucy - Thanks so much! It was fun doing the pink ones :)

    Simon @ the heart of food - Haha yeah you're right. I realised after doing the first two rows of pink ones that i should have made them stick out more but by then it was too late to change the shape :(

  45. I would love to try this this weekend. Why did you post only half the batch of creme patisserie? Was it enough for all your profiteroles, or do I need to double the quantities?

  46. Jess - You need to do one half batch with the chocolate and one half batch with the raspberries. I only posted the amounts for the half batch since you have to do each flavour separately :)

  47. Wow! Your 'bad' would be my 'freaking awesome'. You did a fabulous job!


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