The first time I tried making croquembouche, I’ll be honest, I was nervous. It looks intimidating.
I ended up making the cream puffs too large and didn’t have enough. I was so disappointed when I went to stack them into a tower and only made it up 80% of the way.
I just took it apart and was done. Taking it apart was difficult because I also cooked the caramel too long, and it was super thick when I dipped each cream puff making them impossible to eat 🙁 .
This ended up being the last recipe I attempted in 2017…
Difficulty in 2020: 2/5
How long it took me: About 5 hours total. I made a double batch of the vanilla bean pastry cream as well as the cream puffs the day before, which took about 2 hours total. I mixed the chocolate, raspberry, and lemon pastry cream the next day, then turned all the pastry creams into crème diplomate. It took 2 hours to fill the cream puffs as well as put the caramel on them and then make the tower.
THIS TIME the cream puffs turned out perfectly and were sized perfectly-I literally had just enough to make the tower, the pastry cream was super yummy, and the caramel was thin! I couldn’t be happier with this!
Croquembouche literally means “crunch in the mouth”. Perfect name considering cream puffs are put together with a thin layer of caramel 🙂 Croquembouche is also apparently the celebration cake in France! How fun would it be to have this as a dessert at your wedding or birthday!
To start out, cream puffs are made! I decided to make these as well as the pastry cream the day before so it wouldn’t be so much to make and I wouldn’t be as exhausted.
This time, I really paid attention to the sizing and made sure I piped 1-inch rounds (that’s tiny!). Now, he said it’d make 110, but I’m pretty sure I had about 100. Still worked good, thankfully.
Some of my cream puffs cracked a bit…not sure what that means, but they’re still delicious.
Again, I had made the vanilla pastry cream the day before, which helped tremendously. It really doesn’t take long to make, but it is still one more thing to do, and I definitely wanted to make the tower building day as stress-free as possible.
Day 2 I made crème diplomate, which is literally making homemade whipped cream and then adding the pastry cream to it. This helps make the filling stiffer so the cream puffs won’t get soggy as quickly! I also feel like it adds to the lightness of the croquembouche. After I made that, I separated the crème diplomate into a few bowls and made chocolate, raspberry, and lemon flavors 🙂
After that, caramel is made. This time (FINALLY) it turned out! The front of each cream puff is dipped into the caramel.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I have two candy thermometers…look at the temperatures, they’re different! Last time I made macarons, I noticed the caramel starting to turn dark when the temp still wasn’t high yet, so I knew something was wrong. I checked it by using my other thermometer, and it was definitely off! This is just me being lazy because I forgot to throw away the bad one and didn’t know which one it was lol!
At this point, it’s time to start building the tower. A styrofoam cone is covered with aluminum foil and a teensy bit of oil (don’t skip this or else ALL of the cream puffs will stick to the cone!!!
First, all cream puffs are dipped into the caramel on top.
Next comes the “trickier” part. Assembling. The first cream puff that you put on the display needs to be dipped into the caramel again, but on the back and right side. Immediately put it on the bottom of the cone. The caramel on the back ensures it will stick to the cone! Each cream puff after the first is dipped only on the right side, until you get all around the cone back to the first cream puff.
The second layer’s first cream puff is dipped on the bottom so it adheres to the first layer, then also dipped on the right side, and the layer continues in that way; however, the layer must be glued into the spaces between the puffs of the bottom row.
This goes on forever, until you get to the top of the tower!
Once you get to the top, the top cream puff is dipped on the bottom to stick to the rest. All the caramelized strands that are around the tower just happen when you’re putting the cream puffs on it. It’s so incredibly beautiful ♥︎
This is what it looked like complete:
Beautiful…but it was definitely missing something…so I went out to my garden and brought in some of my favorite flowers, delphiniums.
Obviously not edible, but it was exactly what it needed.
Ugh. The caramel makes me so happy! Just the look of this makes my heart so happy.
If you look close, you can see the aluminum foil-I didn’t take it off the cone for photos lol. Oh well.
I was so proud of myself for accomplishing it this time!
After photos, we immediately demolished it so we could eat it 🙂
Yum. Light but crunchy caramel and perfect crème diplomate. THIS is why Jacquy’s chapter of French classics starts out with the easiest recipe first. He slowly increases the difficulty so by the time I got to the croquembouche, it was a cinch!
Sooo….would I make this again? Absolutely; however, Jacquy says it has to be put together a maximum of 8 hours before an event and then refrigerated, which would be slightly nervewracking. I loved everything about this though, and I was so happy it turned out! It was incredible this time to have more confidence in myself, knowing that it would look good because I’ve practiced so many recipes leading up to this with all the components needed to make it!