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Master Chef & a Croquembouche Workshop

With Master Chef being all the rage and the topic of conversations here in New Zealand at the moment, yes..yes..I know we are a bit behind, I though it would be rather appropriate to hold a workshop with one of the ‘hardest’ challenges from the series. Croquembouche, something a lot of people had not even heard of until the final round of the NZ Master Chef and I was going to get everyone recreate there own in a three hour session! A mini one of course, not the huge tower one associates with a French wedding croquembouche but we were going to make everything from scratch; profiteroles, pastry crème & caramel toffee. The girls did an excellent job and here is their evidence, although I don’t think the evidence was around for long!

Below is the recipe we used from the Australian chef Adriano Zumbo, it isn’t difficult it just takes some time and you really need to put about 3 hours aside to complete it. Alternatively you could prepare the profiteroles and pastry crème a day ahead and then make the caramel and assemble the tower the day you are going to present it. I say present as it is rather impressive to offer guests even if it isn’t perfectly symmetrical. We ‘free formed’ ours rather than use a cone, in which case you start at the base and and allow each profiterole with caramel on it to set before adding the second layer, this takes no time at all.

Makes 50 – 60 profiteroles, the ones pictured are half of the below mixture each.

Choux Pastry Ingredients

  • 200g Water
  • 275g Milk
  • 10g Sugar
  • 10g Salt
  • 200g Butter
  • 265g Flour
  • 8 Eggs

Choux Pastry Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200C fan bake and lightly grease 2-3 oven trays and set aside.
  • In a large pan combine the butter with water, sugar, milk & salt and bring to the boil.
  • Remove from the heat and using a wooden spoon quickly beat in the flour.
  • Return to the heat and continue cooking & beating until the mixture comes together and leaves the side of the pan, about 2 minutes to cook flour.
  • Remove from heat and allow cool slightly.
  • Transfer to a large bowl beat the mixture to release any more heat.
  • Gradually add the eggs, one at a time.
  • Beat well between each addition until all the eggs have been added and the mixture is thick and glossy. Beat for a few more minutes, or until thickened.
  • Allow to cool before piping
  • Spoon the mixture, in batches, into a piping bag fitted with a 1.25-1.5cm nozzle.
  • Cover remaining pastry with cling film to prevent drying out.
  • Pipe mixture onto trays about 3cm x 2cm high leaving room for spreading.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, in batches, or until firm and hollow when tapped.
  • Transfer puffs to wire racks.

Pastry Cream Ingredients

  • Milk  600ml
  • Eggs Yolks 165g
  • Sugar  165g
  • Cornflour 65g
  • Butter  65g
  • Vanilla 1 bean

Pastry Cream Method

  • To make the pastry cream, place milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan.
  • Heat gently until the milk almost boils, remove from the heat.
  • Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until thick and pale. Gradually whisk in the warm milk.
  • Return mixture to same saucepan and stir over medium heat until the custard boils.
  • Spread over a tray to cool rapidly. Cover the surface of the custard closely with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming, at 55°C transfer to a bowl and stir through butter and refrigerate to cool completely.
  • Put custard into a piping bag with a nozzle less than 1cm.
  • Poke a small hole in the base of each puff and fill with custard

Caramel Ingredients

  • Sugar  330g
  • Water  100g
  • Glucose 130g

Caramel Method

  • For the caramel, combine water and sugar in a saucepan until it boils.
  • Add glucose, and cook until caramel in colour.
  • Remove from the heat and dip the base of the pan in a bowl of water to cool slightly. Grease a cake ring and place ring mould on a baking paper lined tray, pour enough caramel to coat the base 5mm. This is the base for the croquembouche
  • Dip the puff bases in enough toffee to coat and place upside down on a tray lined with baking paper.
  • To assemble, oil the croquembouche cone.  Dip the sides of the puff balls in the toffee one at a time and place around the base of the cone. Continue adding balls until the cone is covered.
  • Transfer the base for the croquembouche to a serving plate. Place a small amount of caramel on the base. Grasp croquembouche gently and lift from the cone and place on the caramel base.
  • Re-heat the remaining toffee then dip two forks back to back in it. Spin toffee around the Croquembouche. Decorate with violets or sugar flowers.
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow. Now that I’ve made my own croquembouche for the DB challenge, I must say that what you all have done is fantastic!! They look perfect!

    August 5, 2010
  2. Bev #

    Oh, Wow!! They look beautiful! I am definitely going to try this one at my next dinner party. What a hit it will be!!

    August 6, 2010
  3. Tania #

    Well, here goes – I’ve done the class now attempting it on my own for a dinner party. Definitely made me ‘branch out’ a little.
    Thanks Allison🙂

    September 16, 2010

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