30 maggio 2010

May DB Challenge - Croquembouche or Pièce Montée

la versione in italiano qui

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.

It was a very nice challenge, I did pate a choux before and I was used to it.
But I realized very late it was already time to post about the challenge and I did everything on 27th, in the afternoon. One of my daughter-in-law helped me and I really needed a hand, it was late and we did not have much time!
All my boys coming in and out the kitchen and seeing us so busy with such wonderful and delicious things, were asking why and who for was the cake, wondering which birthday was in calendar, trying to grab something to taste and making me scream all the time to run away quichly from the kitchen or I would have beaten their bottom with a wooden spoon!
And finally we did it! Pictures are not the best but it was late, sunset time and light not so bright ... but our pièce montée was very, very, very good indeed!
I used chocolate pastry cream for filling, chocolate glaze to assemble and on top of pate à choux and granulated sugar to garnish ... I would have liked to garnish the pièce montée with caramel but I didn't feel very comfortable with it, was in a hurry and did not have time enough to get confident, just able to shape a little star ... but that will be my summer homework, practicing with caramel decorations!
I would have liked to garnish with rose blossoms but a terrible storm in the afternoon spoiled most all flowers, just gathered some pale pink petals of my ClairMatin and a few red roses.


Preparation time: You will want to use your puff pastry batter and chocolate glaze or caramel as soon as it has been prepared and as close to serving time as possible. This is not a dessert that stores well and it may be a bit temperamental in humid areas as the glaze needs to harden to hold the choux together. The crème patissiere can be made a couple of days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use.
You will need approximately 10 minutes to prepare the puff pastry, 10 minutes to pipe and about 30 minutes to bake each batch. The crème patissiere should take about 10 minutes to cook and then will need to be cooled for at least 6 hours or overnight. The glazes take about 10 minutes to prepare.

Equipment required:
• several baking sheets
• parchment paper
• a whisk
• a pastry brush (for the egg wash)
• a pastry bag and tip (a plain tip or no tip is best for piping the puff pastry; you can use a plain or star tip to fill the puff pastry with the cream)
• a flat surface such as a baking sheet or cake board/stand on which to assemble your piece montée
• some of the items you may want to use to decorate your piece montée include ribbons, Jordan almonds, fresh flowers, sugar cookie cut-outs, chocolates, etc.


For the Vanilla 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

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ 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 and vanilla.
Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

For Chocolate Pastry Cream (Half Batch Recipe):
Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.

For Coffee Pastry Cream (Half Batch recipe)
Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 ½ teaspoons boiling water. Whisk into pastry cream with butter and vanilla.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
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.

bigné - pate à choux

Preparing batter:
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.

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. 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).

bigné - pate à choux
Mr. Puff and a funny one on the back

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.
choco pastry cream

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.
Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.

Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)

Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

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.

Assembly of your Piece Montée
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.
Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video below).


When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

Here are some videos you may want to take a look at before you get started on your piece montée.

rose  dopo la pioggia
Thank you, Cat, for this lovely and delicious recipe!

5 commenti:

natalia ha detto...

Ma quanto è bello Cinzia ! Io sono stata moolto casinara e di fretta ogni volta mi riprometto che la prossima volta lo farò subito....Baci

Renata ha detto...

Your puffs are amazing! Gorgeous coroquembouche!
Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog!

Dewi ha detto...

apparently I was not alone then. I did mine pretty late too. But, Better late then never, right? your puff look beautifully puffy.

Ago ha detto...

Eccotiii Cinzia!!! Lo sapevo che l'avresti fatto, anche se, poverina, ho letto tutto il da fare che hai in questi giorni e quindi doppi complimenti!!! :-D
Un bacione

Cindystar ha detto...

Natalia, sapessi che quella promessa la faccio ogni primo del mese appena leggo la sfida ma poi ... sigh, sigh, sono lacrime amare quando sin fa tutto di fretta l'ultimo giorno! ... per questo mese, invece, mi sono presa moooolto in tempo, abbiamo gustato oggi la Pavlova in corso, complice i festeggiamenti di due compleanni, un amico e un figlio. Devo dirti che èmolto buona, anche se io avrei fatto la meringa bianca per avere più contrasto di colori. se ti possso dare un consiglio, dimezza la crema inglese e la conseguente crema di accompagnamento perchè è veramente tanta!

Thanks again, Renata, but you were the best of all for me in this challenge!

Elra, time is our first enemy, isn't it?

Ago, ce l'ho fatta proprio allo scadere, mi sentivo un pochino la Cenerentola di turno in cucina! ... ma devo imparare i ghirigori col caramello, mi fanno troppo impazzire ... ed ora, dopo tutti i bei croquembouche che ho visto, è diventata una questione di principio!

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