CROQUE-EN-BOUCHE

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How much satisfaction does it give assembling the spectacular Croque-En-Bouche? I can’t even tell you. The Croque-en-bouche is a French dessert created by chef Marie Antonie Careme, the historic “father” of excellent French pastry making. It looks like a “mountain” of stuffed cream puffs, combined and decorated with crunchy caramel and is perfect for celebrating some occasion and making a great impression. Its name comes from the play of soft and crunchy textures and means “crispy in the mouth”. Don’t be alarmed, it’s less complicated than you might think!

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg custard (for the recipe click here and do the appropriate multiplications) – to be made the day before
  • 500 ml of fresh whipping cream with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • 40 small cream puffs (you can buy them already made – or – if you want to make them yourself you can find the recipe here, but you have to make them the day before and keep them in a tightly closed paper bag)
  • Fine granulated sugar – to taste (have at least 800 g available)
  • Sugar to decorate

First, make a small hole in the bottom of the puffs gently with your fingers and make sure the inside is free to be filled.

Whip the cream with the icing sugar. Very delicately incorporate it, a little at a time into the custard without dismantling the mixture (chantilly). You can keep a little cream aside if you want some cream puffs filled with cream only.

Place the Chantilly cream (and the cream if you have kept it aside) into a piping bag with a nozzle of the right size to be able to insert it into the hole at the base of the cream puffs and fill them delicately.

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At this point take the base where you want to mount your croque-en-bouche (and let it be the final base because moving it would be complicated) and place it near the stove. Draw a circle on a sheet of baking paper and place it on the base, it will help you arrange the cream puffs. If it’s your first time I recommend making a ring, like the one you see in the photos of this recipe. Once you have become familiar, try your hand at the cone croque-en-bouche, but I recommend attaching a paper cone to the base to help you assemble everything.

In a pan, slowly melt some of the sugar (100-200 g at a time), stirring slowly, until it takes on a nice blonde color (if necessary you can add, a little at a time, a little water to make it more liquid). Turn off the heat and, quite quickly but without burning yourself (caramel is terrible), pass the rounded side of the cream puff in the caramel so as to cover it and place them on the circle you have drawn, with the side with the caramel facing outwards, close to each other . The caramel will act as a glue and will allow you to join them together firmly. If needed, add a little caramel between the cream puffs with a teaspoon to keep them firm (especially in the first ring).

At this point, continue the operation with the remaining puffs and arrange them in a second ring inside the first (it will make the base more stable) and then a new round on top of the first round, and then on top again, rising in a cone until the puffs are finished. You will prepare the caramel as it finishes, it is not advisable to do it all together as it solidifies and must be dissolved and there is the risk of it overcooking and burning.

Decorations – When you have covered the puffs with caramel you can dip them in a small bowl with sprinkles (you have a thousand choices) and alternate the puffs with caramel only with those with sprinkles for a more beautiful effect.

Once the structure has been assembled with the caramel, you can make strands of caramel, using a fork, dipping it in the slightly warmed liquid caramel and “pulling”. Golden threads will emerge which you can quickly arrange with the same fork on the croque-en-bouche, wrapping it as if it were a nest. It takes a little patience but the effect is remarkable.

On the Croque-e-bouche every idea is good, you can place sugar flowers, macarons, cream puffs covered with colored icing and with different fillings here and there… let your imagination run wild!

Isn’t it beautiful? and the fantastic thing is that you eat with your hands, removing one cream puff at a time… one leads to another. In a word: irresistible.

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