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Firstly, Happy New year everyone! I know it is a little late but I’ve been working on this fancy creation. So here it is ‘The Croquembouche’ or more commonly known as lots of choux pastry balls piled into a cone shape. As I have so reliably been informed recently it is a popular French and Italian dessert served at weddings, but I think it is a great idea for anyone thinking of throwing a get together or party this year.

The great thing with this dessert is you can make it as tall or short as you like depending on how many choux buns you want to make. Now, I will be the first to admit that my first attempt at this dessert is not perfect and looks more like ‘The Leaning Tower of Pisa’ but like I said it was my first attempt at anything like this.

So in a really snapshot view the recipe goes something like this; bake and fill 60 or more choux pastry balls; make a cone template shape from paper and foil; dip each of the choux pastry balls and stack them inside the template, slowly building the shape; place in the fridge to set before turning out onto a board or plate and live in hope that it stays standing for longer than 5 seconds. See it sounds easy!

Here’s the full recipe that I followed if you fancy giving it a go:

Pre heat your oven to gas mark 7 (220°C) and lightly grease, with butter, 2 large baking trays. In a pan add 300ml cold water and 100g unsalted butter. On a medium heat melt the butter before bringing the mixture to the boil. As soon as it comes to the boil remove from the heat and quickly beat in 150g plain flour until the mixture is smooth but comes away from the sides of the pan. Gradually add 4 eggs into the mixture until smooth and glossy before scooping into a piping bag. Onto the baking tray pipe small amounts of the mixture, about the size of a 2 pence piece. Place in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes and put a deep tray filled with water in the base of the oven as this will generate steam to make the pastry crispy. Leave until they have risen into small pastry balls and have a golden brown colour, if they are still soft then leave for a little longer. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully.

Using a skewer make a small hole in the base of each of the choux pastry balls. Whip 300ml double cream until it has thickened and pour into a prepared piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe the cream into each of the choux pastry balls until they are completely filled, be careful not to overfill them though as it will cause the pastry to split.

You will now need to make the paper cone as this will be needed for assembly of the dessert, there are a lot of videos on the internet that show you how to construct one of these from A3 paper and foil if you do not know already.

In a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water on the hob melt 200g chocolate. Taking the foil cone template, place one of the choux pastry balls in the base of the template. Now gradually dip each of the choux pastry balls in the chocolate and place inside the cone slowly building up the cone shape, make sure to compact as much as possible, but without crushing the pastry, in order to ensure it holds its shape when you remove the foil later. When you have used all your choux pastry balls then try and make the last layer as flat as possible as it will need to be able to stand on a surface.

Place the cone in the fridge for around 1-2 hours to ensure all the chocolate has solidified. Remove from the fridge and carefully turn upright onto a plate. The tricky part is removing the paper cone as carefully as possible to reveal the dessert. With any luck you have created a lovely looking choux pastry cone which holds its shape. The cooler you keep it the more likely it is to hold its shape.

And there you are. Simple! Good luck.

The Croquembouche  - Posted on 3rd January 2016 -