Thursday, May 27, 2010

Croquembouche: "pops" & tiny ones

I'm back from Spain! It was awesome, as always. As soon as I got back it was time for Croquembouche.

Here's a caramelized profiterol (croquembouche style) pop!

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.

Pate à Choux
  • 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. 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.

  • Piping: 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).
  • Baking: 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.
  • Filling: 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.

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.

I simply got all my profiteroles filled and caramelized (and drizzled with more caramel) and instead of turning them into a Croquembouche I put them on sticks. I like to put things on sticks. Things look cute on sticks.

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. 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.

Pistachio Crème Patissiere

  • 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
  • 3 Tbsp. pistachio paste
  • a few drops green food coloring (optional)

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.

Besides the pops and just for the fun of it, I did a tiny cronquembouche: an individual serving. I started with those miniature profiteroles...

... filled them with a very small tip. And then it was time to build up. Oh and drizzle with caramel and caramel and more caramel!

Crunch, crunch, crunch.......

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A cookie with a hole

I just finished packing. I should go to bed because tomorrow I leave early, but I’m here instead writing a post. Also in the afternoon instead of doing all sorts of stuff I had to do, I did a little something for you. Why? Well, because you deserve it.

Today I have no recipe, just an idea. And it’s not even my idea, but I just had to share. This is just a cute way to serve Chocolate Chip Cookies, so use your favourite recipe (or check this chart to find a good CCC recipe).

I saw this a while ago in a hotel webpage, just in a picture of one of the rooms. I don’t even remember the hotel, but I do remember the cookie!

So to do it you’ll need cookie dough, shot glasses and round cookie cutters with 2 different sizes. Get your favourite Chocolate chip cookie dough (in my case I used one that I had frozen) and bake your cookies. Use a big scoop to make big cookies (I sprinkled my dough with demerara sugar for extra crunch). Right after you take them out of the oven and they’re still soft press the cutters like in the picture to make a perfect round cookie with a round hole in one side.

Make sure the cutter you use for the hole is slightly wider than your shot glasses, so they fit inside. Fill the shot glass with cold milk, put it in the Chocolate chip cookie hole and serve… or eat it yourself!

I wish I had a few more to eat on my way to Seville tomorrow… Ok, it’s definitely bed time for me now. I’m so gonna have sweet dreams now!