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Croquembouche.
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5 from 1 vote

Croquembouche (VIDEO)

With a name that literally translates to "crunch in your mouth," Croquembouche is a mouthwatering, classic French pastry dessert made with diplomat cream-filled choux pastry puffs. Known for its towering cone shape bound together with crunchy caramel, this festive dessert isn't just eye-catching, but is also super decadent.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 10
Calories: 508kcal
Author: Kata

Ingredients

For the choux buns - makes about 60

  • 120 g Unsalted butter Unsalted butter, 82% fat content
  • 120 g Water
  • 120 g Whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon Granulated sugar
  • 140 g Bread flour High protein content flour, eg. 13%
  • 220 g Egg Room temperature. Might need slightly more or less, see tips

For the Diplomat cream filling

  • 500 g Whole milk 3% fat
  • 100 g Granulated sugar
  • 80 g Egg yolk approx. yolk of 4-5 eggs
  • 25 g Corn starch
  • 25 g All purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 50 g Unsalted butter 82% fat, room temperature soft butter
  • 3 Sheets of gelatin x1.7g=5g gelatin overall
  • 200 g Heavy Cream very cold. 36% fat

For the wet caramel

Instructions

Choux buns

  • Place butter, water, milk, salt, and sugar into a saucepan over medium heat
  • As soon as the mixture starts simmering, remove it from the heat, add the sifted flour in one go, and whisk vigorously with a spatula until it forms one smooth ball and flour bits are not visible
  • Place the saucepan back on the stove and cook the dough for about 3 min over medium heat mixing constantly. It is ready when a sort of skin forms on the bottom of the saucepan
  • Transfer the dough into a bowl or the bowl of your Stand mixer and let it cool slightly before mixing the egg in. Only add a small amount of egg at a time, consistently whisking after each addition. You should reach a consistency which is not too runny, not too firm but just fine to pipe
  • Prepare your perforated baking mats, or 2 trays with parchment paper. Pipe 30 equal-sized (3.5cm / 1.5 inches in diameter) buns on each of them. Leave enough space in between them, as they will puff, then place the tray into the freezer for 10 min at least
  • Pre-heat oven to 200 C / 392 F (no fan)
  • Lower oven temperature to 170 C / 338 F (no fan) and bake the choux for 25 min. Do not open the oven door in the first 15-20 min. If you are baking it the first time, it is a good idea to take one choux bun out of the oven at 25 min and check its consistency. If it is golden in colour, nicely puffed up, does not deflate at room temperature and the middle of the ball is not raw (it is ok if it's a bit wet, it will dry while cooling down) then it is considered to be done
  • Cool them either on the perforated air mat or if baked on parchment paper, then cool them on cooling rack before filling them

Diplomat cream

  • Soak gelatin sheets in cold water
  • In a large enough bowl, with the help of a Hand whisk, whisk together sugar and egg yolk until slightly fluffy for about 1-2 minutes
  • Whisk in corn starch, flour, and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated and have a smooth paste
  • Bring milk to simmering in a saucepan on medium heat then remove it as soon as it starts simmering. Pour the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture slowly while whisking vigorously with a Hand whisk. This stage is effectively tempering the egg yolks and the mixture should already start to slightly thicken
  • Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until it thickens. Concretely it is approximately 1 min after the first boil. It might get lumpy first, don't worry just keep whisking and the cream will get smooth and glossy
  • Squeeze excess water from the gelatin sheets and stir them into the mixture one by one. If in doubt, strain the pastry cream for a lump free, creamy end result
  • Add in room temperature soft butter and mix with a Rubber spatula until completely incorporated. It is worth adding the butter in 3 stages and mixing well after each addition.
  • Pastry cream needs to completely cool before folding the heavy cream in. Place the cream into a shallow bowl or cake pan and cover the entire surface with plastic wrap to avoid skin forming on top. Let it come to room temperature
  • Once cooled, whisk the pastry cream for 1-2 minutes to get a smooth texture. Make sure you do not over whisk it as it can get runny. Give it a few whisk only until smooth
  • Whip very cold heavy cream until soft peak. Do not overwhip it to a point that it would form lumps.
  • Carefully, with the help of a rubber spatula, fold heavy cream into the pastry cream. It is worth adding the whipped heavy cream in 3 stages and folding after each addition.
  • The Diplomat Cream can be used immediately to fill the choux buns. If the cream is more on the soft side, refrigerate it for 1-2 hours before using it.
  • Making a small hole on the bottom of the choux buns, fill each of them with the diplomat cream, and set them aside while making the dry carame

Wet Caramel

  • First and foremost, be careful throughout the process not to burn yourself
  • Melt the sugar and glucose syrup along with the water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat
  • Once the sugar starts to turn golden brown, adjust the stove to medium heat. When caramel achieved the right temperature (160-180C / 320-356F) or color (golden brown), immediately turn the stove off and start the assembling process

Assembling

  • Decide on a serving plate and assemble the dessert on it as you won´t be able to move it later
  • Dip each choux bun into the hot(=soft) caramel and set them aside until set. While dipping, be careful not to burn yourself, I suggest using a knife to dip or heatproof gloves
  • After a few minutes when caramel will start to cool(=thicken), turn on the stove again on very low heat to keep the caramel warm(=soft)
  • Once the caramel has set on each choux bun, start building up the tower. Depending on how many choux buns you have, you will have to calculate the optimal no of layers you can make
  • I used the following no of choux buns from bottom to top: 12-11-10-9-7-3-1
  • Using the soft caramel, first glue together the first level of the tower from bottom to top. The caramel side should be facing out on the buns. Make sure that each layer is properly set before moving onto the next
  • For the second layer, each choux bun should be glued to the first layer as well to each other with the help of the caramel sauce. Remember, if the caramel sauce starts to thicken, very gently heat it up on the stove on low heat
  • Continue with each layer from bottom to top, paying attention to overall simmertry of the tower. Also, make sure that you have enough choux buns left to finish the tower.
  • Once the tower is up, dip the fork into the caramel and quickly swirl around the croquembouche. Use as much caramel as you fancy at this point, the caramel web is more of a decoration element, than structural
  • Serve the dessert shortly. If you want to make ahead, prepare the choux buns the night before, but only assemble the tower shorly before serving.
  • Store in the fridge, however, please note that the caramel will soften over time in the fridge due to its moist environment. The caramel="glue" will melt in between the choux buns and the tower will very likely collapse, therefore serve the dessert a few hours after assembling.

Video

Notes

INGREDIENT NOTES:
  1. Measure your ingredients with a Digital scale for accuracy
  2. Use high protein content bread flour for the best results, I am using 12% protein content flour
  3. Do not skip the salt, it has a special function while baking choux pastry
  4. Use lightly whisked room temperature eggs while preparing the dough
  5. For the craquelin, use cane sugar
TECHNIQUE NOTES:
  1. Make sure you read my Expert tips section above to maximize your success. A short recipe alone is not able to cover all the necessary details, and science behind baking.
  2. While whipping up the choux dough, you might need slightly more or less egg - and that is normal - depending on the flour you use and how much you dried the mixture while cooking it. Pay very close attention to the consistency while mixing the egg in and apply the V shape test. 
  3. Do not try to save time by skipping the freezing part before baking, it is an extremely important technical step for making choux pastry
  4. I strongly advise using a Digital oven thermometer to be able to measure your exact oven temperature
  5. While baking, do not use a fan in your oven, it can encourage cracks on your choux
  6. When making the diplomat cream, first ensure that you have a firm enough room temperature pastry cream
  7. For the diplomat cream only use very cold and high fat (36%) heavy cream
  8. When making the caramel, pay attention to its color and smell and do not burn it. Use an instant thermometer to read the exact temperature
  9. While assembling the choux tower, you will want to work quickly. You can only work with warm (runny) caramel, once it starts to cool, it will start to thicken. Use the stove to heat it back up gently on low heat
  10. Pay attention to the no of choux balls you have and work your way upwards and inwards while assembling the tower. You want to be careful with leaving enough choux buns up till the end. It is better to leave some leftover than run out of it

Nutrition

Calories: 508kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 235mg | Sodium: 188mg | Potassium: 173mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 1054IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 1mg