Saturday, 24 September 2011

Limoncello and White Choclate Croquembouche

Until I watched The Great British Bake Off on tuesday I will be honest and say I hadn't heard of a croquembouche before...profiteroles sure, but done like this? Never. And instantly I just knew I HAD to make one.

Luckily my lovely mother had bought me the latest GBBO book 'How To Bake'. Last season's book, which I baked my Somerset Apple Cider Cake from was brilliant, like a bible. This one is more Mary Berry inspired and very girl which is great. It's gives great step by step guides and shows you in pictures how to do things and what it's supposed to look like which is a godsend. Full of pastel colours and gorgeous photography,  I was so happy to see they featured one of the croquembouches from the show inside, so this was the one I decided I had to make, with limoncello and white chocolate. I could post the whole recipe from start to finish but then it would turn into an essay and I don't want to bore you - so I'll post the limcello and white chocolate bit, as while the choux pastry recipe was good, I think it's just as good any recipe I've used before so I'm sure you can find another in one of your cookbooks or online.

I hadn't made profiteroles before, only eclairs, which are similar but I still had only done those a couple of times but I love choux pastry so I was determined to do it right. It's not as lengthy as you imagine in itself but all in all it did take a few hours from start to finish as you have to let bits cool and stand for a while so it all added up, trust me though it is worth it. I know it's a bit of an extravagant recipe to just decide to do for fun, but I did downsize it to about a quarter of the size of what they did on the show, so it was ok :)

You do need a croquembouche cone, though I didn't have one and I've heard they're quite expensive, so I made mine with a left over cake box lid and some foil. I wrapped the foil over the card and twisted it into a wide cone shape and taped it all up together and leveled it so it stood straight. Voila, and costs next to nothing. I did it with foil rather than baking paper as I was worried the baknig paper would tear on the caramel which would be gutting in the end stage!

The hard part for me was the caramel, I hadn't made it like this before so I didn't really know what to expect and stupidly thought it would be easy as there were only two ingredients...wrong! It took me three attempts, nearly a kilo of sugar, and after number two I had run out of saucepans after filling up the dishwasher and my patient grew thin when realising how fickle sugar is! But I managed to rustle up another saucepan, a bigger one this time and I think that was part of the trick. I burned it the last two times and kept on cooking it. This time when I got to the right temperature and it hadn't quite lots all of the massive sugar clumps that had formed, I turned it down and kept the correct temperature whilst actually stirring it (even though they told you to NEVER do that on the show) and third time lucky it turned out beautifully. So do be patient with it and give it a bit more time than you may expect. The only thing I think I would change would be to add some more double cream to the filling as it was a little loose and kinda spilled out everywhere when you tore a bit off to eat so it could have down with being a bit thicker.

Right enough waffling here's the recipe:

Limoncello and White Chocolate Croquembouche

Ingredients:
  • 2 recipe quantities of profiteroles
    (about 96)
  • 300g caster sugar for the caramel
  • caster sugar for the spun sugar

Filling:
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 25g plain flour
  • finely grated zest of one lemon
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon limoncello
  • Sugar flowers to decorate (optional - I didn't use them)
You will also need a piping bag with a 0.5cm plain tube, cake board (I just used a plate) a sugar thermometer,  croquembouche con.

Method:

  1. To make the filling, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar, flour, lemon zest and one-third of the milk until smooth. Heat the rest of the milk in a medium pan until almost boiling, then pour onto the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Return to the pan and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens. Simmer for one minute, whisking, cooking out the flour taste and cool until lukewarm.
  2. Meanwhile, gently melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of steaming hot water but not boiling water (don't let the baste of the bowl touch the water). Cool until lukewarm, then whisk the chocolate into the custard, followed by the limoncello. Cover and chill for at least an hour before folding in the whipped cream.
  3. When ready to assemble the croquembouche, spoon the filling into the piping bag. Pipe into the cool profiteroles through the steam hole, taking care not to overfill (to avoid leaking).
  4. To make the caramel, dissolve the sugar in 4 tablespoons of water in a medium pan, stirring occasionally (again this is odd as they did say to never actually stir it, so I mainly just swirled it around).  Once the has sugar has dissolved bring to the boil and boil rapidly to a light caramel (160 degrees celcius / 320 Fahrenheit) Immediately plunge the base of the pan into cold water for 20 seconds to halt the cooking.
  5. Place your cake board on the worktop. Working quickly, dip one side of each profiterole in the hot caramel (be careful not to burn yourself it's crazy hot)  and stick them together inside the cone. You can also just freestyle it into a pyramid. If the caramel 'glue' starts to set you can loosen it up again by heating it gently.  Leave the croquembouche in a cool to set. This shouldn't really take to long.
  6. For the spun sugar you can make the caramel again, but I had some left over so I used that, after it's been in the cold water for 20 seconds let it settle for 5 minutes. Hold a couple of forks in one hand, dip the tines in the caramel and lift them out and flick strands of caramel over the assembled croquembouche. Stop as soon as the caramel starts to set and becomes thick. Decorate with sugar flowers if you would like.
  7. Destroy and eat! Nom!
I hope you all made it through the recipe I know it's lengthy -
so you can see why I didn't want to write up the choux pastry recipe too!
  1. Place your cake
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10 comments:

  1. Wow this looks amazing!! I attempted this once but have to say I didn't dare make spun sugar or anything involving caramel as I've not always had a good experience with caramel! I think I'm going to have to invest in the GBBO book.

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  2. YOu pics are amazing...awesome presentation..:)
    Tasty Appetite

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  3. Incredible. The croquembouche is not an easy dessert to tackle and you did a marvelous job. Looks delicious.

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  4. So ambitious and beautiful! I would love to taste this, but I'll leave baking it to non-lazy people!!!

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  5. thanks guys! It was the caramel that was the hardest bit for me, luckily the profiteroles turned out perfect and rose beautifully once I decided to be braver and give them the allotted time - I'm always scared of them being overdone. I think I'll try one again for Christmas, would be a great centerpiece dessert I think :)

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  6. Wow, congratulations this looks fantastic! I don't think I have enough skills or patience to tackle a croquembouche, although I have made profiteroles before. Hope you didn't burn all your fingers on the caramel like the poor lady on Bake Off last week!

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  7. Wow - that's quite a creation!

    Incidentally, since our last exchange re Kransekake, have you seen that Lakeland's new product is a set of kransekake rings! I have ordered one and can't wait to make it

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  8. Well done, it looks magnificent. Croquembouche scares the hell out of me - even though I have the book too - very impressed.

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  9. I did burn my fingers once! but I soon learned!

    Wow it's great they're selling them, we have quite a few good genuine recipes here if the one provided isn't up to scratch. They make pretty good centerpieces for Christmas if you google it :)

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  10. So impressive!

    These flavours really appealed to me on the programme (love Jo too). I'd say it was delicious.

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I love to hear your feedback! Nom! x

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