What does it take to make a croquembouche?
Photo by Alice Cunliffe Photography
A classic at a French wedding, the croquembouche has been more and more popular in the UK too. As this is the time of year, where many couples celebrate their Christmas engagement and start preparing for the big day, I thought it was more than appropriate to tell you a little bit more about this exquisite showstopper.
On this specific post I shall concentrate on the difficult and rather delicate task of making one, as I had already published another post about this delicious beauty 2 years ago. Here is the link
The croquembouche, unlike any traditional wedding cake is not one that you can actually make in advance of the big day and refrigerate for example.
There is one and simple reason for this, the caramel that is characteristic of a traditional croquembouche, would just melt. Also, the choux or profiteroles that are filled with a pastry cream do start going soft after a while. So this delicious tower of profiteroles, I’m afraid can only be built on the actual day of the wedding.
The ones I make tend to have between 200 and 300 choux.
Timing is key on the big day but especially so for a croquembouche. The choux can be made in advance, so I tend to make them the week of the wedding.
The main work starts on the morning of the big day, it is literally a rush against time, and believe me almost always a very stressful one for me. I have to adjust my timing depending on the time of delivery. For example, if it’s an early afternoon one, I’m up at 5 am sometimes even earlier, to start preparing as it will take me between 5 to 7 hours to get it fully built.
I usually start by making the nougatine, it’s a caramel mixed with flaked almonds, that I then shape into triangles to adorn the tower of profiteroles.
Then I fill the choux with pastry cream and only then do I start building, dipping the choux one by one into the caramel until the tower is finally done.
I then either adorn it with sugared almonds or flowers, and sometimes both.
Depending on the number of profiteroles it can take me up to 16 hours to make one, that is from making the choux to full completion.
As you can see, making a croquembouche is a true labour of love and patience. And that is one of the main reasons of its high cost. But Oh! It is worth it, even I’m rather biased on this.
I hope you have found this post useful, if you are interested in having one, you can email me [email protected]