Can you believe it’s the end of May already? This year has been crazy busy so far, and due to a lack of time and a lack of inspiration for the last few challenges, I’ve missed a few months of Daring Bakers. But when I saw May’s challenge, I knew I had to clear my schedule for a day and give it a try. You see, ever since last year’s Masterchef Pressure Test, when the contestants made towers of choux puffs with swirling strands of spun sugar to Adriano Zumbo’s recipe, I’ve wanted to make a Croquembouche. And today, I did.
Today is also my Dad’s birthday, and one of his favourite desserts ever is the pecan pie I made from the Tartine Bakery cookbook last year. I was quite surprised he liked it so much, because usually he prefers a bag of salty chips than a sweet dessert. So I wanted to incorporate the flavours of a pecan pie into the croquembouche, namely caramel, bourbon, vanilla and of course pecans.
I used the required challenge recipe for the choux pastry, which is similar to my usual favourite recipe and I had no problem making the gorgeous hollow puffs. I adapted Adriano Zumbo’s crème patissiere recipe from the Masterchef cookbook, to be a vanilla and bourbon pastry cream. I’m not sure why it turned out a little runnier than my usual recipe, which made filling the profiteroles a little bit difficult. For the caramel pecan flavour, I made the Pecan Bourbon pralines from the Tartine cookbook to add a beautiful nuttiness. I had a little trouble with this recipe as it didn’t set properly the first time around but the second attempt was more successful.
Assembling the croquembouche was a little bit crazy. Trying to avoid burning myself with the hot caramel, and keeping it neat, presentable and somewhat resembling a tower was really hard. My first attempt at spun sugar was a little bit fail, and it’s not as pretty as I would have hoped. I mean, it certainly wouldn’t have won any Masterchef competitions! But it was delicious nonetheless and I really liked the flavour combinations and the texture from the caramel and the pecans. I just wish I’d had some candied kumquats to add a bit of tang and colour like in the original pecan pie recipe! I’m not going to include the recipes here, so check out some of the other fabulous Daring Bakers blogs if you’d like to give it a try!
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.