French Pastry Week kind of didn't go out with a bang, did it? Sorry about that. I swear, there's nothing more enjoyable than making good food and taking pictures of it (does that make me weird?), but when you're baking that much in real time, throw in a couple of kitchen disasters and pinch of real life, and by the time Saturday night came and I was supposed to be posting this delightful tower of perfection, my brain was gone. So I did what any other sensible person would do and curled up in a hotel bed with my main squeeze and tried to veg.
Maybe making mini French wedding cakes had something to do with it? Because that's what this is-- the French (and sometimes Italian) version of a wedding cake. And it's so much better than your standard dry, American cake with thick frosting that gets washed down with punch or champagne somewhere between the Macarena and the Cha-cha. I'm pretty sure that if this showed up at most receptions in the U.S. of A., it would be giving all the other traditional party elements an epic mic drop, since no one would want to dance or throw bouquets when there was something like this to be eaten. And face smashing could go to new highs (or lows?) with pastry cream in the equation.
Croquembouche, or croque en bouche, literally means "crunch in mouth." A tower of individual cream puffs held together and then decorated with spun sugar, and maybe ganache, edible flowers, or fondant decorations. Boiling sugar until it strings and hardens is one of the best things food science has to offer, and it's right up there with burning sugar for an oxymoron in flavor. Because while the slightest hint of darkness on toast makes me turn up my nose, the crispy sugar thing could become a life staple.
I made my first croquembouche with a friend, since this was something that we've both been wanting to create for bucket list reasons. And then we sat down and promptly ate it and had our lives changed. She declared it her new birthday dessert. I don't really think birthdays come often enough, so we're talking more of a quarterly dessert maybe? I think yes.
For the recipe, I used Bon Appetit's online version, so I'll just link you there instead of copying and pasting (which is RUDE). I probably read it about five times before we got to work, and referred back many, many more times during the process. A lot of work? Yes. Patience is required? For sure. But worth it?
Don't ask silly questions.