Croquembouche is a word that conjures fear in the hearts of many. I've never understood why. Choux pastry is the easiest pastry to make, and toffee is not exactly the most challenging thing to make. Spun sugar can take some getting used to, but it's definitely achievable.
It seems to have stemmed from that MasterChef episode in Series 1 where Adriano Zumbo brought one for the pressure test. Everyone freaked out and it's since been viewed as the penultimate challenge. Many challenges since have been much more difficult, but still everyone dreads the mighty croquembouche.
It's really quite simple. If you've never tried one before, here's a mini version to help you ease your way into it.
Step-by-step after the jump…
Here's for some more Father's Day bakerage. I spent dinner on Father's Day with my dad, but for lunch we spent it over at my boyfriend's place with his dad and immediate family.
Occasions with his family are often a food-centred affair, but particularly so if it's a celebration. If we go out for the meal, there's usually more food and hot drinks waiting to be consumed at home. If it's all home cooked food, you can be sure that there's going to be more food than you could dream of finishing, and then some. All of it is as delicious as it is plentiful and you will find yourself lamenting the appetite required to try it all. Or at least I do. The boys usually find a way to squeeze most, if not all, of it in. Us girls can seldom match their appetite, but we all still insist on making an enormous amount of food.
When we're dining at his place, I seldom bring things along mainly because there's so much already. I'm often caught somewhere in between feeling like I should contribute, and being too self-conscious about doing so. For this occasion, I decided to bring something. Knowing there would be an abundance of food already, I settled for something small.
After a delicious lunch, there definitely was an abundance of dessert. His sister-in-law brought a delicious ginger cake she'd baked, and his mum provided a hummingbird cake as well as platters of different biscuits, nuts, chocolates and other sweets. In between these two courses, we all had this vanilla cheesecake slice:
Care for a slice?
This month's Daring Bakers Challenge filled me with excitement the second it was posted. Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pâté à choux shapes, filled with crème pâtissiére or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!
For me, there was no choice other than swans. I have been wanting to make these for a while but never found the excuse. What a perfect excuse this was.
“But calm, white calm, was born into a swan…”
FThis week sees me get over the half way mark with this potion of the cook book challenge: next up to the plate is Matt Moran's "When I Get Home". Matt Moran is of course the head chef of ARIA, located at the very doorstep of the Sydney Opera House. He became a household name with his continued involvement in MasterCher Australia, and is loved for absolutely scaring the figurative pants of contestants. He's a great chef, his dishes are always drool-worthy, and his book is no exception.
For the second week in a row, I got to tackle a dish I've been promising to make my boyfriend for over half a decade (wow, way to make us sound old). There were two desserts that fit the bill, actually, the other being bombe alaska, but I had to skip that at the first line: "This recipe requires an ice cream machine". Neeext.
Bread and Butter Pudding
I've been wanting to try a joconde imprime for years. I'd always been a bit intimidated by it, so I filed it under O for "one day" and never gave it any serious thought. But when this months theme challenge on was "layers", I knew it was high time I gave this a go. I'd been looking for an excuse to do another honeycomb topper anyway and had been searching for the perfect dessert to do it with.
I knew I wanted the joconde to be patterned with chocolate stripes, but it was the entremet I couldn't decide on. There were just so many options. I'd tried a dessert with chocolate mousse and layers of honeycomb before, but the honeycomb dissolved and the beautiful layers I'd imagine became one disjoined, albeit delicious, mess. I was chatting to my boyfriend about this first world dilemma when he said, "What about bumble bee mousse?"
I felt like I was in my very own Old El Paso commercial.
He’s not just a pretty face…
After making the mini pavlova, I had 6 egg yolks to cull. So I made a carbonara for dinner and turned to custard for dessert.
A couple weeks ago when shopping for something else, I found this cute little platter set on sale for $15. I was dying to use it for something, so it seemed the perfect excuse.
I love me some crème brûlée, and my boyfriend is a custard-loving fiend, so I decided to have some fun with our various favourites.
Three times the deliciousness…
One of my biggest kitchen dilemmas is working out to do with the leftover halves of the eggs when a recipe requires only one part of it. Egg whites aren't as bad as you can freeze them, but egg yolks only last a few days and don't survive the freezer so well.
After making the Pavlova Roulade, I had 6 of them to use up. The easiest way to use a large amount up, other than giving them to my puppy, is to make something custardy. I also had plenty of cream leftover from party baking so I decided a crème brûlée was in order. I'd made a chocolate one before, but I've never even so much as seen a white chocolate crème brûlée before.
Time to experiment.
Crack the toffee open…