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.
Please don’t forget to read the “Vote for Me” section at the bottom of this post – I’m in a contest and need your help to win. (Ok, enough begging…on to the Croquembouche!)
There are times when I follow the rules – mainly when I’m at school – and the rest of the time I do it my way.
I’ve successfully made gluten-free cream puffs and eclairs thanks to my Fundamentals of Baking class. At $3 to $5 dollars a pound for my beloved flours, I wasn’t going to mess with what works. I like the recipe I’ve been using but it’s not quite perfect. The baked pastry is bliss – rich with milk, butter, and eggs. It’s crisp right out of the oven but quickly gets a little soft. Still delicious, mind you. There’s nothing wrong with these cream puffs. Just not perfect yet.
Instead of agave, I used palm sugar for my pastry cream. Palm sugar creates an earthier, caramely flavor and a light brown color. I’m still getting my technique down, so I had some lumps in my final product. Pushing it through a fine-mesh sieve solved that problem.
The Challenges of Sugar-Free Caramel
Cat wanted us to use caramel or chocolate, or both. Since Martha Stewart so effortlessly put her croquembouce togehter with caramel, I thought I’d give it a try. I was positive I could make it with chocolate – caramel was a stretch. This is supposed to be a challenge, right?
I used palm sugar to make my caramel with a 1 to 1 substitution. The sugar melted, darkened, and boiled. My hopes were high.
It even tasted like caramel.
In the end, though, it never set up firmly which made assembly tricky. My croquembouche crumbled more than once. But, with some persistence, I was able to pull it off – no toothpicks at all!
If you have any caramel tips – please share! I’d love to perfect this.
The Final Verdict
Even though the caramel didn’t sit up just right, the flavor made me a little weak in the knees. I can’t help but love pate au choux. I think I’m making more for dinner…
Martha Stewart does a much better job of showing you how to assemble a croquembouche than I can, so I’ll send you to her video for assmebly instructions. Fast-forward her video about 1o minutes; the first part is just chatting.
Vote for Me!
I was asked by FoodSpring.com to participate in their “My Most Exciting Food Experience” contest. I’m the only gluten-free blogger – winning would give more exposure to eating gluten-free so please take a few minutes and vote! (Rate my post a 5!)
If you want more details, read my post from Tuesday.
Palm Sugar Pastry Cream
Use the pastry cream from my Fresh Fruit Tart with the following variations:
Use two ounces of palm sugar. Add one ounce of palm sugar to the milk that you bring to a boil. Add the remaining ounce of palm sugar to the egg mixture.
Omit the lemon zest.
Pate au Choux Paste
makes about 24 1 1/2 – 2 inch cream puffs
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup gluten-free flour mix*
2 eggs, maybe 3
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachement.
Put milk, butter, and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a spatula. Once the milk boils, use a wooden spoon to stir in the gluten-free flour mix. Keep stirring until a mass of dough forms and a film of starch forms on the bottom of the pan.
Dump the dough into the mixer bowl and turn on low. Stir for a minute or two to help the dough cool. Meanwhile, beat two eggs together and add the vanilla to the eggs. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add in three additions to the dough making sure the egg fully incorporates before adding more. You want the dough to be smooth, shiny, and it should slide down the beaters when you stop the mixer. Put a little dough between your thumb and first finger – when you pull your fingers apart the dough should stretch and hold it’s shape. If you need more egg, add the third egg in small parts. You don’t want to add too much.
Put your pate au choux paste into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe into a the desired shape – a globe for puffs, a long shape for eclairs, or it you’re feeling fancy a swan. Brush the choux with egg wash. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until puffs have doubled in size and the internal temperature reads at least 205 degrees F with an instant read thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, make sure that the puffs are golden brown and are very light and hollow. If underbaked, they’ll deflate. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Gluten-Free Flour Mix
adapted from Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 cup garfava flour
1 cup tapioca starch
Mix all ingredients well. Store refrigerated in an air-tight container. (I like to use a quart mason jar.)
Soft Caramel Glaze
1 cup palm sugar
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down the edges as needed to prevent crystals from forming. Once the mixture begins to boil, swirl the pan to mix. Don’t stir. Continue boiling, swirling occasionally until the mixture is a deep amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.