What's a Croquembouche? - The Bailiwick Academy

What’s a Croquembouche? (and Other Croquembouche Questions, Answered!

Let’s cut to the chase: what’s a croquembouche, indeed? 

Well, it’s a French dessert composed of choux pastry buns (also called profiterole) arranged in a cone and bound with threads of sticky caramel. It’s a very unique dessert that you’d normally see in weddings and other special occasions. In fact, it’s actually known as THE cake for French weddings.

Croquembouche is sure to catch your eye since it’s a delicious-looking tower of cream puffs!

Now that we have answered the question, does that mean we’re done? Nope! We’ll take a closer look at this French dessert and try to answer more questions about it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

How do you pronounce croquembouche?

So this term doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. How do you say the word croquembouche?

According to our friend Google, here’s how you pronounce it:

what's a croquembouche the bailiwick academy

And if you really want to hear it said, here’s a handy video to help you with that:

Forget what’s a croquembouche – what does croquembouche mean?

Croquembouche is actually borrowed from the French term croque en bouche, which means “[something that] crunches in the mouth” or “crack in the mouth.” The term is a reference to caramel coating found on each cream puff in the cone shape.

What’s the history of croquembouche?

The invention of these puff pastries placed in a cone shape with spun sugar or caramel is attributed to a French chef named Marie-Antoine Carême. He was a chef who lived from 1784-1833 and was known as a pioneer of grande cuisine, basically very lavish and decorative displays of food. 

Croquembouche would fit right into his philosophy, wouldn’t you agree?

While it is attributed to him, croquembouche has also been mentioned as early as 1700 in various other French books and culinary encyclopedias. And while we may never know who truly came up with this marvelous concept, we’re just happy that these cream puffs exist!

France French the bailiwick academy croquembouche
We have France to thank for this delicious and beautiful dessert!

Historians also say that when croquembouches first came out, they were cylindrical or came in various pieces of mini structures like towers and included other pastries like macarons and cookies. It eventually evolved to look like its current form.

Is croquembouche different from pièces montée?

Okay, so we’re going to introduce another French word: pièce montée. What does that mean? Well, pièces montée is French for “assembled piece”. It’s a decorative centerpiece used for special occasions and formal banquets and made of ingredients such as spun sugar, confectioner’s paste, nougat, and marzipan.

Now, the ingredients and the description sound familiar, wouldn’t you agree? So are croquembouches different from pièces montées?

Well, yes, because the purpose of pièces montées is simply to be decorative. While the ingredients are edible, they are not meant to be eaten. Croquembouches are the ones that are meant to be enjoyed and consumed by guests.

what's a Croquembouche the bailiwick academy
Croquembouches – made to be eaten, not just admired.

What’s a croquembouche’s difference from croquetta, croquette, croque monsieur, and croque madame?

Okay, so these terms may sound alike, but croquembouche is totally different from these. Croquembouches are sweet pastries slash desserts.

Croquettas or croquettes, while also French in origin, are a type of dumpling. They are deep-fried and filled with meat. And they look like these:

croquette the bailiwick academy

On the other hand, croque monsieur and croque madame (again, while of French origin) are types of sandwiches made with ham and cheese on thick slices of white bread.

To make a croque madame, you simply add an egg on top of the sandwich described above.

croque madam croque monsieur the bailiwick academy
Simply remove the egg on top of this croque madam, and you get a croque monsieur!

So what’s a croquembouche? Definitely not any of these!

What’s a croquembouche like to eat?

It might be a challenge to eat from the tower if you’re not familiar with this dessert. According to Delighted Cooking, here’s how to eat it successfully: pull them apart with napkins in hand, and eat. 

Of course, you could also try the historical version of cracking the dessert open with a heavy knife or sword(!!!), just for the fun of it.

sword the bailiwick academy What's a croquembouche
What’s a croquembouche eating session like without a sword, are we right?

What goes in a croquembouche?

the bailiwick academy croquembouche ingredients

What is inside a croquembouche? Well, any croquembouche recipe will give you the following components: how to make the pastry cream; how to make the puff pastry which will be filled with pastry cream filling; and how to make the spun sugar decoration.

Ingredients of a classic croquembouche typically include the following:

  • Hot milk
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Cornstarch
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Water
  • All-purpose flour
  • Vanilla beans
  • Heavy cream

You can add ingredients like chocolate or other flavors to modify the pastry cream to your liking.

Is croquembouche hard to make?

Is it, indeed, hard to make a croquembouche? Well, it’s definitely not simple! You’re going to have to practice a lot, especially if it’s going to be your first time attempting one.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re attempting to make your croquembouche from step one:

  • Make your puff pastries all the same size. That way, assembly is easier for you. 
  • For more uniformity, either use a mold or don’t. Don’t mix up the methods. 
  • Don’t go for big towers at once, especially if it will be your first time. Try starting small first. That way, you’ll get used to the entire process of assembling.
  • Don’t overfill your puffs, as full puffs will result in soggy puffs. That will make things harder for you when it’s time to assemble your tower.

How far in advance can you make croquembouche?

Can croquembouche be made the day before? Well, yes you can. The best strategy you can take on is to make the puffs and the pastry cream a couple of days prior to when you’re actually going to serve it. You can then assemble the tower on the morning of the day of consumption.

What’s the shelf life of a croquembouche?

How long does a croquembouche last? How long can a croquembouche sit out at room temperature? Those are valid concerns, definitely.

Well, one thing you need to know is that as soon as you serve your tower, your enemies will be moisture and humidity. These two will soften your choux pastry and will also make it harder for your caramel to stay stiff.

That’s the reason you shouldn’t place the cream from the pastry bag into your pastry until you’re actually assembling. And that’s also why for the best results, you should have plenty of time to assemble your tower.

Once you’re done with the assembly, these pastries should be eaten quickly so that they still provide optimal taste. You’ll probably get around 5-8 hours before the moisture starts to soften your caramel, so serve it as soon as possible.

How do you make a croquembouche?

To be honest, there are many recipes out there that can teach you how to make a croquembouche. But why spend time trying out recipes that may or may not work, making you waste time, money, and ingredients in the process?

Here’s what you should do instead. Enroll in our latest class with Chef Miko Aspiras: Croquembouche!

When you enroll, Chef Miko will teach you the following:

what’s a croquembouche the bailiwick academy

That’s right – you will be equipped with all the tools you need to make this delicious artwork. No longer will you have to wonder how much does a croquembouche cost, how many profiteroles in a croquembouche is the right number, or how long does it take to make a croquembouche. With this class, you become your own pastry chef and build your very own croquembouche tower!

And with that in mind, imagine you being able to market this awe-inspiring French dessert as a wedding cake alternative and for other special occasions!

Enroll in The Bailiwick Academy today and make your food business level up and stand out FABULOUSLY!

Last reminders before you start making a croquembouche!

If you’re reading this today, June 6, 2022, Philippine Standard Time, you have a few more hours to get it at a sale price!

That’s right! Until 4:30 PM today, you can get it at 20% off its regular price!

And if you’re reading it past 4:30 PM today, sorry, you’ve missed the sale.

But don’t be sad. Why? Because The Bailiwick Academy‘s MID YEAR SALE is coming soon! It’s going to be from June 15-17, 2022!

Mark your calendars so you don’t miss out!

And more importantly, sign up at The Bailiwick Academy today so all you have to do is enroll in your class of choice when the sale starts.

See you inside one of our classes!

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