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PIECE MONTEE OR CROQUEMBOUCHE - DARING BAKERS MAY 2010

This month's daring bakers challenge was quite interesting and I really enjoyed making it as well as eating because its our favorite one " Cream Puff ". But the real challenge is arranging them to a "Piece Montee" which means "Mounted piece". This is also called as "Croquemboche" means "crunch in mouth" . It is a high cone of profiteroles (choux filled with pastry cream) sometimes dipped in chocolate bound with caramel, and usually decorated with threads of caramel, sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons. It is a traditional wedding cake in France and also served in baptisms, and first communions.

I filled my puff (half batch) with my favorite
Vanilla Crème Patisserie and other (half batch) with my husband's favorite coffee pastry cream. Offcourse my son loves both. Since I had so much strawberries I thought of arranging the croquemboche with berries which will be apt for spring too. Caramel acted as glue for my Piece Montee. Hope you all will enjoy my Piece Montee. Thanks cat for this wonderful challenge.



Blog-checking lines:
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.


Preparation time:
You will want to use your puff pastry batter and chocolate glaze or caramel as soon as it has been prepared and as close to serving time as possible. This is not a dessert that stores well and it may be a bit temperamental in humid areas as the glaze needs to harden to hold the choux together. The crème patisserie can be made a couple of days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use.
You will need approximately 10 minutes to prepare the puff pastry, 10 minutes to pipe and about 30 minutes to bake each batch. The crème patisserie should take about 10 minutes to cook and then will need to be cooled for at least 6 hours or overnight. The glazes take about 10 minutes to prepare.


Equipment required:

• several baking sheets
• parchment paper
• a whisk
• a pastry brush (for the egg wash)
• a pastry bag and tip (a plain tip or no tip is best for piping the puff pastry; you can use a plain or star tip to fill the puff pastry with the cream)
• a flat surface such as a baking sheet or cake board/stand on which to assemble your piece montée
• some of the items you may want to use to decorate your piece montée include ribbons, Jordan almonds, fresh flowers, sugar cookie cut-outs, chocolates, etc.


Ingredients:
For the Vanilla Crème Patisserie (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
For Chocolate Pastry Cream (Half Batch Recipe):
Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.
For Coffee Pastry Cream (Half Batch recipe):
Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 ½ teaspoons boiling water. Whisk into pastry cream with butter and vanilla.


Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.
Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.
As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.
It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.
Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
Baking:
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.
Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
Filling:
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.
Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.


Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)
Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.
Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Combine sugar 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 and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.
Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.
Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).
When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:13 AM)  

Pavithra, I do not have any words for this. It is simply mind-blowing, what a recipe and what a presentation. Simply amazing, wonderful and many such adjectives are nothing. Simply beautiful !!!

Sharmilee! :)  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:24 AM)  

Awesome they look..... so pretty too!!

RAKS KITCHEN  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:30 AM)  

Thats really a lot of work! Hats off to you Pavi,looks so great! Nice post!

Marty  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:32 AM)  

oops, sorry, I pressed on the wrong comment button. Your phyllo confection was lovely, but I wanted to say that I love your Daring Bakers challenge croquemboche! Greetings from Malaysia

PranisKitchen  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:37 AM)  

wow what a grt job yarr..really fantastic.. i don't know what to say about this delicious piece montee.realy liked the way u presenting the puff and the very detailed recipe.good one

Uma  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:38 AM)  

looks wonderful. Great looking dish.

Little Miss Cupcake  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:40 AM)  

This is so beautifully done! I just love how you mounted your puffs. Bravo!

Ellie (Almost Bourdain)  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:41 AM)  

Beautiful! Love the straberries :) very nicely done.

Sushma Mallya  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:45 AM)  

wow you have done it really beautifully pavithra...well arranged;.looks awesome..worth your efforts..

Karen @ Citrus and Candy  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:49 AM)  

I've been admiring this ever since you posted it on the DB forum. Def one of the prettiest ones I seen and yum yum to strawberries!

Mon  – (May 27, 2010 at 1:07 AM)  

My first words were wow. That's impressive and very beautiful!

jayasree  – (May 27, 2010 at 1:13 AM)  

What a fantastic job... Grgeous presentation. Superb. Keep up the good work.

Priya  – (May 27, 2010 at 1:26 AM)  

Fabulous work, u done a great job Pavi..ur piece montee looks truly tremendous and simply awesome..

♥LOVE2COOK♥  – (May 27, 2010 at 1:38 AM)  

OMG, I'm speechless dear! Excellent presentation dear! All the best to U! ;)

chef_d  – (May 27, 2010 at 1:42 AM)  

Gorgeous! Love the strawberries too!

Pavithra Srihari  – (May 27, 2010 at 2:31 AM)  

Pavi, I so much adore you for your patience da.. only the name is common I wish I have had atleast one percent of your patience .. kudos da..

Just brilliant ... Hats off da..

Marcellina  – (May 27, 2010 at 3:07 AM)  

Your croquembouche is absolutely gorgeous! I also love your blog. I put in a link to you croquembouche in my post because I loved it so much. I hope you don't mind.

ap269  – (May 27, 2010 at 3:28 AM)  

This croquembouche is so gorgeous and elegant! I love the addition of strawberries which is one of my favorite fruit! Great job on the challenge!!!! Kudos to you!

jeyashrisuresh  – (May 27, 2010 at 3:29 AM)  

first of all hats off to ur patience.Amazing clicks.It looks so excellent

Valarmathi  – (May 27, 2010 at 3:50 AM)  

Wow....Pavithra this looks awesome and gorgeous. Fabulous work. Nice click too.

BeenaShylesh  – (May 27, 2010 at 4:11 AM)  

wow what a beautiful presentation....i cant stop my eyes...

M D  – (May 27, 2010 at 4:15 AM)  

Yummy dessert! One bite please!!! Just love the way it's presented. fabulous job! Bon appétit!

Happy Cook  – (May 27, 2010 at 4:40 AM)  

I saw the pic in the forumn and thought it was really beautiful.

Charlotte  – (May 27, 2010 at 5:27 AM)  

Your croquembouche is absolutely gorgeous! I love how you added color (strawberries) to the croquembouche without making it look clowny.. good job!

julie  – (May 27, 2010 at 6:29 AM)  

Great work! Your croquembouche is simply stunning.

Life is beautiful!!!  – (May 27, 2010 at 6:33 AM)  

Even though the name could never get into my mind the pics entered my mind so quickly. A beautiful presentation :)

Poires au Chocolat  – (May 27, 2010 at 7:01 AM)  

It's absolutely gorgeous! I love the strawberries.

simply.food  – (May 27, 2010 at 7:08 AM)  

Spectacular masterpiece.This looks just superb.

Home Cooked Oriya Food  – (May 27, 2010 at 7:12 AM)  

just too good... so well presented...
you have to be daring to even try it...

shelley c.  – (May 27, 2010 at 7:42 AM)  

How beautiful. And how diplomatic of your son to enjoy both flavors. :) Seriously, though, the patience it must have taken to construct your finished piece is impressive - it looks so stunning and delicious all at the same time. Wonderful job.

Kairali sisters  – (May 27, 2010 at 9:18 AM)  

Pavithra..no words to say dear..looks absolutely gorgeous..Amazing..

Love
Kairali sisters

justforlicks  – (May 27, 2010 at 9:23 AM)  

Your croquembouche is simply beautiful! Every time I look at it I'm blown away. What a great job!!

Gala  – (May 27, 2010 at 9:26 AM)  

What a pretty croquembouche!

Geetha Achal  – (May 27, 2010 at 9:26 AM)  

மிகவும் அருமையாக இருக்கின்றது...மிகவும் அழகாக இருக்கின்றது......செய்ய தான் ஆசை ஆனால் நிறைய நேரம் எடுக்கும்...

Rosa's Yummy Yums  – (May 27, 2010 at 10:01 AM)  

Your croquembouche is splendid! You did a great job!

Cheers,

Rosa

Aps  – (May 27, 2010 at 10:24 AM)  

Pavi send me some soooooooooooon good, wonderful nd so goes on...!!!

Debo  – (May 27, 2010 at 11:15 AM)  

Wow! You did a beautifil job. It looks wonderful. Congratulations :D

Sayantani  – (May 27, 2010 at 11:25 AM)  

Pavithra am speechless. its so neat and gorgeous. dont feel like having a piece and eat it. awesome work.

Ruth H.  – (May 27, 2010 at 11:34 AM)  

This is one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever seen. I am not sure I would have felt right being the first to take a puff, or strawberry, from the finished croquembouche, it is such a work of art! Thank you so much for sharing your work and your artistry with us!!.

Swathi  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:15 PM)  

Pavithra,

Croquembouche looks really beautiful and delcious with coffee and vanilla cream.

Nithya  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:17 PM)  

WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW I am so dumb struck anni.. you rock.. the arrangement looks simply superb. :) I badly wish I could taste it :)

San  – (May 27, 2010 at 12:35 PM)  

This croquembouche is so phenomenal pavi,wish i was there to finish everything :) Splendid presentation that exposes your artistic talents as well as patience.Kudos to u dear.That's why adhavan likes both the flavors since they would been very delicious.

Nithu Bala  – (May 27, 2010 at 2:24 PM)  

Wow..Pavi that looks awesome..

Panchpakwan  – (May 27, 2010 at 3:02 PM)  

Wow what an amzing recipe and presetation dear.

Nice to know abt you more in guest post at Deepa's blog. Congarts on so many awards and keep on rocking.

Subhie Arun  – (May 27, 2010 at 5:06 PM)  

wow..thats really wonderful yar...nice presentations..hats yo u yar!keep rockin

Subhie Arun  – (May 27, 2010 at 5:06 PM)  

wow..thats really wonderful yar...nice presentations..hats yo u yar!keep rockin

Namratha  – (May 27, 2010 at 7:43 PM)  

Gorgeous piece, very nicely done!!

Mriganayani  – (May 27, 2010 at 7:53 PM)  

I think I officially love you now.

Deeba PAB  – (May 27, 2010 at 8:25 PM)  

That's a gorgeous creation...wow!! Well done on the challenge Pavithra!

Dipika  – (May 27, 2010 at 9:08 PM)  

Wow.. beautiful presentation...looks like u have given lot of effort n time...the interest u have shown is Worth it!!!
Gr8 gng Pavithra...

Glad to follow u..
http://cookingwithdipika.blogspot.com/

Ushnish Ghosh  – (May 27, 2010 at 10:29 PM)  

Dear Pavithra
Hats off to you, thats what all I can say ...I am always at the receiving end I lean eating end for these things..because I will never be able to make them
Have a nice weekend

tobiascooks!  – (May 28, 2010 at 1:46 AM)  

What a nice Croquemboche, great presentation!

An Open Book  – (May 28, 2010 at 5:22 AM)  

i am in awe of how everyones got so much patience to do that tower...and kudos to you..they look just gorgeous...im sure they tasted even better...

shanthi  – (May 28, 2010 at 6:02 AM)  

Beautiful and well presented/Wonderful clicks

Vrinda  – (May 28, 2010 at 8:02 AM)  

Looks amazing Pavitra..well done

Chef Jeena  – (May 28, 2010 at 8:34 AM)  

I love your new look. :)

These pictures are beautiful Pavithra you should be very proud of yourself. I love how you can make sweet food look amazing yet make healthy vegetables look just as amazing too, you really are talented.

Angie's Recipes  – (May 28, 2010 at 8:54 AM)  

That looks fantastic! You have done a really great job!
Respect.

Ria Mathew  – (May 28, 2010 at 8:56 AM)  

Now that is a very very very beautiful take on the challenge! WAY to go gurl!

Yasmeen  – (May 28, 2010 at 9:02 AM)  

So neat and elegant ,love the berries :D

Fresh Local and Best  – (May 28, 2010 at 9:15 AM)  

This is such a stunning tower of cream puffs! I like the integration of plump ripe strawberries, and how you glazed a couple of the cream puffs. What an accomplishment! Terrific job!

Asha  – (May 28, 2010 at 10:01 AM)  

Very pretty! I love the way you dipped the pastry in sprinklers. Strawberries looks so goo too, great job.

Chaitra  – (May 28, 2010 at 10:03 AM)  

Lovely n mouth watering clicks.never came across something like this but after going thru this recipe i wud like to taste it....
Do drop in sometime

Pam  – (May 28, 2010 at 10:05 AM)  

Nicely done - it looks beautiful and tasty.

Taylor  – (May 28, 2010 at 11:14 AM)  

Your pictures are absolutely stunning!

PJ  – (May 28, 2010 at 11:51 AM)  

I am stunned!!!!You have captured it soooo well..Amazing!!!

Balakrishna Saraswathy  – (May 28, 2010 at 11:57 AM)  

I'm speechless Pavi..looks so beautiful and eye catching presentation:)

simply.food  – (May 28, 2010 at 12:42 PM)  

Beautifuly created. Simply amazing.

Rachana Kothari  – (May 28, 2010 at 1:44 PM)  

You have done a splendid job, Pavi:-) Hats off!

Baking Addict  – (May 28, 2010 at 3:44 PM)  

wow one of the best DB challenges I've seen so far. Vanilla and coffee and strawberries - yum!

Gulmohar  – (May 28, 2010 at 11:01 PM)  

Fantabulous !!!! very very pretty :-) guess you enjoyed the challenge..

Thanks for your wishes..will catch up once I come back..enjoy the summer and take care :-) byee

Aparna  – (May 29, 2010 at 4:23 AM)  

YOur croquembouche is indeed very pretty. The strawberries make it look too good to eat. :)

Simply Life  – (May 29, 2010 at 5:45 AM)  

wow! that looks amazing and so impressive! Almost too pretty to eat...almost. :)

Renata  – (May 29, 2010 at 8:00 AM)  

AWESOME!!!!!! I have no words to describe how beautiful your Pièce montée is. Bravo!!!!

Ann  – (May 29, 2010 at 8:36 AM)  

Wow! I love your croquembouche, it looks perfect. the strawberries and green leaves are a delightful touch! Did you have some structure inside holding it all together?

Barbara Bakes  – (May 29, 2010 at 9:37 AM)  

Such an impressive croquembouche! Love the way you've decorated it.

Parita  – (May 30, 2010 at 6:00 AM)  

Awesome girl! You did a fantastic job!

rekhas kitchen  – (May 30, 2010 at 7:29 AM)  

Realy Hats off to you Pavithra so beautifuly presented great work dear

Mano Saminathan  – (May 30, 2010 at 10:52 AM)  

Beautiful photographs!
Really a great and tempting recipe!

PJ  – (May 30, 2010 at 6:09 PM)  

oh wow, looks so yummy and tempting! i am drooling right over my pc seeing your awesome pics.

sangi  – (May 30, 2010 at 10:43 PM)  

wow!i'm speechless!gr8888888888 job Pavithra

Aruna Manikandan  – (May 31, 2010 at 4:42 AM)  

Wow!!!!
Looks awesome dear....
Nice clicks :-)

SpicyTasty  – (May 31, 2010 at 11:14 AM)  

wow!! That's such a lovely presentation.

Spice  – (June 1, 2010 at 9:01 AM)  

So cute, food can be cute right....just saw same one at yasmeen & now here, must say u guys have a lot of patience....and of course talent....

Divya Kudua  – (June 1, 2010 at 10:10 AM)  

You are a truly Daring Baker..such wonderful presentation!!

偉誠  – (June 1, 2010 at 11:35 AM)  

好文章就值得回響,如果可以常常看到您的更新,應該是件很幸福的事情~~ ........................................

GayathriRaj  – (June 1, 2010 at 1:52 PM)  

Hey wow what a great presnetation...loved it a lot....nmind blowing really....hats off for ur patience and the way you presented...

Sukanya Ramkumar  – (June 1, 2010 at 9:21 PM)  

Wow.... Wat a gorgeous work..... Looks so good.

Shiba Chaudhary  – (June 3, 2010 at 4:42 PM)  

Hey Pavitra,

Lot of hard work done by you.
Excellent presentation & Unique Dish.
well done!!!

shaz  – (June 8, 2010 at 7:01 AM)  

Stunning presentation! Wonderful piece montee, well done.

Sara El Arbid –   – (September 13, 2011 at 10:15 PM)  

you are amazing... I love all of your recipes!

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