Sunday, June 6, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge for May 2010 – A Piece of Montee / Croquembouche

It's the Daring Bakers Challenge posting period again, and you might start to queried me as this is already the month of June ( and to be exact, 1st week of June is gone) and I'm only posting my completed May challenge now?? Yeah, yeah, I'm so, so late this time, and I have personally write in to apologized and also requested a late posting date from the organizer………….hehehe, and guess what, I'm not the only one lah…that's makes me feels so much better knowing that there are members out there who also lives in the 'real' world where…….sometimes, you just get out of schedule and be late for something, that's just normal……phew!! :P
So, I finally completed my 'Piece of Montee' after so many postponements due this this lah, that lah…..and sometimes, when it comes to baking, I don't know about you, but me…'s all about the mood, and the mood swing includes what you want to bake for the day…..not anything will do, that's the thingy :P Anyway, I'm just glad that I did it and have however fulfill the members criteria…… we are only allowed to miss maximum 4 challenge in a year and I have already skip two.
Ok, getting back to the challenge, May challenge was all about the Montee / Croquembouche where it is the traditional wedding cake in France. They are also often served at occasions like Baptisms or Communions. I was a bit skeptical at first when I saw the notes for the challenge…..I was thinking that what am I going to do with a mountain of Choux Puffs after the challenge??? I don't have a wedding to be gifted to , or a Baptism or even a Communion………and who is going to eat all these up……as I'm not talking about 10 choux puffs…….but at least 28 – 40 pieces of choux to be mounted up high in order to get that height to be qualified as a MONTEE!! OK…….no worries, I'll get to that later I thought, I'll find my eating troupes who are willing to wallop that montee for me…..LOL
The challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake and the recipes are from Peter Kump's Baking School in Manhattan and also designed by famous pastry chef , Nick Malgieri. To tell you the truth, I wouldn't deny that this is s far 'd' best Pate A Choux recipe in my collection. The recipe given has 3 components in it and that is the (1) Pate A Choux (2) Crème Patissiere and also (3) Chocolate Glaze as the mounting agent. I made the Crème Patissiere a day ealier as it requires at least 6 hours or overnight to cool and the flavor I have chosen is Vanilla.


For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere

1 cup (225ml) whole milk
2 Tbsp. Constarch
6 Tbsp. (100gm) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30gm) unsalted butter
1 tsp. Vanilla essence

  1. Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
  2. 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.
  3. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continue whisking.
  4. 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 essence.
  5. Pour cream into a stainless steel / ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
Pate a Choux (Yield about 28, but I got about 46)
¾ cup (175ml) water
6 Tbsp. (85gm) unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup (125gm) all –purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg wash: 1 egg and a pinch of salt (I personally don't like the egg wash, as I feel that it browned too fast, the puff doesn't look nice)

Preparing batter:
  1. 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.
  2. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  3. 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.
  4. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs. 
  1. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip. Pipe choux about 1 inch- apart in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
  2. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of the choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.
  3. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with a pinch of salt).
  4. Bake the choux at 425~F / 220~C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
  5. Lower the temperature to 350~F/ 180~C degrees and continue baking until well-coloured and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in an airtight container overnight.
  1. When you are ready to assemble your piece montee, 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.
  2. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make the glaze.
Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces (200gm) finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I would recommend the semi-sweet)

Melt the chocolate in microwave or double-boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Montee:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get the feel for how to assemble the 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. The take some of the larger choux and assemble them in circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble, dip the top of each choux in the chocolate galze (carefully as it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/ plate/ cheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up.

When you have finished the design of your piece montee, you may drizzle with the remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers and etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy!

Happy Montee Assembling !

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