Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Piece Montee

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.

I've been a very bad Daring Baker. I joined 3 months ago and I've only completed ONE challenge. I will do my best to do better. Really.
I have to say, I love Choux Cream Puffs.  I could eat a dozen of them on my own in one sitting.  I've always wanted to learn how to make them so when I saw this challenge, I was thrilled. Unfortunately, after the SECOND failed batch, the thrill almost turned into despair.  It turns out that I just didn't cook it long enough.  

I wish I could say I took a step by step photo of the whole experience but as I was on the verge of tears for the first 2 batches of pate a choux so I was unable to see clearly enough to snap off a clear photo.  

The lovely flavoring of the lilikoi bavarois recipe is courtesy of Executive Pastry Chef Ricky De Boer of the Fairmont Kea Lani.  He has been so utterly gracious since my quick visit to the resort! [If you find yourself in Maui, please be sure to visit the Kea Lani if for no other reason than to enjoy the delectable Lilikoi Creme Brulee!] Unfortunately, as I was typing off an email telling him how wonderful his lilikoi cream was, it curdled. So my 2nd batch had less eggs than I had intended since I was too lazy to run out and buy more!

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan, originally created by famed pastry chef, Nick Malgieri
¾ cup water
6 Tbsp (85 grams) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F. Line 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. 
When it reaches boiling point, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring until it combines.  Once the mixture is well combined, cook until it pulls away from the sides of the pan,  while stirring constantly [mine pulled away from the sides right away, so i'm not sure what I did wrong - i just cooked it until it had the consistency of mashed potatoes when I smashed the dough with my wooden spoon].

Remove from heat and add 1 of the eggs, stirring until it once again looks like mashed potatoes.  Repeat until all eggs are used.  The consistency of the batter should be thick.

You can either pipe the batter on to the cookie sheet or scoop out with a spoon.  

Brush tops with the egg wash.

Bake the choux until it puffs up completely [approximately 10 - 12 minutes] at 425 degrees.  Then reduce to 350 degrees and bake until it dries out, approximately  20 - 30 minutes depending on size [it should have a nice golden color]. let cool on rack.

Lilikoi Cream: 
Executive Pastry Chef Ricky De Boer, Fairmont Kea Lani
2 cups Heavy Cream
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup [4 oz] sugar
1/4 cup [2 oz] lilikoi puree [goya brand puree is available at most Mexican markets]
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Bring cream, vanilla, sugar & puree to a  boil.  Temper yolks in and double broil until the cream thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Because I'm a spaz and impatient, I didn't temper the egg yolks enough so I ended up pouring the mixture through a sieve to strain out the clumps.  I mixed this cream with whipped cream [16 ounces of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of sugar] to thicken it enough to hold in the choux.

Using a small pastry tip and bag, I filled each puff with the delicious pastry cream until completed.

For the Caramel recipe, please visit  La Fuji Mama's site - she totally saved me on that one. I used the caramel to build the tower. Well, tower is a gross exaggeration of what it is - maybe mound is a better term.


  1. Amazing - Yours looks so professional - well done!
    I took quite a few liberties with the challenge this month but I loved the result anyway! Glad I mastered the choux pastry!

  2. Very nice job on this challenge!

  3. It looks nice!! nicer than mine :P

  4. Bravo! Well done! U did a great job on it.

  5. It was my first challenge too : ) I'm lovin the Lilikoi Cream! Your croquembouche looks perfect! Rachael saved the day for me too : )

  6. Mardi - I know. i'm TOTALLY motivated to make some savory AND sweet treats with this Choux recipe!! after I figured out that I wasn't cooking it long enough, it was a breeze to make.

    Maria - Thanks...if only that were true!! But i intend to practice...

    Swee San - Yours are beautiful!! I'm jealous that you were able to get the thready look with the sugar. I need to figure that out...

  7. Aww, it still came out gorgeous!

  8. You did such a beautiful job!! I am so proud of you!!!


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