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Crouquembouche - caramel flood

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Made my first proper Crouquembouche the other day and it looked great... to begin with.  

 

I did the caramel work on the day of eating, decorating it with a tiny drizzle of dark chocolate, fondant flowers and spun sugar.  When we left the house around lunch-time it was all fine, but when we came to eat it at around 7pm, the caramel had started to dissolve, the spun sugar had all but disappeared and there was a puddle of sugary water at the base of the tower.  The water had softened the choux and changed the textures completely so the amazing sensation of soft centre, crisp pastry and cracking caramel was distinctly lessened.

 

As this was a practice run, it was for us to eat with friends, but I can't have that happen for a client's wedding so I need to work out why it happened.  Can anyone help?

 

The caramel was heated to 154˚C and was setting to a hard crack.  The tower was transported in a basic card cake delivery box, with some airflow around it.  The weather was cold and dry, although it has been raining for weeks here.  Everything, other than the caramel, was cold when I assembled the tower.  I assembled the tower using a silicon sheet and anodised tin cone kit that is designed for Croquembouche. The choux was filled with creme patt.

 

Any advice would be great!

 

NB. A while back I did a dry run of sticking gingerbread together with caramel and had a similar problem where over a few days the caramel attracted moisture from the air and started to drop beads of sugar water onto my royal icing "snow".  

post #2 of 5

Honestly, there's nothing you did wrong. It's just what happens. That's what sugar does. Even "dry" days have some humidity in them, and the sugar soaks it up and starts to dissolve. All you can do is make the croquembouche as close to serving time as possible, and in a lot of cases it's just not realistic. Some climates are better suited for croquembouche, like the Mojave Desert. 

 

There is one thing I thought of to try the next time I make one, and that is to create a sealed box (made of styrofoam) in which I place the finished croquembouche along with plastic ziploc bags punctured with pinholes that are filled with dessicant beads. I've had great luck storing caramel cages in sealed plastic containers with dessicant, so in the case of the croquembouche, that may work too. 

post #3 of 5

Just my 2 cents. We have done many Croquembouche for Weddings. We usually like to talk the bride into one large display Croc. This one is usually empty puffs but 4-5 ft. We then either have the finished puffs on trays next to the Croq, and the customer can chose their liking. Or they come out of the kitchen plated with sauce. We insert a couple of real puffs on the big display and identify them so the B&G can do their tasting.

We also make many chocolate Croquembouches with different decorations, sugar flowers, pearl sugar etc. This way we can keep everything in the safety zone for customers.

 One more thing. For a real Croq, We dip the puffs empty. Let them sit and harden and then fill and stick. If you take cold filled puffs and dip them in your hot caramel you will always get condensation. Like putting a glass of ice water out in the hot sun. It will melt. If you go real I would suggest leaving the filled puffs out for a bit before dipping.

Over the years we sell many Croqs around the holiday and I would say over 90% prefer the dark or white chocolate or mixed. They are also easier to remove from the cone.

HTH's

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks both, really appreciate the advice.  

 

Was thinking I could use choc instead of caramel, but wanted to be able to offer the traditional French version as is very fashionable on TV cooking shows in Europe right now, plus they taste SO good when you first make them.

 

The idea of a cake being on display at a wedding breakfast and slowly disassembling itself in front of guests strikes horror into my heart!  I think that I'll just have to accept that England in the rain is just going to be damper than the French Mediterranean and make them "profiterole style" instead.

 

B&G's in the UK tend to be mystified by the idea of dummies layers, cutting cakes or display cakes and need much more persuasion, where couples in the States and Middle East seem to be more open to the idea.  

 

I will do more experimenting.  Maybe I'll try a middle ground; if I just use the caramel to decorate with spun sugar it might not do too much damage and I will see how long it lasts.

 

 

Thanks again.  

Karen

post #5 of 5

Salutations CakegirlUK!

 

So you want to make a Crouquembouche. eh…

 

 

     If you really want to be the "go to" person in the UK known for your fantastic classic Crouquembouche, you would have to dedicate the resources (pounds)  to construct an air tight presentation "box" with a perforated false bottom where a desiccant (TY Chefpeon!), like indicating blue silica gel, could be stored to keep the hygroscopic caramel from breaking down. It would actually take the appearance of a museum display and you could make it quite ornate. The Crouquembouche would only be ceremoniously removed just before serving. What a pain in the arse, but you could probably corner the market for this product if that is what you have your heart set upon… 

 

Good Luck and happiness!

 

I did this as a centerpiece for our Christmas buffet. A little over 2,000 puffs, unfilled. About a gallon of caramel, a little nougatine work and almond pastilles complete it. (I did this 10 years ago!) Since I was never a Pastry Chef (actually I was a Soldier) and I also had to do the Gingerbread Chateau, and the actual food for 600 it came out OK.

Have fun!
SGMChef

Don't take my word for it! I wouldn't trust me either!
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Have fun!
SGMChef

Don't take my word for it! I wouldn't trust me either!
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