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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Piece Montée



My very first impression about this challenge was eagerness. I have seen too many beautiful Croquembouches on the net and magazines, all I can say is that I was waiting for the right event to trigger me into baking it. I needed that twitch to get it going, and this challenge has done just that.

Thanks to Cat for hosting this month’s challenge – Piece Montée. Piece Montée, which means literally “mounted piece” is even more well known as “Croquembouche”(crunch in the mouth). It has been a wonderful learning experience. Not to forget the burning experience whilst playing with caramel. Well, maybe one should get burnt before he or she could master the art of caramel thoroughly.



And thanks to Sue Sparks of Munchkin Munchies and Katie Yoon of Katie's Something Sweet who constantly amaze me with their decorated cookies. You guys should go and check out their blogs.... breathtaking! So for this challenge I tried to incorporate decorated butterfly cookies into my Croquembouche. I do hope the cookies will go well with the profiteroles.



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.



Next weekend will be an exciting weekend with a bazaar taking place near my residence. As T had suggested, we took a booth to sell cakes, like what we did a few months ago. Learning from our previous experience in dealing with the heat, we are going to prepare big containers filled with ice cubes to function as a emergency refrigerator, in case there are melting cakes again. And I will definitely avoid any cakes that will involve buttercream. It is totally heat disasterous. Instead, I am thinking of chocolate ganache or something more heat friendly. Will start baking this Friday as it is an official public holiday. With 2 free days I hope to do the baking well this time.

Will be right back with the coverage about the bazaar… For now enjoy Croquembouche. It is actually not as complicated as everyone would imagine. Give this glamorous dessert a try and rest assured that you might want one for your next birthday!

PIECE MONTEE - CROQUEMBOUCHE



1. Vanilla Crème Patissiere

Ingredients:
For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (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

Method:
- 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.

2. Pate a Choux
Yield: About 28



Ingredients:
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

Method:
- 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.

3. Hard Caramel Glaze

Ingredients:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Method:
- 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.

4. Assembly of your Piece Montée



Method:
- 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!

58 comments:

  1. This looks gorgeous Kris! Love the butterfly cookies :)

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  2. Now that is truly a master piece montee! Stunning photographs too.

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  3. I've been totally waiting to see what beauty you would come up with and you don't disappoint as usual. Beautiful beautiful job and I wish I was there to go to your cake stall!

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  4. WOW! looks soooo professional! Gorgeous!

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  5. che maestosità!:)
    davvero bravissima!:)

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  6. Beautiful! It's so cheery and festive with the butterflies all over!

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  7. Wow.

    And I thought mine was beautiful. Stupid me :D

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  8. How beautiful - the butterflies are adorable. I like the way you've put it on a cake stand, too.

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  9. I am so jealous of your croquembouche hehe its amazingly good!! Your choux buns are so round it looks so professional. Great job!!

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  10. So very beautiful, Kris. Love the pretty pink butterfly decorations especially.

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  11. Great job! I love the little butterflies, they give the piece an extra dimension.

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  12. That is a truly wonderful creation.. and soo perfect! hats off again Kris :))

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  13. Splendid! Your croquembouche is perfect and so prettily decorated! Another successful challenge.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  14. Beautiful. Love the butterfly cookies, and the ribbon is a nice touch. Perfectly executed cone shape and nice spun caramel--well done!

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  15. Your Crooque em Bouche is definitely pleasing to the eye! Very elegant.

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  16. Beautiful croquembouche and beautiful photos! The butterfly cookies definately go with it, its absolutely stunning.

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  17. The butterflies and spun sugar give your piece such a beautiful, delicate look - I love it! Fantastic work.

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  18. Your Croquembouch looks absolutely stunning!! And what a beautiful pics you make!! Love your website too, has a very elegant look!! Good luck with the bazaar and the cakes!! Regards from Spain!!

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  19. Beautifully done! I love the little butterflies and the height of your croquembouche! I tried doing a cone but failed miserably, so I settled with a dome...
    Anyways, very nice job! Congratulations :D

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  20. yours is so completely beautiful. loves

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  21. Absolutely gorgeous! So feminine and light. Consider my order placed for next years birthday. ;)

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  22. Wow what a beautiful croquembouche. Love the little butterflies, so cute!! Good luck with the bazaar, cant wait to hear about it.

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  23. wonderfull!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOWWWWWWW

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  24. What a brilliant idea for presentation! It looks gorgeous!

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  25. Nothing less than perfection, Kris! So pretty!

    I had to show your post to my husband so that he would know what a real piece montee should look like:)

    You have magazine material here!

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  26. Wow! This is simply gorgeous..love everything about it. Very nicely done!

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  27. The most beautiful I have seen until now!
    I love butterflies...
    Welld done! :)

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  28. I love the butterflies floating around your finished piece! Your croquembouche looks and sounds delicious. Thank you so much for sharing!!

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  29. Wow doesn't seem to quite cover it. That is amazing and looks so profesh. Well done. I love the butterfly cookies too!

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  30. Absolutely beautiful!

    And good luck with the baking + cake booth. I know how terrible the heat and the humidity can do to cakes, but you can do it!!

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  31. Your butterflies are lovely!
    And your Piece Monteé is beautiful!

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  32. Kris - AMAZING. It's more than gorgeous...

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  33. Your post goes beyond pleasing to the eyes all the way to stunning. I'm sure Sue is very impressed with your cookies. Good luck with the cake sale!

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  34. Kris what beautiful job have done!!!
    I like all the design of your dessert but...the little butterfly..oh they are so cuuuteee!!! :-D
    Your photos are delicious as always!
    kisses
    Ago

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  35. This is the most beautiful piece montée i've ever seen. You're a great baker and your photos are stunning!!

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  36. Breathtaking, I love, love, love your color combo. It looks almost serene.
    I really enjoyed this challenge, so happy I joined DB.

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  37. holy cow...gorgeous photos! Super work with the spun sugar and the butterfly cookies are a nice touch

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  38. OMG! Your croquembouche is truely a work of art. And the butterflies and ribbon are just perfect. Great pics too!

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  39. Kris, what a gorgeous croquembouche! It is simply a work of art. As usual the pictures are absolutely beautiful.

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  40. Wow, this is so very lovely. The presentation is gorgeous and your croquembouche looks like it belongs in a bridal magazine. I love everything about it! Great job!

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  41. Your croquembouche is beautiful, but I'm totally in love with your little butterfly cookies! Well done!

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  42. What a gorgeous masterpiece, mouthwatering cream puff. YOu did an amazing job on this challenge my friend.

    Gorgeous Photos

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  43. Gorgeous! Simply gorgeous!

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  44. Sorry I was on holidays - your creation is amazing it looks so beautiful and elegant and the cookies are so cute. I hope the stall goes well for you. I'm very impressed with the work you are doing.
    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  45. Leave it to you, Kris! What a magnificent presentation for your croquembouche! The pink ribbon and butterflies are lovely.
    I made one years ago and everyone had such fun taking it apart for dessert!
    Looking forward to your bazaar report!

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  46. holy cow i am deeply impressed! i just signed up for daring bakers, and this is a little intimidating! you did a wonderful job, though, and i love the little butterflies.

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  47. Wow, great job Kris! The butterflies you decorated with are adorable. I wish you the best of luck on the bazaar, please let us know how it went!

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  48. If croquembouche aka Piece Montee was a good looking human, it would definitely be one heck of a Piece of a**! LOL Most beautiful croquembouche I've ever seen, along the lines of Jacques Torres and Francois Payard. The photos are simply breathtaking too. It's so fun to check out your blog with each challenge and see what amazing beauty you create.

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  49. It looks so elegant! :)Beatiful!

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  50. One word: amazing. Coming from France, piece montees were starting to look a little old fashioned and boring to me. I must say, you've managed to give me a new outlook on this dessert!

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  51. tu es la reine de la décoration, je te dis un grand bravo car je passe un long moment à admirer tes chefs d'œuvre
    je suis admirative devant cette beauté
    bonne journée

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  52. Your croquembouche is so stunningly perfect! I love the swirl of ribbon and little cookies, so pretty. And totally delicious, I hope :)

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  53. Your croquembouche is so pretty! I love the addition of the butterfly cookies, very cute!

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  54. I love the butterflies, they really make this a springtime dessert.
    mimi

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  55. Thank for for this post! I shall attempt to make one soon.

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