Croquembouche - the dessert with history & panache!

Croquembouche A Croquembouche is a sweet, elegant wonder to behold.  It is a classic French dessert that means "crunch in the mouth"  The basic construction involves pastry puffs, pastry cream and caramel, spun sugar or toffee.  The puff pastries are piled...

Croquembouche
Croquembouche

Croquembouche is a sweet, elegant wonder to behold.  It is a classic French dessert that means "crunch in the mouth"  The basic construction involves pastry puffs, pastry cream and caramel, spun sugar or toffee.  The puff pastries are piled into a cone, or tower shape and bound together by gossamer threads of sugar of the baker's choice.  (Depending on your source, this dessert is considered a traditional french wedding cake, but also popular at christenings and first communions.) Croquembouche may only be rivaled by Petit Fours in the way of delicacy and prettiness.

The history of this tower of confection begins in France, in medieval times.  According to Croquembouche Patissierie Desserts it was brought to popularity by a famous french chef named Carame.  He studied architecture and felt that pastry was the highest form of such.

Croquembouche were often displayed with pastry puffs of all different shapes including something like an eclair, but the tower of circular puffs prevailed.  The forgiving dough lends itself to creative shapes. These days you will most likely also find them constructed out of donut holes.

There are some sweet variations on this dessert to include chocolate pastry puffs, added decorations made from marzipan, candied flowers, or a chocolate coating.  You might also find chocolate coated pastry balls built into a tower which was then studded with strawberries or multi coated puffs arranged into beautiful color themed wedding presentations. The possibilities are really endless!

The December, 2013 issue of Food Network Magazine boasts a very casual Croquembouche (recipe) with pastry puffs haphazardly piled on top of one another, but the sentiment is the same, and even though it's not a tall rigid tower, it's quite pretty.

The next time you want to dazzle your guests with a dessert that looks like it took many hours and a degree in architecture to create, you'll want to go for a croquembouche!