Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Croquembouche, an exotic twist

Ok.  Exotic to me but maybe not to you. You see this is the first time I tried pandan. I heard about it last year and have been following anyone who writes about it and reading their recipes, studying.  A food nerd, I know.  I looked high and low for the extract or powder and to no avail.  What I did find were frozen pandan leaves.  These are used for Thai pandan wrapped chicken for the most part. While I would love to try those I really just wanted to make something sweet with it.  I boiled the leaves and made pandan water.  The smell was really different.  My kids thought it was popcorn and even tortillas.  While it does kind of remind me of that- it does have its own unique and pleasing flavor.

Sticking with the Asian kind of theme I made coconut pastry cream and filled the puffs with that.It was a crowd pleaser.  I dont really think the pandan shined through as much as I would have liked.  Hopefully, I will find the pandan extract soon.

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.
Pate a Choux

¾ cup (175 ml.) pandan 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
Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

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.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open 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 the egg wash.
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.
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.
Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.

Coconut Pastry Cream
adapted from, The Sono Baking Company Cookbook
by John Barricelli

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 vanilla bean pod and seeds (pods scraped and put aside)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, half of the sugar, the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the milk.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the remaining sugar, the remaining milk, vanilla bean pod and the salt.  Bring to a boil.
Ladle the hot mixture very slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so you don't cook the egg. Once you have mixed about two ladles full, you can pour the remaining mixture into the bowl, whisk to combine.  Pour back into sauce pan and return to the heat.  Bring to a boil, making sure the pastry filling thickens.  It may look clumpy.  If large clumps begin to form take off the heat and whisk briskly.  The mixture will smooth out.

Add the three tablespoons of butter to the pastry cream, whisking until fully incorporated.  Stir in the vanilla seeds and coconut.

Pour into a glass bowl and lay plastic wrap over top to prevent a skin from forming.


Murasaki Shikibu said...

Looks great. It's a real b*tch trying to find ingredients that aren't commonly used in the area that you live in. I do remember the saga of trying to find something as banal as Cream of Tartar here.

vanillasugar said...

there can never be enough chocolate on these.
i still, have yet to make these, they kind of scare me to be honest

LittleRed said...

Yum! They certainly do look delicious:)

kat said...

Oh those sound so good!

elra said...

Oh my, Lori .... love that azure color decoration on your croquembouche. It's very inviting!

Cristine said...


Audax said...

Thank you for the kind comments on my blog about the space time continuum and the way blogger assigns time and date stamps is even beyond the best of us I think it relies on which server (and its time zone) when a posting gets done.

About pandan it main taste sensations are hay, grass and leafy vegetation. It goes will with fish and tropical fruit. Your final croquembouche looks wonderful and I bet tasted great. Cheers from Audax in Melbourne Australia I'm on a shoet holiday.

Mimi said...

Those look great. I love the coconut cream filling.

grace said...

bravo, lori! incidentally, i think i would be satisfied with some coconut pastry cream piped directly into my mouth, and that's that.

Barbara Bakes said...

The coconut pastry cream sounds scrumptious. I have never heard of pandan before. Now you have me very curious.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! Your croquembouche looks delicious and lovely!



Ingrid said...

Nicely done, Lori! I'm going to keep my eyes open for your pandan extract!

natalia said...

Ciao Lori ! Wonderful piece montèe !

Lisa Michelle said...

Oh, about talented..yours never ceases to amaze me!! I love your chocolate drizzled 'bouche' and the baby blue flowers just make it even more beautiful than it already is. Amazing job as always!

precious said...

Your croquembouche looks pretty! I like that you added a flower on it! I can't wait to make some!
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