A croquembouche (kroke-em-boosh) is a tower of profiteroles (cream puffs) stuck together with a thin layer of crisp caramel, which gives the dessert its name, “crocque em bouche” or “crunches in the mouth.” This dramatic pile of puffs is typically served at weddings, but I’ve taken liberties and find it a worthy dessert for any big occasion.
In a pan, heat the milk, mango and 1/4 cup sugar over medium heat until simmering. In a bowl combine the egg yolks, remaining sugar, cornstarch and salt.
Once the milk has come to a simmer, ladle a small amount out and whisk it into the egg mixture to warm it up. This is called tempering and it prevents the eggs from cooking too quickly.
Once the egg mixture is warm to the touch, whisk it into the pot of milk. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil, whisk it vigorously for about 3 minutes so that you are sure to cook the cornstarch. Whisk in the vanilla, rum and butter until it is smooth.
Place in a large bowl and immediately whisk in the chopped white chocolate.
Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled.
In a small saucepan combine the sugar, water and corn syrup and bring to a boil, without stirring. Make sure all the sugar is submerged in the water. Once it turns amber, you can stir.
Immediately plunge the bottom of the pan into an ice water bath to stop it from burning.
Dip the profiteroles into the hot caramel. Leave the pot in the ice bath until it stops smoking. WARNING: there is nothing worse than a caramel burn, so you may want to do this with tongs! If your caramel starts to seize as you are working, slowly melt it again over low heat.
After you dip each profiterole, lay them on a parchment-lined sheet tray to set up. You can dip the profiteroles hours ahead or even the day before and store them in the refrigerator. The caramel will get a little tacky, but it is nice not to have to do everything the day you serve.
Olive Oil Cookie Snowflakes
Recipe instructions found here. I used hazelnuts instead of the pistachios, but you decide which nut to go with. I stamped out the rolled dough with a snowflake cutter, added a toothpick (which bakes in to create a stick to poke into the Christmas Croquembouche, dusted them with sparkle sugar and baked until golden.
Typically you would use a Croquembouche Form to assemble the tower, but the one I bought was ENORMOUS, so I improvised and made one for the amount of profiteroles I had. I wrapped thick paper around a cone shaped strainer and taped it. Then I covered it in parchment paper and trimmed the bottom flat. If you go this homemade route, get rid of the strainer before you use your form. See me assemble my croquembouche here.
On a parchment lined surface, place one row of the profiteroles along the base of your form, bottoms down. Dip the side of the profiteroles in the caramel and then stack them, with the bottoms leaning on the form. The caramel glues the whole thing together. Continue creating rows like this until you reach the top!
Let the caramel set for a few minutes, then peel the form out from the bottom. Set on a serving plate and decorate or leave it simple as is. I poked the snowflake cookies randomly into the profiteroles. You could also leave it at that, but I added spun sugar garland. See my video to watch me do it. Wrap the garland around the croquembouche.
This dessert can be made over a few days, but you need to assemble it the day you are going to serve it.