Introduction: Croquembouche (Cream Puff Tower)
This is an easy way to make an impressive dessert called a croquembouche. It makes a great centerpiece for a holiday buffet. Traditionally, it is a tower of cream puffs held together by caramel and decorated with spun sugar. Because most home cooks do not have access to the croquembouche mold that chefs use , and spun sugar is a task requiring another Instructable, I will show you how to make an easy version, using craft supplies, store-bought cream puffs, and chocolate ganache. Enjoy!
1 styrofoam cone - 3 7/8" x 14 7/8" (purchased at Michael's)
Decorative plate ( I used one 13" in diameter, purchased at Dollar Tree)
Hot glue gun
1 46.6 oz. container cream puffs (90 cream puffs, purchased at Costco)
8 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Confectioners sugar for garnish
Step 1: Assemble the Base
Cover the cone with parchment paper, securing with hot glue. Trim the excess so that the base is flat. Secure the cone to the plate using hot glue.
I was able to remove the cone and the hot glue after the project, and it did not ruin my plate, but care should be taken when choosing the plate you use, just in case.
Step 2: Make the Chocolate Ganache
Break 8 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate into squares or chop into small pieces.
In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream over medium heat until it comes to a simmer (small bubbles will appear at the edges).
Remove cream from the heat and add the chocolate pieces, stirring until the chocolate melts and the mixutre is smooth. If the mixture cools before the chocolate melts entirely, stir constantly over low heat, just until chocolate is melted.
Let the chocolate ganache mixture cool for 10 minutes before moving on to the next step.
Step 3: Assemble the Croquembouche
I thawed the cream puffs for a few minutes on a plate, before assembly (the package will give you thawing instructions). Plan on assembling this about one hour before you plan to serve it, so that the cream puffs are still somewhat cold. Otherwise, after assembly, refrigerate until serving (the cream puffs may become slightly soggy).
Dip cream puffs, one at a time, into the chocolate ganache mixture, so that about one-third of the cream puff is covered in chocolate.
Surround the base of the cone with cream puffs, using the ganache as the "glue". I put another row of cream puffs on the plate to provide a larger base for the croquembouche.
Continue to dip the cream puffs in the ganache and apply them onto the cone, using toothpicks when necessary to provide support. Place them close together so that none of the parchment paper shows. If you still have some gaps when the croquembouche is complete, you can fill in the gaps with extra ganache.
Step 4: Garnish Your Masterpiece
I used a small strainer to sift confectioner's sugar over the finished croquembouche. It looked a bit like snow and made the croquembouche festive for the holidays. You could use other garnishes such as colored candies, spun sugar, or anything else you like.