I have finally completed a Daring Baker challenge again. It has been a long absence, and I have definitely missed it. I miss the challenge of trying something new, learning a new technique, being inspired by the amazing work of fellow bakers...and it keeps me blogging.
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.
When I decided I would get back into the swing of the challenges and checked in at the site, I was very excited to see what was selected for this month's challenge. Croqeumbouche is something I have wanted to make for a long time, and one of those fun desserts that looks like a lot more work than it is.
Then I decided I would make it for a brunch with some great friends who, like the DB challenges, we had also been missing for some time, and that's when the nerves started to set in. The only time I had ever had a croquembouche was at one of the Blair's amazing holiday dessert parties. And because my friend is such a wonderful baker, it was of course gorgeous and delicious. I had a lot to live up to if this was going to be my audience. Overall I was quite pleased. My final result was not as dramatic or show stopping as Mrs. Blair's (my sugar work certainly leaves a bit to be desired), but it was delicious.
I have made choux pastry before - for the Daring Baker's eclair challenge - and it came out fine, if a bit eggy. This recipe however, was awesome! Very easy, fast, and fool proof. It will certainly be my go to choix recipe in the future. The pastry cream was also fantastic. I made the espresso version, and R and I could have eaten a bowl full of it all by itself. The beautiful thing is that this recipe is also easy and fast. My sincere thanks go out to this month's hosts for putting together a great challenge with some wonderful recipes. The recipes are so good, I'm going to go ahead and include the whole thing for you.
My notes for the recipes: I followed them to the letter (which I often do when baking something new). I would recommend doubling the Pastry Cream recipe for the amount of choux. The recipe was written as a half batch, but I think it needs the whole batch...did I mention we could have eaten a gallon of this stuff?