For the Sweet Tooth: Tropical Croquembouches | Read it on www.itsalamb.com #Food #Pastries #Croquembouches #Holidays #Baking #SweetTooth

The best part about the holiday is finally getting to sleep in, getting to watch all of the movies I want, seeing my friends, and last but not least, baking with my family. Baking for me is always a team effort. I either need someone (usually my sister) to hold something while I take a picture, or mix something because I'm getting tired (usually my dad), or to help me troubleshoot a recipe (usually my mom). This holiday was no exception. 

This time around, my family and I attempted to make Croquembouches (aka Profiteroles, aka Cream Puffs) to kick off the new year. Because nothing says "Happy New Year" quite like a tower of Croquembouches. Honestly, if you have got nothing to do on a cold winter's afternoon, I  suggest giving these a try. And as I was compiling each puff, it gave me a good opportunity to reflect on the outgoing year and things that the last decade had taught me about life and baking.

1. Don't be afraid to try new things

Cliché, I know. Almost everything that I have been too intimidated to try (i.e. dancing, acting in a musical, blogging, etc.), once I finally got around to trying it, I realized almost immediately how easy it was to do. I don't mean that I became an expert at whatever I was doing right off the bat, but that, once I got started, I realized that I should not have been intimidated in the first place. In fact, it made me regret not trying it sooner because in the time it took me to decide to take the initial step, I missed out on valuable practice time that would have allowed me to be better than I am now.

Strangely enough, making Croquembouches was one of those things. Now, that I have made them I am definitely better off, and have the skills I need to tackle other pastries. (But also it is an incredibly easy recipe to do, so if you're on the fence, you should definitely give it a try).

2. Two heads are better than one

This applies to life and when making croquembouches, trust me.

The recipe listed was supposed to produce 150 standard size croquembouches. But, I am sure that we ended making a ton more. This means that there was a lot of piping (and then scooping when we got too tired and gave up), baking, cooling, stuffing, and dipping fun to last for hours, and I do mean hours. It is great because if your family is prone to sneaking bites of your treats while baking like mine is (aka the reason I am unsure how many croquembouches we actually made) then you will have more than enough left afterwards. However, if you are tackling this task on your own, I suggest either making less or making room in your freezer to use the dough at a later time.

3. Be creative

Croquembouches are great if you have lots of leftovers remaining from previous pastry endeavours. Especially if you are comfy in your PJs, it is cold outside, and you have absolutely no intention of leaving the house to get more groceries, then this is the recipe for you. Luckily, I had made a tasty, but not quite festive-looking yule log and had all of this "tropical" mousse left that needed to be used soon. I also had some raspberry whipping cream that had been sitting in my freezer waiting to be defrosted and used once again. And coincidentally, I had just enough chocolate shavings to make some chocolate ganache to dip the puffs in for extra added flavour. At that point, I figured why stop there? It's the new year! So I decided to finally find a way to incorporate the guava paste, that I have had sitting in my pantry. It was a great choice

Be creative my friends, because who knows what incredible things your innovations might uncover?

4. Be flexible

Plans change all the time. That is just the way life works, and you can either change your plans to adapt with it, or get stuck clinging to the past.

In this case, our initial plan was to make a sophisticated Croquembouche tower, like the kind you see in one of those baking contests on TV. However, as the day progressed, and the size of our puffs grew with our impatience, we were more focused on getting to eat them, then stacking them. So we put that dream to rest for the time being. That's totally a-okay because in the end our little project definitely got us in the holiday spirit and we had a good time making these tasty treats. And I am sure that you will too!

For the Sweet Tooth: Tropical Croquembouches | Read it on www.itsalamb.com #Food #Pastries #Croquembouches #Holidays #Baking #SweetTooth

Recipes Used

Croquembouches: Tasty's How To Make A Croquembouche (Cream Puff Tower)

Chocolate Ganache: Sally's How to Make Chocolate Ganache (Easy Recipe)

Tropical Mousse: Rebecca's Creamy Orange Mousse

Guava Marmalade

I definitely eyeballed and used some baker's intuition on this one. So I do not have an exact recipe, but here was my process:

1 cup of water
1/2 a pack of Conchita guava paste (so 200 grams or 1 cup)
Lemon juice, to taste

I brought the water to a boil on the stovetop. Next, I added the guava paste and once added, I kept stirring and squishing it to speed up the melting process. Eventually, once the paste had melted down, I added the lemon juice and covered it to let it reduce/thicken up to my desired jam-like consistency.

Assembly


This is the fun part! Once the Croquembouches are cooked and cooled down, proceed with a piping bag to stuff it with whatever combination of fillings that you desire.

Some Croquembouches had mousse and marmalade, while others had the raspberry whipped cream and marmalade, and others were a combo of all three (although you may want to pay special attention to the portion you are using to stuff it because it tended to explode out of the other end).

Then you can dip them in the chocolate ganache and leave them on a baking tray to harden. (Note: Do leave the dipping to the end. We got a bit overzealous with the chocolate and dipped prior to stuffing, and the result was kind of a mess! Learn from my mistakes, and dip yours after stuffing.)

For the Sweet Tooth: Tropical Croquembouches | Read it on www.itsalamb.com #Food #Pastries #Croquembouches #Holidays #Baking #SweetTooth
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