DB Challenge – Pièce Montée

The DB Challenge for this May,
A caramelized sugar-spun Montée.

Croque em Bouche in France it’s famed,
Crunch in mouth translates its name.

Profiteroles filled up with cream,
Washed in egg, they shine and gleam.

Dip them in hot caramel,
So delicious is the smell.

Build them up into a tower,
Pull them off and just devour.

Golf balls are the perfect size,
To tennis balls my choux did rise.

This creamy, crunchy pastry treat,
Took many bites for me to eat.

You won’t be hearing me complain,
“Less is more,” I will not feign. 🙂

Thank you to Cat from Little Ms. Cupcake for this great new experience. The recipes are from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and were originally created by famed pastry chef, Nick Malgieri.
I wish my pastry was a bit smaller but it did taste delicious. Although I have the recipe for vanilla creme below, I used chocolate whipped cream. I loved spinning the caramel and if I ever make this again, I think I might get a little crazy with it – it was the best part.

Ingredients:

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pâte â Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) 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.

Preparing Batter:
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.

Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a 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 egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Baking:
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.
Filling:
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.

Hard Caramel Glaze – (Careful!! Don’t burn yourself.):
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place)

When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

11 thoughts on “DB Challenge – Pièce Montée

  1. A worthy piece of poetry written for a worthy piece montee…WOW!! You had loads of fun with this one! FAB!!

  2. Love the poem, that is so ingenious. Love your creation as well 🙂

  3. That poem sums it up perfectly, great job!

  4. Aww that is such a sweet poem that you wrote! Well done on your piece montee and for your poem! 😀

  5. Your poem and your croquembouche are so lovely and original; I have always wanted to make this dessert but balked at the use of caramel which I thought would be too tricky; you did an amazing job, bravo.

  6. I love your poem! You’re so talented! Your Pièce looks great and those cherries added a beautiful color! Yummy! Thanks for your lovely comment on my post. I agree with you that the caramel was the most exciting part!

  7. 😀 Oh I love you poem!!! 😀
    And your croquembouche, too!!! i love spun the sugar 😉
    Very good job!
    Kisses
    Ago

  8. Amazing, Sue! I don’t think I could ever make croquembouche, my skills are no where near yours. Although, I have no problem eating it. love it!

  9. That is one beautiful croquembouche..Piece Montee..whatever. let’s just call it YUM and gorgeous! I’m telling you..someone needs to get you a cookbook deal with your talent in the kitchen and with the pen! (well..computer keyboard nowadays lol)

  10. You are Awesome!!! I love the poem and love the sound of “caramelized sugar-spun Mot’ee”!!!

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