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Daring Baker’s Challenge May 2010: Piece Montée or Croquembouche May 27, 2010

Filed under: Daring Kitchen,Desserts — livelovetobake @ 5:56 am

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.

For this Challenge there were 3 Components


1. Pate a choux (Puff Pastries)

2. Creme Patissiere (Cream Filling)

3. Glaze


To be honest I am not a huge fan of creme puffs.  The puff pastry just does not do anything for me.  I guess as the saying goes though…. it is what is on the inside that counts!  Although for this challenge the outside or puff pastry was the part that would be seen not the inside.  Luckily, the recipe that we had to use for the puff pastries seemed pretty easy and they turned out beautiful!  The hardest part for me was the stirring of the eggs into the batter because it seemed to take Fooooorever.  Well it did not really take forever but my arm definitely got a workout since I was feeling the burn 🙂  The consistency of the inside of the puff pastries required some tweeking.  The first attempt was too custardy for me.  The second attempt was a perfect balance!  Finally, was the assembly and decorating of the croquembouche.  I was a little nervous about how it would turn out but I was sooo thrilled with the results!  Would you like to see some


You will need approximately 10 minutes to prepare the puff pastry, 10 minutes to pipe and about 30 minutes to bake each batch. The crème patissiere should take about 10 minutes to cook and then will need to be cooled for at least 6 hours or overnight. The glazes take about 10 minutes to prepare.


Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)

  • ¾ cup – water
  • 6 Tbsp. – unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp. – salt
  • 1 Tbsp. – sugar
  • 1 cup – all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs


For Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 425◦F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


Preparing batter:

2. Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.

3. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

4. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

5. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

6. Add 1 egg and stir. 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.



1. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip. Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high and about 1 inch wide.

2. 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.

3. Brush tops with the egg wash.



1. Bake the choux at 425◦F until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

2. Lower the temperature to 350◦F and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Can be stored in an airtight box overnight.



1. 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.



Almond Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)

  • 1 cup – whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. – cornstarch
  • 6 Tbsp. – granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. – unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. – almond extract



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

2. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture.

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

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

5. *Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil.*

6. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and almond extract.

7. Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Additional Whipped Cream Filling to mix into the Almond Crème Patissiere


Whipped Cream Filling

  • 3/4 cup – heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoons – granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon – vanilla extract



1. Combine the above ingredients into a bowl and mix on high speed until soft peaks form.

2. Fold the whipped cream filling into the chilled Almond Crème Patissiere.



1. 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

  • 1 cup – granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon – lemon juice



1. Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand.

2. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke.

3. 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.

4. If while assembling your piece montée or croquembouche the caramel becomes hard before you are done using it then you can slowly heat it back up again.  Start at a low temperature and work your way to medium heat to ensure that you do not burn the caramel.


Chocolate Glaze

(8 oz.) finely chopped chocolate (semi-sweet)

1. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler.

2. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.


Assembly of the Piece Montée:

I decided to hold the Piece Montée together with the hard caramel glaze.  Then when I was done I used the extra caramel glaze as a decoration and added a chocolate glaze as well.   



It is best to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. I made a sturdy foundation for the bottom of myPiece Montée.  Practice seeing which pieces fit together well.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the bottom 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. Toothpicks may be needed.

When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze, chocolate, or anything creative to decorate. Enjoy!


5 Responses to “Daring Baker’s Challenge May 2010: Piece Montée or Croquembouche”

  1. Leslie Says:

    Beautiful Piece montee. I love how you drizzled chocolate in addition to the caramel over the whole thing.

  2. Joanna Says:

    Wow! I can just taste the chocolatey goodness… I’m literally drooling at my keyboard 😛 Way to go on this month’s challenge, your croquembouche looks fantastic and the strawberries add a nice touch of brightness to the dessert. Keep up the amazing bakes ^_^

  3. Lauren Says:

    Gorgeous job! I love that you did both chocolate and spun sugar – it looks phenomenal :).

  4. Renata Says:

    Your Pièce Montée looks gorgeous… almond filling sounds delicious and the the photos speak for themselves… hmmmm…

  5. Brittany Says:

    Oh mon dieu! This looks like from heaven

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