I was assigned to bring dessert for a dinner party last Saturday night. The hubby pooh-poohed my suggestion of an Orange-Poppyseed cake topped with Orange Syrup. Too ordinary he said. Ha!
The challenge was on. I thought then Croquembouche! ...and I don't even watch MasterChef.
I've NEVER made this before although I have made profiteroles once years ago.
Add to this the insane idea of wanting to make sure I've done all the washing and cleaning as well as take the eldest to her dress rehearsal and back...before I could even get started with making anything. I did all these by 2.30pm at which point I started.
Julie had Julia Child but I had Delia Smith and Donna Hay. Delia guided me through making choux pastry (recipe also available online). I found that easy enough that I decided to upgrade the initial plan of whipped cream filling to a full-blown Creme Patisserie (Pastry Cream according to the MasterChef recipe). And since I was making that, I then decided to use the spare egg whites into a pavlova base - the children can have that for dessert since the croquembouche was for the adults.
As the oven cooled down from 220 to 150, I whipped up the pavlova base. With the pavlova baking, I set to work with the pastry cream (recipe from Donna Hay). That turned out just okay so I went back to consult Delia who suggested subtly that I can add liquor if I wanted. Sweet! In went some Butterscotch Schnapps. I accidentally poured in more than intended but it turned out yummy albeit a bit high in the alcohol-content.
I used Donna's recipe for the caramel - didn't need the glucose that MasterChef required. I filled the buns with the pastry cream, dunked into the very hot caramel and assembled my croquembouche. Afterwards, I swirled some toffee floss. I also made extra toffee swirls to decorate the kids' pavlova and used the most beautiful specimen to top the croquembouche (see right).
It was all over, including pavlova base and chopped fruit, in just under 3 hours. Did I say I washed up as I went along?
I know my work did not compare with the MasterChef's one. After all, I do not own a croquembouche cone. But, I think I had a fighting chance when compared to Delia's one (see below)....well, maybe.
I rose to the challenge and glad I did because it was appreciated and made a fitting end to a truly scrumptious dinner shared with a bunch of good friends. The kids enjoyed the pavlova as well. The outside was crisp but the inside was luscious marshmallow-soft. Perfect!