Because my birthday was not too far away, and because I was sick for it, I thought I would make a birthday cake that was a little unique. My friend Joseph told me about his desire to make a croquembouche, and so I thought I would give it a try as well. After all, what can be so difficult about caramel and cream puffs? Right?
The Croquembouche is a French cake, used for weddings and other special occasions. It's made of cream puffs (or similar pastries), and generally glued together with caramel in a conical shape. There have been other interpretations, but this is the one I have found to be the most common. Therefore, it shouldn't be that difficult to make and put together.
First off, I cheated with the cream puffs. I have made them in the past, and I don't mind making them, but I didn't have the time to dedicate to making them. Instead, I purchased them from Costco at $11 for 110 miniature cream puffs. So that means all I had to do was make the caramel and then start sticking them together.
The caramel was simple, being just 2 1/2 cups of sugar with 2/3 of a cup of water, boiled until a very light, golden brown. Once done, I pulled it off the stove, and started dipping and sticking. Simple, easy, and I sneaked a couple of cream puffs while I did it.
One thing I did learn very quickly was to be very careful with the caramel. It's HOT! I burned two fingertips in the process. The cone was not perfect, but then I was a bit distracted while I was putting it together. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. But it did end up looking pretty good with the thin slivers of caramel I had decorating the sides.
Then, after it cooled and we had dinner, I gave it a try. The cream puffs were great, but the caramel made it way too sweet. I wasn't too happy with the results, and so I may think about using another adhesive, like chocolate, on the next one I attempt. Who says French cooking has to be difficult? ^_^