Desserts · Pastry

Festive Mango Croquembouche

Another year, another croquembouche attempt. This year featured mango pastry cream and choux pastry that actually held it’s shape – huzzah! # 104: Festive Mango Croquembouche

We meet again, shiny tree of profiteroles. Last year’s version was a bit of a mess: choux pastry that collapsed, pastry cream that wouldn’t thicken and caramel that burned all my fingers. I vowed this year to improve every element, and I truly think I did! My mango creme patisserie was the right consistency, the choux pastry held it’s shape and I escaped with only one tiny caramel burn. Plus I found sparklers! Ah sweet, sparkly victory.

A change in recipes, and a year’s worth of practicing pastry cream and choux, definitely helped. Zoe Francois’s instruction videos on Instagram are just the best. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. I’m a visual learner, so watching someone bake through each step is incredibly helpful. And she’s got fun music in the background, what’s not to love?

Eggs are the unsung hero of this dessert. (Side note: have you ever heard the memory trick for keeping desert and dessert separate? Desserts are sweeter so they deserve an extra ‘s.’ Also, ‘stressed’ is desserts spelled backwards. Do what you will with this lovely knowledge.) Anywho . . . eggs allow the choux to rise and the pastry cream to thicken. Give them a round of applause, please. 

With the end of 2018 in sight, I’m feeling the itch the clean out everything and re-prioritize. This includes the freezer. Welcome back to the land of the living, mango puree! I had the perfect amount of puree left to make this pastry cream, so it must have been fate. 

Voila! I waved my magic wand and it became the perfect consistency. In this case, my magic wand is a whisk over medium heat for three minutes after tempering the egg mixture.

Off to chill.

Lace up your choux(s), time to make some pastry.

So much steam during this step! Straight from the stove to the mixer.

Don’t forget to:

  • Twist the pastry bag as you go so you don’t get unwieldy air bubbles
  • Pat down the pointed tops so they don’t burn before the puff is fully cooked!

Oh hello! Zoe’s recipe called for nearly 20 minutes of baking time, plus another 5 with the oven door cracked open to make sure they dry out thoroughly. I omitted the middle step of turning the pans halfway through since I wanted maximum rise.

If you have a lovely set of piping tips including the diagonal nozzle, it’s perfect for this step! If not, just poke a hole in the bottom of each puff with a toothpick or knife and then use a ziploc as a makeshift piping bag. No need for fancy tools. 

Caramel is so talkative with all it’s bubbles. And so difficult to use before it turns into glass! I had to keep it over low heat the whole time to keep it the right consistency.

What is Cinderella had a glass hat instead of glass slippers? Well these little puffs felt extra dressed up in their caramel hats.

Fun fact about caramel: once it gets to the hard-crack stage, the color of it will indicate how brittle it will be when it cools. All caramel will harden to a certain extent, but with varying levels of pliability. A lighter caramel hasn’t had time to break down all of the sucrose into smaller sugars, leaving plenty behind to help harden the finished product into a sheet of glass. A darker caramel has had plenty of time to break down the sucrose and there is less of the original sugar present when it hardens – allowing for a bendy consistency. (If you want to read more into it, I found it while reading CookWise by Shirley O. Corriher.)

Happy munching and crunching!

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