Sunday, September 16, 2012

Croquembouche Cupcakes

As you are probably aware National Cupcake Week starts tomorrow (17th-23rd September) so what better time to attempt these Croquembouche Cupcakes than now. I've been wanting to make them for ages but was put off by making the choux pastry but having successfully made choux swans last weekend I thought I'd give them a go.
In order to make these cupcakes I followed a mixture of recipes. To start I made some tasty vanilla cupcakes (recipe below) but you could try out a different flavour of cupcake if you'd prefer. I then thought that maybe a vanilla cupcake with choux pastry might need a little something extra to lift the flavour, so I cored out the centre of some of my cupcakes and filled them with caramel sauce that I happened to have in the cupboard. You could also try a butterscotch, toffee or fudge sauce...and if you have the time and inclination there are plenty of recipes on the internet if you want to make your own. Dulce de leche could also be good.
To make the choux I then used the choux recipe from the latest Great British Bake Off book which I also used for the choux swans (find the recipe with the choux swans). I used a Wilton 2A to pipe rounds which were slightly smaller than a profiterole. Once piped if you have any peaks on your pastry you can dip your finger in cold water and pat them down. I baked mine at 200c/180c fan for 20 minutes and then quickly opened the door a crack to let the steam out before baking for around a further 5 minutes.
Once the mini-choux buns were cool (which takes hardly any time) I whipped some cream and piped some into each one. You just need to push your nozzle end through the bottom and pipe until the edges appear to be expanding a little.
To finish the cupcakes I made some caramel. To do this is fairly simple...you need 75g of sugar to 1 tbsp of water. I used 300g sugar and 4 tbsps but you can modify according to how much you need. Use a heavy-based sauceapan (don't use non-stick) and heat gently until all the sugar has dissolved. Don't stir but you can swirl the pan.

Once the sugar is dissolved you can turn up the heat and bring it to the boil. Boil until it reaches 160c (if you have a sugar thermometre) and it should turn a lovely amber colour. When you reach 160c plunge the base of the saucepan into cold water. After a minute or so your caramel will be ready to use. If you don't have a thermometre you can do this by eye and if after a few minutes of using your caramel it has harden you can put it back on a gentle heat and it will soften again.
I made two different styles of croquembouche. The one above is my favourite, the top of each little choux is carefully dipped in the caramel to give a shiny amber surface which gives a really striking effect. Once the caramel on top is set the bottoms were then dipped in order to stick the choux to the cupcake and to each other. The inspiration for this style comes from Laduree and you can see their mini croquembouche below. If you are feeling even more adventurous you can also dip your caramel topped choux in sugar nibs or crushed pistachios to give more flavour and texture...it also adds contrast as below!
My second croquembouche cupcake was more traditional. The bottom of the  chouxs were dipped in caramel and stuck together on top of the cupcake. I used four chouxs per cupcake but if you made yours slightly smaller you could build up a higher tower if you wished. To finish these off I spun some sugar around the chouxs. Just dip a fork into your caramel and then pull away and you should get spun sugar strands. I dipped my fork and then wound the strands around the cake.
The theme for this month's Calendar Cakes is Cupcakes...what else! These cupcakes are my first cakey entry this month. Calendar Cakes is hosted alternately by myself and Dolly Bakes. So if you're making cupcakes this month you'd be most welcome to enter...check out the details here.
I'm also entering my Croquembouche Cupcakes into the Classic French Challenge from Blue Kitchen Bakes the theme this month is choux pastry so these cupcakes are perfect.
Finally, I'm entering for the first time into Cupcake Tuesday hosted by Liz over at Hoosier Homemade. Cupcake Tuesday is a weekly linky party to share you're cupcake creations.
These cupcakes are reasonably time consuming as they have lots of different elements but they are well worth a bake. If you've always wanted to try choux pastry like me or perhaps you fancy a go at caramel then these cupcakes are a good excuse! However, due to the cream and choux pastry they won't keep for long, so it may be a case of making them in the morning just before friends come over for a cup of tea and a chat in the afternoon! ;-)
 
Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
 
80g unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
240 ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 large eggs
 
This is my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe as it gives a really tasty, moist cupcake....and they're simple to make.
 
To start pre-heat your oven to 190c/170c fan/gas 5 and prepare the muffin tin/cupcake tray by lining with cases. I used gold and pink foil cupcake wrappers. This recipe has slightly unusual methodology but you need to start by mixing the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and salt with an electric mixer. The ingredients should be well combined and ressemble fine breadcrumbs by the time you've finished.
 
Next lightly mix together the wet ingredients in a measuring jug - milk, vanilla and eggs. Begin mixing the breadcrumb mixture again at a slow speed and then carefully pour in just over two-thirds of the milk mixture as you mix. Combine well, scraping down the sides if necessary. Finally add the rest of the milk mixture and beat until smooth.
 
Fill the cupcake cases with the batter to about two-thirds full. This should make you around 12-16 cupcakes. The cakes should then go straight into the oven and should bake for around 18-20 minutes until lightly brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool ever so slightly before removing them from the tin and cooling completely on a wire rack.
 
* Original recipe The Hummingbird Bakery - Cake Days

13 comments:

  1. Wow what an amazing bake! this would looked amazing on a wedding cupcake tower. A show stopper of a cupcake!

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  2. Wow, those are gorgeous cupcakes! Almost too fancy to eat... Note I said "almost" ;-)

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  3. These are absolutely gorgeous!

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  4. Croquembouche is one of the most beautiful inventions and something of great beauty. Your cupcakes are so skilful and impressive. I know I would love them especially when I got to the secret caramel centre. You are so good at techniques, who needs a cookery school if you can teach yourself so well!

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  5. Very impressed! What a lot of work. I've never done the sugar strands which always look very impressive, so will have to bite the bullet and do them one day!

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  6. I love these, and what a fab nd fun way to learn some new techniques.

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  7. stunning! I had croquembouche at my wedding (an enormous one) these mini ones are perfect, what a FANTASTIC idea! love the sugar strands

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  8. Gosh, I want to try these too! You have made them to perfection. You are becoming an expert in baking. Yummy!!

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  9. Brillant idea Laura and they look amazing. So nice to see something other than frosting on top of a cupcake too. Defo one to bookmark for a special occasion.

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  10. What a beautiful and original cupcake. I've never thought of merging to classics together. Thanks for sharing your ideas x

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  11. Oh gosh, I love it, I love it, I love it! I can't wait for my copy of Ladurée to arrive! This looks amazingly delicious : )

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  12. Oh my goodness - these are just heavenly! You're very talented - I love them. I would love to try choux pastry. I think I will need to practise a bit before I can achieve such a beautiful result! :)

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  13. Laura these are amazing - absolutely stunning and what a treat!

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Your comments are greatly appreciated!