Croquembouche (Cream Puff Tree With Caramel Strings)

Hey guys! This is what I made for my Thanksgiving dinner last week. It was a real hit with the family and friends, and I'm really happy and proud to share with you my shiny cream puff tree. This is a dessert I prepared the night before of thanksgiving, and decorated the next day with the caramel strings.


Cream Puff
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 sticks (1 cup or 16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 8 eggs

Pastry Cream Filling
  • 4 cups 1% milk 
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoon of butter (optional)

  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
Cream Puff
  1. Place a pot on the stove and turn on the heat to medium heat. Add 2 cups of water, 2 sticks of butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 3 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Stirring until this becomes a rolling boil, or melted and bubbly. 
  2. Remove pot from heat and dump all of the 2 cups of flour into the bowl all at once. Stir using a wooden spoon until a ball form, or until incorporated (30 seconds). 
  3. Bring this dough back to the heat, and stir for 30 seconds to evaporate some of the moisture from the dough. 
  4. Bring the dough back off the heat, and place the dough into a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed and pour each of the 8 eggs into the bowl one at a time. Stop the mixer between each egg to scrape the bowl. Add 1-2 more eggs to reach a more cream puff dough consistency if needed.
  5. Using a large circle piping tip and piping bag, pipe dough onto pans lines with parchment paper or silpat mats. I made my cream puffs a little smaller than the average cream puff, but you may make them regular sized. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes then bake for an addition 375F for 20 minutes or until golden and puffy
Pastry Cream
  1. In a large pot heat 4 cups of milk with 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract, heat until this boils, and the milk puffs up the pot. 
  2. Separate 12 egg yolks, place the egg yolks into a  large bowl. Whisk in 1 1/3 cups of granulated sugar into the egg yolks until light an fluffy. Add in the cornstarch and mix. 
  3. Once the milk has boiled, pour it into a large measuring cup or a pourable cup for easy pouring. Pour in some of the milk into the egg yolk mix to loosen it up. Then in a steady stream pour in the hot milk into the egg yolk mix, stirring it constantly with a whisk. 
  4. Return the mix into the pot through a strainer, and continue heating this on medium heat until it thickens, while still stirring constantly. Once it thickens remove from heat, pour into a bowl, cover with saran wrap touching the skin of the cream puff, and another layer of saran wrap covering the entire bowl. Cool and refrigerate until needed. 

  1. Once cream is cooled,  using a small tooth pick poke a small hole onto the creampuff, and wiggle it around to make room for the pastry cream. Pipe cream puffs into cooled cream puff shells using a small piping tip and piping bag. Pipe the cream until it just feels stuck, or until the cream puff feels full. 

NOTE  (I froze the cream puffs with the filling, tightly wrapped onto a half sheet tray overnight in the freezer due to its being Thanksgiving the next day and did not have enough time and did the next caramel step the next morning.) 

  1. Have an ice bath water ready (A large bowl with ice and water) In a pot on low heat together 2 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 2/3 cups of water until it dissolves and has a light brown color. (leave this completely alone until it changes color) Place the pot onto the ice bath water to stop the cooking. 
  2. Wear double layers of gloves and have plenty laying around handy to prevent burning yourself with the hot caramel. 
  3. You could either have a cone made for Cromquembouche or make your own out of poster board, tape, and parchment paper, or not use a cone at all. Dip the cream puffs onto caramel and place them into a circle around the cone, using the caramel to glue them together. Continue arranging the caramel on top of the bottom cream puffs until you've reached halfway. 
  4. Once it reaches half way wait 10 minutes for it to become stable enough to either remove the cone from the bottom very gently or leave the cone in there. Continue adding cream puffs until you've reached the top. Be very generous with caramel while you're doing this, getting the caramel on the bottom and the sides. You can go over with more caramel on loose spots, but it would be very difficult once its already attached. 
  5. Get a half sheet tray, get two chopsticks and place it onto the tray propping it up on the edge. Make sure the caramel is a little on the tacky thick side, but loose enough to flick. You can reheat the caramel anytime if necessary. I had to reheat the caramel and wait for it to thicken enough to make strings. Using two forks, dip it into the caramel and flick it across the chopsticks repeatedly until it forms enough caramel strings to pick up, and place it onto the creampuff. Wrap the strings around, and keep making more strings and adding more until desired.
  6. You must serve the Cromquembouche right away because the creampuffs will become soggy after a couple of hours.



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