week #20 choux choux

Choux pastry. I’m not that keen on cream cakes, hence previously avoiding the weird mysteries of a pastry made in a saucepan, but custard fillings are another matter entirely so it went on the list. Never made it before and it seems I may have met my 50 challenge nemesis. But challenges are not challenges if they are easy, so after disaster #1 I moved on and created choux #2.

A simple choux pastry however does not constitute a full challenge in my book so the goal was to create a croquembouche which consists of “a towering cone of vanilla pastry cream and caramel-dipped profiteroles, held together with dripping caramel” and a “soaring pastry confection known as a croquembouche often served at weddings”. If you are very lucky it can also involve chocolate sauce.

Despite realising that I was cooking the eggs as I added them to the too hot mixture (this is what is called a learning experience and its important for personal growth) I continued with my plan to make a croquembouche. I squeezed at least 3 ml of custard into each of my runty pastry efforts and then stuck them together with caramel. This photo is very close up to try to make it look bigger than it really was. “Towering” would not be a description you would apply to this one.

The next fail came in the form of the chocolate sauce which I optimistically thought could be the salvation of this ruined effort, but it remained resolutely runny. My daughter asked me if I had put soy sauce over it.

I think its important to focus on the positives and to acknowledge that a pastry challenge fail is so much better than an axe throwing challenge fail (see week #2).

I can’t walk away with a challenge fail though, so here was choux #2. For those interested in the details I waited more like 15 minutes for the initial mix to cool before adding the egg. This recipe used the whole egg and not just yolks, plus the flour was actually strong bread flour. Anyway, it worked beautifully right up to the moment when I took them out of the oven and they deflated faster than a balloon meeting a drawing pin. Pumped full of custard and with the chocolate icing I may have created something edible, possibly even nice…

Would I do this again? Well, possibly not. I live close to an excellent bakery and I might leave this kind of thing to them in future. Come to think of it the other thing I have done that I would assess as a fail also involved pastry, the polish Pierogi Ruskie I made in week #15, so perhaps I’m learning that pastry may not be my thing!

It was at least a low cost challenge. Although would have been more cost effective if actually edible in the case of the first attempt. It has however caused me (and others) quite a bit of amusement so not altogether a write off.

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