Croque-en-Bouche is basically a towering inferno of caramel and custard-filled choux pastry (yassss!). It’s a French dessert that is typically served at weddings and baptisms. Earlier this year I posted on Facebook about how if someone were to ask my hand in marriage that I would demand they make a croque-en-bouche for the wedding. Unfortunately, I am #foreveralone – not to mention I couldn’t wait that long, so I just went ahead and made it myself! The name roughly translates from French as “crunches in the mouth”. This it does – the caramel is nice and crunchy! A nice balance against the soft custardy pastry.
I will admit that this recipe is fairly involved. If you love to make awesome looking things then this is well worth it. If you are interested solely in just eating it then I would recommend making creme brulee and eating it with pastry. It will taste roughly the same without as much work. Here’s some food porn inspiration and then we’ll get down and dirty with the recipes.
*Many ingredients have their weight listed in grams. This is a much more precise method of measurement. Weigh ingredients using a food scale where applicable (and if possible) for best results. You can buy a decent one on Amazon for $10-$20, it’s a great investment if you like baking.
- Pastry (pâte à choux / profiteroles)
- 1/2 C Milk
- 1/2 C Water
- 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
- 1 t Sugar
- 1/4 t Salt
- 130g (1 Cup) Bread Flour
- 3-5 Large Eggs
- Custard Filling (Vanilla)
- 4 C Whole Milk (see Conversions if you only have skim or something)
- 2 Whole Eggs (100g)
- 4 Egg Yolks (72g)
- 1 C Granuatled Sugar (200g)
- 1/2 C Cornstarch (80g)
- 1 T Vanilla Extract
- 6 T Unsalted Butter (85g, cubed)
- 3 T Water
- 1/4 C Corn Syrup
- 1 C Sugar
Pâte à Choux
- In a large pot combine the milk, water, butter and sugar.
- Bring to a boil (over med-high heat) and then add in all the flour.
- Vigorously stir with a wooden spoon until a firm ball of dough forms. The dough will pull away from the sides and become one big mass. A thin film should begin to form on the bottom of the pan. This means you’re done!
- Mix on low in you mixer with the paddle attachment for several minutes (or do it by hand). You just want to allow excess steam, moisture and heat to dissipate.
- Now add one egg to your batter and continue mixing until the egg fully incorporates and it looks like dough again.
- Repeat this process of adding one egg at a time. It may only take 3 eggs but it might take 5 depending on the ambient humidity and the gluten content of your flour. How do you know when to stop adding eggs? Your batter will be viscous but not runny. It should be somewhere between cake and cookie batter – when you lift up a big glob it should slowly droop off your spatula. You should be able to pipe it out and when you do it should hold its shape.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using a pastry bag, pipe out small, slightly stacked, circles of batter (1 inch apart) onto a Silpat/Parchment Paper lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes (at 400°F). They should be puffed and starting to brown. At this point, turn the baking sheet around so that they brown evenly.
- Turn oven temperature down to 350°F and continue to bake for about another 20 minutes. While they are baking try not open the oven, especially early on or else the steam will escape and your choux pastry will not puff properly (and you won’t be able to fill them). However, if they start browning too much on one side, very quickly switch the baking sheet around. To see if they are done just take one out for sacrifice and eat it (let it cool first). The inside shouldn’t be doughy but the bottoms should still be soft. If they aren’t then it will be very difficult to fill them.
- In your mixing bowl combine the whole eggs, egg yolks, cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Whisk vigorously until there are no more lumps.
- In a large sauce pan combine the milk and remaining sugar. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, slowly pour it into your mixing bowl (with the egg mixture). While you do this be sure to continually whisk. I use my stand mixer (on low) to make it easier. If you pour too fast or don’t whisk then you will probably get scrambled eggs instead of custard.
- Now pour the contents of your mixing bowl bake into your sauce pan.
- Cook and continually stir with a wooden spoon until it begins to get thick like custard and begins to bubble.
- Take it off the heat and stir in your cubed butter and vanilla. Stir until incorporated.
- Immediately transfer to a chilled casserole dish (9×13″) and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until it’s completely cool. Be sure to press the plastic wrap directly onto your custard or else nasty film will form on it (don’t just drape it over the custard).
- Once cool, transfer it to a pastry bag with a small tip.
- Make two small diagonal cuts in the bottoms of your choux pastry with a knife (“X” shape).
- Insert the tip of your pastry bag into the choux pastry and fill it with custard. Repeat for all of them.
- Add the water and corn syrup to a small pot.
- Carefully add the granulated sugar to the middle of the pot. Be careful not to get any sugar on the sides of the pot.
- Gently stir the sugar until it is all wet.
- Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to boil throughout.
- Cover the pot with a lid for 1 minute. This helps any sugar that accidentally got on the side of the pan to dissolve in the steam. Caramel can be finicky! If you aren’t careful it can crystallize and become grainy but with these tips you should be alright.
- Cook for about 10 minutes until you reach 155°C/310°F (just past hard crack stage). The sugar will turn a nice caramel color. You can certainly do this “by eye” but I definitely prefer to use a candy thermometer.
- Take the caramel off the heat. If your caramel gets too hard then just put it over medium heat for a bit.
- Very very carefully dip the bottoms of your choux pastries in caramel and place them around a cone one at a time. I just made one out of cardboard and lined it with parchment paper. Just make sure you have enough pastry for your cone. Guesstimate by placing the first layer and multiply that number by how many pastries high it needs to be and you will have enough with some to snack on after. Tips: I lined my workspace with parchment paper and my plate with aluminum foil to reduce cleanup. Boil water in your pot with your thermometer/forks to help dissolves the caramel when you’re all done.
- After your tower is made then you can decorate it! I used two forks, put caramel on them both and stuck them together. Pull them apart and stretch strings of caramel all around it to make it pretty.
- Let it cool and serve immediately. It’s best to eat immediately. You can refrigerate it for several days though. Just keep in mind that the custard must not be out for more than 2 hours at a time. Also, the starches in the custard will begin to slowly break down, making the pastry more soggy. Not a huge deal, but if you are taking it to a party or something then you might consider this more.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!
Also, please feel free to let me know if there’s an error or if you have questions.
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