Croquembouche is a traditional French dessert made of pâte à choux pastry balls stacked high and covered in spun sugar. Here in the South, we replace the spun sugar with powdered sugar and simply call this delicacy a Cream Puff Tree. A Cream Puff Tree is as tasty as it is pretty, but don’t let the complicated look deceive you. Instead, let Loveless Event Catering Chef Scott Peck demystify this delightful dessert with his easy-to-follow recipe!
Pastry Dough (Pâte À Choux)
Servings: Yields 80 - 90 cream puffs
Preheat your oven to 400°F. (we use a convection oven. If using a conventional oven add about 3 minutes to your cooking times).
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper; set aside.
Heat water, butter, salt and sugar in a medium pot until boiling.
Add in all the flour at once and mix until there are no lumps of raw flour left.
Then add the dough to your electric mixer using the paddle attachment, and mix for one minute or just until the steam has left the dough.
Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Using a half ounce scoop, scoop the dough one inch apart on the prepared sheet pans.
Bake for five to six minutes until brown all over.
Remove the puffs from your oven and immediately turn oven down to 300* F.
At this time poke a hole in the bottom of each puff and put them back in the oven for five to eight minutes or until dry inside and out.
Once your puffs have cooled you can use a ziplock bag with a small cut in the corner and pipe in your filling of choice.
We use homemade pastry cream (vanilla pudding)
Cream Puff Construction
Once your puffs are filled with your favorite filling; set them in the refrigerator until ready to construct your tree.
Attach a foam cone to a cardboard cake round with glue or tape and wrap the cone with plastic wrap so that the puffs don,t touch the foam.
Push a toothpick into the the cone and into each puff to help hold it all together.
We suggest using a firm cream cheese frosting as “glue” between each puff and to fill in any holes in the structure.
Now for the fun part:
You can decorate your Cream Puff Tree anyway you like!
We mixed green food coloring into the cream cheese frosting to create leaves and red hard candy for berries.
Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the tree for a “snow” look.
For the base of the Cream Puff Tree, we used candied pecans but you can use anything from your leftover puffs to actual garland.
Voila! Prepare to amaze the guests at your next party!