There is nothing so flattering as receiving compliments from complete strangers. I made this for my Grandfather’s birthday, and as my sister carried it into the restaurant, people actually stopped and said how fantastic it looked. I have never felt prouder, to be honest 🙂 Technically, it started as a hybrid between a Gâteau St. Honoré and a Croquembouche. My family doesn’t like meringue, however, and we didn’t have puff pastry – nor could I be bothered with all the folds – and I thought a full croquembouche might be a little difficult to fit in the fridge… So, instead of chiboust on top of a puff and choux base, I made a simple chocolate cake, covered it in crumb-coat (creamed butter, sugar, vanilla and a splash of curaçao) and ganache. I then surrounded and topped the cake with profiteroles and covered them with toffee and golden star sprinkles. Eight of the profiteroles were chocolate-coated to represent his eightieth (just use some pure melted chocolate for that). Choux pastry is the pastry used to make profiteroles and éclairs. Personally, I feel choux pastry is the pastry least likely to go wrong. It may not be fancy or pretty on its own, but you can hide it with the topping and it won’t turn horribly chewy like shortcrust if you knead it too much. Strangely, you want to develop gluten. When heating your dough for a second time, look for this texture and the thin film of dough on the bottom of the pan. Start the clock then.
When making the choux, you’ll want your dough to droop a bit if you dip your finger in and hold it up, and not stick out straight like a beak. Do this check before you add all your eggs so you don’t manage to make your dough too wet. If this happens to you, don’t just add flour to dry it out. Cook extra flour and butter in a pan like in the first step of choux-making. Otherwise you won’t have all the lovely gluten to make a puff.
I decided to lighten the sweetness with curaçao splashed into the crumb-coat and pastry cream. It wasn’t obvious, but it added a bit of complexity beyond chocolate+toffee+cream. You’ll want your egg and sugar custard for the pastry cream to flow off in thick ribbons. This is sort-of the process of sugar-melting. I’m sorry for the black pan; it’s non-stick and I forgot about photos when I chose to use it. Don’t take your toffee far beyond light amber because it continues to cook while you dip your profiteroles, and if you have to re-heat the toffee to melt it, you don’t want it to be too dark.
And there you have it! I used pastry cream to fill the profiteroles, and diplomat cream to fill in between the cake and profiteroles.
From Joe Pastry
- 120g (1/2 cup) butter
- 1 cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup plain flour, sifted
- 4 eggs
- Bring water, butter, salt and sugar to a boil.
- Immediately add flour.
- Remove from heat and stir into a paste.
- Bring back to heat, and stir until semi-smooth and blobby, and a thin film of dough forms on the base of the pan.
- Stir for three minutes further.
- Turn out into a bowl to cool.
- Add eggs one at a time, stirring in between, keeping an eye on wetness.
- Use a pastry bag with the collar but no nozzle to pipe the pastry into puddles, (not tall, since you’re stacking them).
- Bake for 10 minutes at 220°C, and then 20 minutes at 190°C.
- Leave to cool overnight in the oven with the door propped open, or in a dry place.
- The next day, fill with pastry cream using a pastry bag or syringe or suitable tool.
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 12 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Curaçao (optional)
- Bring milk and vanilla to a boil, whisking occasionally.
- Whip yolks and sugar to thick ribbons.
- Stir the cornstarch into the yolks.
- Add the milk in a steady stream, stirring constantly.
- Pour back into pan and whisk up to boiling until it has bubbled for a minute.
- Stir in the foam on the surface.
- Pour into a pan or bowl to cool in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Cover with cling-wrap to prevent a skin.
- Cool on the bench for 15 minutes.
- Refrigerate for an hour or more.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- Put sugar and water in a pan, ensuring all sugar is covered by water.
- Heat until light amber.
- Remove from heat or maintain at very, very low heat.
- Take your ganache-coated chocolate cake (or mould), and place on plate or cake-board.
- Carefully dip tops and sides of profiteroles in toffee, and arrange on and around the cake (halfway through, remove mould if using one).
- Use a spoon to spin remaining toffee over the masterpiece artfully 😛
- Sprinkle with sprinkles if desired.
- Fill in the gaps with diplomat cream (1 – 2 parts pastry cream to 1 part whipped cream).
- Sprinkle further.
- Gorge yourself XD