Wow, what a day! Not only did a Top Chef contestant give me a tour of his bakery, but in class, we got to make a croquembouche!
My day started off in the afternoon, when a group of my classmates went to the Baked Bakery in Brooklyn, where we were given a tour by Eric, from Top Chef: Just Desserts. It was really fun and interesting. He talked to us a little bit about what it is like to run a bakery, gave us a tour of the shop and the kitchens, and we even got a tasting of some of their products! My favorite, I think, was either the pumpkin whoopee pie with cream cheese filling or the chocolate peanut butter rice krispie square, but really, everything we tried was delicious.
After that, we went to class where we began our final day of pâte à choux by making our croquembouches. A croquembouche is a huge cone of cream puffs and other decorations, held together by caramel, and traditionally served at French weddings. I guess they don’t do wedding cakes; they do croquembouches, and while many of them do have a bit of a rustic look about them, some of them can be gorgeous, ornate masterpieces. Go ahead, Google it.
We spent most of our class on this project, making the choux paste, piping the choux balls, piping decorations, and making caramel to hold it all together. I think mine came out pretty well. It’s leaning a bit, yes, but I do like the look of it. I dipped mine in pistachio and coconut, and I tried to alternate them with plain ones, but it got very difficult to keep the pattern going throughout! No wonder these things can cost thousands of dollars…they’re surprisingly complicated! Anyway, I tried to give mine a Thanksgiving theme, and my pumpkin turned out pretty well. Sadly, my hand turkey didn’t fare so well and shattered when I picked it up. Sadness.
Anyway, here’s my croquembouche!
Well, that concludes unit two of my pastry course. I have to say I’m pretty happy to be over with it; I’m not really a huge fan of the stuff. On the other hand, however, it's kind of amazing to me to see how far I've already come in just one month; I can already see progress, and I'm still kind of amazed at the skills I've learned.