27 May 2010

It Had to Be You : A Daring Baker's Challenge


I've been a Daring Baker for a little over a year now, and what fun it has been! Cheesecake, gingerbread houses, tiramisu, Bakewell Tart and macarons -- these are some of the challenges I have participated in. Over the Christmas break I got to thinking about hosting a DB challenge. There was a dessert recipe that I have always, always wanted to make yet never a good reason to do so. So I wrote Lis & Ivonne, the DB founders, volunteering my idea and when they wrote back asking if I wanted to host in May, I took it as a good sign. For the dessert I was thinking of had been served at my wedding and my wedding anniversary happens to be in May.

About 15 years ago, I saw a Martha Stewart show in which she made the traditional French puff pastry dessert, a Piece Montée, which means literally “mounted piece.” You may know this dessert by another name – Croquembouche (“crunch in the mouth”).The classic piece montée is a high pyramid/cone made of profiteroles (cream-filled puff pastries) sometimes dipped in chocolate, bound with caramel, and usually decorated with threads of caramel, sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons. It is often served at weddings, baptisms and other special events here in France.

Here are the obligatory blog checking lines: The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.



The piece montée is made from 3 essential elements : pate a choux (the puff pastry) which was the mandatory recipe for this challenge, crème patissiere which is used to fill the puff pastry (though DBs were able to express their creativity on this element and use whatever filling, savory or sweet, they so chose) and a caramel or chocolate glaze which acts as the glue to hold the whole thing together.

I ended up baking the challenge recipe twice -- the 1st time was to test the recipes which I hadn't used in about 10 years since my days at Peter Kump's before posting the challenge to the DB website. I made a standard chocolate crème patissiere and chocolate glaze. The second time around, I created a piece montée to celebrate our 9-year wedding anniversary. I was inspired by another DB, Jessica at Delicious Things, to color my pate a choux before baking. In this case, red, which is one of my favorite colors and symbolic of love, passion and all that jazz! I filled my pate a choux with a raspberry crème patissiere and then decorated it with fondant stars, a chocolate Eiffel Tower and threads of spun sugar. It wasn't as visually stunning as our wedding "cake" 9 years ago (pictured below), but we enjoyed it nonetheless!



You can check out more of the Daring Bakers' May Challenge : piece montée creations by clicking on the blogroll here. Thanks to Lis & Ivonne for indulging this long-standing, burning desire of mine to make a piece montée and thanks to all the DBs for playing along - your creations are always such an inspiration! Hope you enjoyed this challenge as much as I did.

xx Cat

47 comments:

  1. Thanks for being our host Cat - I enjoyed making and eating my piece montee!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cat, thank you so much for this wonderful challenge. I love the idea of the raspberry creme. Happy 9 year anniversary!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for this amazing challenge!!! :D

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow! Yours is wonderful!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am glad you choosed this one, otherwise i would have never dared to make them. So thankyou for the amazing choice.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This has been a fantastic challenge,thanks Cat :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Cat for this amazing challenge! My first Croquembouche and will be something that is on my favorite baking list!

    Everything has been wonderful :-)Hope to see you hosting the event again!

    Sawadee from Bangkok,
    Kris

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thankyou for a wonderful challenge LMC! I have made choux before but not in a tower form so it was challenging yet allowed us to be creative too! :D

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the great challenge! I had fun with it too!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for such an amazing challenge! Yours looks lovely.

    Also, I'm sad to hear about all the trouble you've having with your name - it sounds awful.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I loved this challenge! Thanks so much! Yours came out gorgeous as well. I love the Eiffel Tower. Glad you liked my colored choux idea!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for hosting this beautiful challenge Cat. I ENJOYED it through and through, and the end result was divine!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for the great challenge. This was the first time I made this pate a choux recipe since my Peter Kumps days, too (2001). Now, I think I will make it more often!
    Your croquembouche is stunning.
    And, I am so sorry to hear about all the troubles you have been having with your name. Wishing you success, and soon, in resolving all of that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you SO much for hosting this challenge...I had a ton of fun, although I am still waiting for my finger to heal...LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for a great challenge!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who participated in this month's challenge! I am so glad that so many people enjoyed doing it and I have loved seeing so many beautiful piece montee popping up all over the net. I am trying to visit as many of your blogs as possible - though a daring task given the number of Daring Bakers!

    Thanks for taking the time to stop by here and leaving me a comment. Yours in burnt finger love (sorry so many of us got injured on this one!).

    xxx Cat

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks, Cat! This was an excellent challenge. I know I will be making the profiteroles again and again. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I just loved this challenge. It was so much fun! Your croquembouche looks gorgeous too. The Eiffel Tower and stars are so cute.

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Your croquembouche is lovely! Thanks for a fun challenge! I learned some new techniques, and the result was delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you so much, Cat, for the challenge. I would not have tried without your prompt. I had fun and was pleased with the result. I didn't burn my fingers, either.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I had a blast with this challenge. Thank you for picking it! The burnt fingers were worth it. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Congratulations on hosting the challenge Cat! I know it is an amazing honour :) I absolutely loved it!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you so much for an amazing challenge, one of my favourites to date. Love your little Eiffel towers :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks for the challenge - it was great! I love your chocolate Eiffel Tower. I'm keen to use our newly gained techniques to make some eclairs or a savoury version now...

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you for this wonderful challenge! I really enjoyed it, and will be making piece montees again and again!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Absolutely beautiful! Thanks so much for hosting this month and choosing such a great recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks for a great challenge. It was a lot of fun.

    ReplyDelete
  28. What a fantastic challenge, Cat! I've made pate a choux, pastry cream, and chocolate glaze before, although never together in a croquembuche. Thanks for making this happen!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Cat, Thank you so much for hosting such a wonderful challenge! I enjoyed it! Your own piece montee is fabulous!

    I'm so sorry to read about your troubles with someone infringing upon your business name. Perhaps legally(technically) they have a case, but ethically they are so wrong! I hope it all works out for the best! In the end your cupcakes will speak for themselves:)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks for the challenge! I had such a blast with mine, even though it turned out a wee bit lopsided. LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks for the incredible challenge! I loved it and learned a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for the fantastic challenge!!! I love croquembouche - it must be one of my favourite desserts. Your caramel strands look delicate and very pretty. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Can't thank you enough for this challenge! I enjoyed every minute of it, learned a great lot of things and found out that playing with caramel is the most amazing thing ever! And best of all, in the end you eat it and it's like a piece o heaven!
    Your Croquembouche is so lovely with the mini tower for the decoration and the stunning color... love it!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hi dear Cat!
    Thank you for this gorgeous challenge!
    Until today that was the most exciting challenge which I took part...so a big kiss to you and thank you for this beautiful idea!
    Ago :-*

    ReplyDelete
  35. thank you so much for such an awesome challenge!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks for hosting a great challenge, Cat! I often make cream puffs but have only ever assembled a croquembouche once so this was the push I needed. It was so much fun! I love spun sugar!!!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Cat, this is only my second DB challenge, and I loved it so much. It was so much fun to make the cream puffs, which has been on a to-do list of mine FOREVER. Your recipes were exact and excellent! Thanks so much for the FABULOUS choice. You rock!

    ReplyDelete
  38. I did have fun with this challenge! And your's came out fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Fantastic challenge, Cat! (and great with coffee for breakfast... not that I would know)

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Great challenge -- loved making the recipe and it was delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you for hosting a great challenge. I have always wanted to do this- here was my opportunity.

    I love the Eiffel Tower on your piece de montee.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks for an awesome Challenge!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thank you so much for such a fun and daring challenge! I hadn't made a croquembouche in years so it was great to get back in the swing of famiiarizing myself with one again. Now I want to make one for everyone's birthday LOL Your croquembouche turned out beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Thanks for the great choice for the challenge this month! It was so much fun

    ReplyDelete
  45. Hi cat thanks for the challenge!!, my kids loved it I haven't posted it in the Daring bakers page still, will update it tomorrow just now I posted my Piece Montee!!, thanks once again dear, a lovely delicious challenge!!, I am happy I made it Better late than never!!!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Loved the challenge. Tastes delicious!

    ReplyDelete