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.