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Daring Bakers May – Pièce Montée

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.

As soon as I saw this recipe, I had three thoughts:

1. I SO do not need a whole croquembouche hanging around the house;

2. YIKES – that’s scary and

3. Oooh – pâte à choux? I can make these:

Yes my friends, that is what is known as a profiterole énorme and you can find it at Café de la Musique (Paris) – where I met Véronique from French Cooking for Dummies in December.  The above photo was taken in the summer of 2006 when I was back there studying for my MA and my very good friend Liz came over to visit at the end of the course when Neil was visiting too.  We had been out the night before (which may or may not have involved a visit to le Caveau de la Huchette where we sat and watched talented French people dance “le swing” and were forced relegated to sitting back with a drink and lament our lack of dance floor prowess!) and earlier in the day had taken a barge ride along the Canal St Martin, ending up at the Cité de la Musique.  We were in need of some sustenance and as soon as we saw the words “Profiterole énorme” on the menu, we knew we had to order that. It was not what I would call énorme but by  French standards, it was!  In any case, it was gobbled up very quickly and I have dreamt about it ever since.

I had a fear of the pâte à choux but it was actually pretty easy – I had one out of two trays come out pretty well (note to self – do not put in more than one tray at once next time):

Even the insides of the failed ones were hollow as they were supposed to be and they tasted right!

Filling the successfully puffed puffs with ice-cream proved to be very challenging and I was happy I only made a half batch!

And there you have it – chic Paris café fare chez vous!!!

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Pâte à Choux

Ingredients:
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:

Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.  Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Piping:

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Baking:

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

And because I felt guilty I wasn’t doing the whole croquembouche thing, I *did* make a mini pièce montée:

Which I was pretty happy with. I liked how the choux pastry tasted, they actually didn’t look too shabby and I would totally feel comfortable trying my hand at something a bit more complicated when time permits.  Which is what Daring Bakers is all about, right?

And since we’re speaking of Paris and food, did you check out my latest article for Food Network Canada all about the fabulous cooking workshops at Art Home Paris?

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93 Responses to Daring Bakers May – Pièce Montée

  1. penny aka jeroxie May 27, 2010 at 05:24 #

    Looks like sweet hamburgers stacked on!

  2. Juls @ Juls' Kitchen May 27, 2010 at 05:24 #

    Your mini piece montée is cutie and yummy! I could eat tons of choux! Hugs

  3. mademoiselle délicieuse May 27, 2010 at 05:53 #

    Ooohhh, a very elegant version of an ice-cream sandwich!

  4. Ellie May 27, 2010 at 06:02 #

    Very nicely done, Mardi! Love them :)

  5. Nat May 27, 2010 at 06:12 #

    Puff ice cream and chocolate… delicious idea! Nice job and nice blog you have!!

  6. Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops) May 27, 2010 at 06:30 #

    It ‘s perfect ! !
    Good idea on the “mini” versions !!!

  7. Jenn May 27, 2010 at 06:44 #

    omg ice cream in cream puffs, perfect!!! Love it, and love your mini pièce montée too :)

  8. Swee San May 27, 2010 at 07:20 #

    wow, with ice cream!! Looks gorgeous Mardi :)

  9. Belinda @zomppa May 27, 2010 at 07:24 #

    Oh my! You nailed this challenge!

  10. Suzie the Foodie May 27, 2010 at 08:16 #

    Well aren’t those beautiful?!!! Absolutely stunning and bravo. Funny, I did make the coffee ice cream with the intention of filling profiteroles with them, great minds… great minds my friend…

  11. A Canadian Foodie May 27, 2010 at 08:40 #

    A beautiful post of memories past. Your perseverance and will is always impressive. I have not mastered the ability to bake with any of these clubs yet as I am too often daunted with my own life, and my own lists. I need to do this to challenge myself a bit more. A great idea, and I am sure Mr. Neil was thrilled with your beautiful treats.
    :)
    Valeire

  12. Julie M. May 27, 2010 at 09:09 #

    Mmmmm. I love profiteroles with ice cream! Nice stacking, I think that qualifies. thanks for sharing.

  13. dancingwithfood May 27, 2010 at 09:25 #

    Love your interpretation of the challenge! Looks incredibly delicious.

  14. deeba May 27, 2010 at 09:55 #

    Love what you did with the challenge Mardi… nice pictures too.

  15. Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz May 27, 2010 at 10:11 #

    Mardi, love your profitéroles. I prefer these anyways to a Croque en Bouche. They look awesome, the last pic almost looks like macarons lol

  16. Paula - bell'alimento May 27, 2010 at 10:31 #

    Oh my gosh what a great idea! Love love love it! I so didn’t need a whole croquembouche around my house either… I am so weak LOL

  17. Andrea@High/Low May 27, 2010 at 10:32 #

    Forget Chikalicious! I’ll just pop over to your house! =) I’m going to have such a craving after seeing everyone’s Daring Bakers posts!!

  18. Kenzie (Healthy Purpose) May 27, 2010 at 10:59 #

    those look absolutely divine! thanks for sharing!

  19. The Cilantropist May 27, 2010 at 11:16 #

    This looks sooooo yummy! If I saw THIS in a Paris cafe I would definitely order it. ;) Great work!

  20. jenjenk May 27, 2010 at 11:44 #

    Mardi – yours looks GREAT! Feeling much envy for your hollowed puffs. What filling did you use on the very top photo? It’s making me quite hungry…

  21. Daniel@Cocina Savant May 27, 2010 at 12:05 #

    You have definitely outdone yourself with these airy choux pastries. I was looking at a recipe this morning for these thinking they would never turn out as well as yours if I attempted them. Nicely done.

  22. Daydreamer Desserts May 27, 2010 at 12:29 #

    Loved your mini pièce montée, especially since it was filled with my favorite thing in the whole wide world! Well done Mardi! :)

  23. Kim May 27, 2010 at 13:09 #

    Love your take on the challenge! Your pastries look delicious!

  24. Suzan May 27, 2010 at 13:52 #

    I was just thinking of making these, now it’ a must!

  25. Lauren @ Healthy Delicious May 27, 2010 at 14:07 #

    Nice job, Mardi! I love how you filled these with ice cream – good call! I’ll admit, the whole piece monte thing has me freaked out (and I certainly didn’t need that around the house!) so I skipped this month.

  26. The Housewife May 27, 2010 at 15:56 #

    These cream puffs look like perfection especially with that cup of coffee beside them!

  27. outoftheoven May 27, 2010 at 16:49 #

    That ice cream filling looks SO delicious! Great job on the challenge!

  28. bunkycooks May 27, 2010 at 17:24 #

    Nice job! I much prefer ice cream with these over pastry cream. My puffs would not rise and were like golf balls at 4200 feet altitude. I am bummed, but tried twice and gave up. :(

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 29, 2010 at 06:28 #

      If these had not worked out the first time, I prob would have done same. Think it was a big old fluke!

  29. Geoff May 27, 2010 at 18:06 #

    Oh boy, oh boy! Life can be wonderful

  30. Tami May 27, 2010 at 18:28 #

    Looks much yummier than the porridge I’m currently eating for breakfast!!

  31. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best May 27, 2010 at 18:43 #

    Those cream puffs look delicious! I like that you used ice cream instead of whipped cream. Yummy!

  32. Lauren May 27, 2010 at 19:08 #

    Ice Cream!! What a delicious idea :). Your piece montée looks fabulous Mardi!

  33. Maybelle mom May 27, 2010 at 20:03 #

    Hey a single cream puff can be a piece montee given the right attitude . Looks good

  34. Ruth H. May 27, 2010 at 22:25 #

    What a great idea! Ice cream sandwiches for “grown ups!” I don’t think I can let myhusband see this, though, or I might have to make it for him once a week!! Beautiful work on this challenge!

  35. Barbara Bakes May 28, 2010 at 00:10 #

    I love the idea of an ice cream filling and I adore your little mini tower. Well done!

  36. Cherine May 28, 2010 at 03:15 #

    Great job. Ur piece montée looks wonderful :)

  37. Pam M May 28, 2010 at 03:53 #

    Great job Mardi. I have never tried choux pastry. But I am definately
    inspired by your icecream puffs.

  38. Jamie May 28, 2010 at 07:33 #

    Oh, fancy tower who needs it? I’d much rather have one of these babies sitting on my plate! Great job, Mardi, and too yummy!

  39. Cat May 28, 2010 at 09:42 #

    very elegant little ice cream sandwiches! much more practical than the fancy tower, which, although pretty, seems difficult to actually serve and eat. btw, love nick malgieri!

  40. art and lemons May 28, 2010 at 12:19 #

    I can’t think of a better way to celebrate warmer days than with a tower of small ice cream sandwiches dipped in chocolate!

  41. bakingaddict May 28, 2010 at 18:23 #

    What a cute idea! Perfect for summer.

  42. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 28, 2010 at 20:00 #

    I think I had a similar reaction to this month’s challenge! I was super excited and terrified all at the same time… and I definitely didn’t need to eat a whole croquembouche, which is what would happen if I had it around the house! I love the mini version you made… Looks lovely!

  43. Wolf May 31, 2010 at 12:39 #

    What a neat take on the Challenge! Hee!

  44. Renata June 1, 2010 at 09:57 #

    ice cream filling is amazing! Have to try that !

  45. Alta June 1, 2010 at 11:56 #

    Ooh, great alternative idea! I bet these are eat-them-up-quick treats – that ice cream would make the puff pastry soggy quickly. But oh, the deliciousness!

  46. Joy June 2, 2010 at 15:44 #

    Gorgeous and looks absolutely delish! You are brave to put ice cream in it. I would not have dared — ice cream will be happily diverted to my mouth before it reaches the puff. :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 3, 2010 at 06:43 #

      It was actually quite difficult piping the icecream and I was so frustrated when I was done that I didn’t want to see ice cream for a long time!

  47. Charlie June 8, 2010 at 15:50 #

    Just joined Daring Bakers yesterday and while I await the July Challenge, I’ve scoured the blogs looking at everyone’s May results. You are the first who I’ve seen to use ice cream instead of the creme patissiere. Great substitution. However difficult it may have been, they look incredible.

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