Monday, November 30, 2015

Gluten-free Croquembouche

I live in the Pacific Northwest, an area known for it’s rain.

Cloudy, drizzly, dripping rain.

The kind of place where toadstools sprout, moss grows lush and the forests grow thick.

Look at what happens to a peppermint stick left to solidify in a marshmallow, overnight.

This is not a conducive place to make caramelized sugar.
So Why, when invited to a friend’s for Christmas and asked to bring a gluten free sweet did I want to make one of these?

Because a croquembouche has been on my list of someday/maybe creations for at least a decade.

You do have one of those, don’t you?

Those recipes that capture your imagination, beautiful, sometimes complicated recipes that evoke a mood or place.

A friend actually has a page on his blog of unfinished business, I might have to put together sometime in 2015.

Well, this recipe has always daunted me, even before the additional environmental challenges of our current home.

See there are 3 recipes included within the one finished product.

The cream puffs,

The pastry cream


The caramel.

Then you need to put them all together, using the boiling caramel like glue to create the graceful tree like form.

Boiling Caramel.

The doctor in me worried quite a bit about using boiling sugar around young children. My girls tend to congregate in the kitchen whenever I’m experimenting. And they HAVE to help.

So you can begin to see just why this dessert has waited so long to manifest but now that the girls are teenagers, I know they understand about caution in the kitchen.

The other reason this dessert has waited is one of practicality.

You need a fairly large group to finish this in one sitting, filled cream puffs wait for no one.

So when our friend invited us to her Christmas celebration saying, ” there will be about 15 or so” , I thought,  It’s Time!

Time to figure out how to make the cream puffs crispy and full,

Time to make sure that the pastry cream was smooth, eggy and gently sweet.

Time to get over my concerns that boiling sugar and children don’t mix.

Gluten-free Croquembouche
Homemade marshmallows with peppermint stick handles -

As you can see, it came out beautifully.
All except the spun sugar twirl up the sides. That just stuck together.
But most of all I realized, this isn’t that hard.

Just stick a fork in the bottom of the puffs to dip the tips in the caramel and then be very, very careful as you dip the bottoms.

So much fun, and completely gone once it was unveiled at the party. And none of the gluten lovers in the crowd realized that it was gluten free.


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