A croquembouche is a sticky pyramid of choux-paste puffs filled with cream and constructed with caramel. Served at weddings, christenings and other fetes in France, it is currently experiencing a revival here in North America. In my mind, this is the classiest type of wedding cake: dramatic, precarious, and golden-hued. It is a long way from the cloyingly sweet pastel buttercream and rolled fondant cakes usually seen at weddings. The traditional way of serving it is for the bride to take a sword and whack it and for the bridesmaids to catch the pieces in a tablecloth. Nowadays, a waiter is stationed by the croquembouche with a pair of tongs to pluck the puffs from the pyramid and serve them in a decorous manner.
I made my first one without the cream filling so that it could last us through the holiday season as a kitschy centerpiece. The decorations are made from marzipan and are unnecessary, in my opinion. If I were making this for a real wedding, I would use fresh flowers to decorate it and make even more spun sugar to drape around it.
Croquembouches are usually made with 100-500 puffs, although there is no reason why these things need to be made so large. Why not make a mini one for a child’s birthday? Children are drawn to towers of sweets, and if striking the tower with a sword were permitted, it would be a dream come true. Something akin to a pinata, but not something to be done in a carpeted room.