For the challenge, we had to make the pastry cream, pate a choux, and use a glaze to mount the puffs into a structure. I chose to make classic Vanilla Bean pastry cream, and mounted the puffs freestanding with melted chocolate.
I made the pastry cream a day ahead and let it set in the refrigerator overnight.
The pate a choux is made by first boiling water, butter, salt and sugar together. Then you dump in flour and stir really hard. What I found difficult was adding the eggs. The recipe called for 4 eggs, adding one at a time. It was a hassle to incorporate the egg easily, taking some extra time. When I made gougeres, I added the egg in the food processor, and I think that would have been a better method.
Once the puffs were baked and out of the oven, I let them cool completely. When I was ready to fill the puffs, I fitted a pastry bag with a small sharp tip and filled with pastry cream. With the sharp tip, I puncture the bottom with the tip, and fill with pastry cream. Once I started to fill the puffs, I got a good feeling for what was overfull and what was just right.
After the puffs were filled and ready to be assembled into the little tower, I melted 8 oz of chocolate, to be used as the glue for my tower.
Dipping the filled puffs in the melted chocolate, I started placing the puffs very carefully onto a small plate. A couple times I had to chill the croquembouche in the fridge to make sure it was firm and wouldn’t turn into a catastrophe on me.
Once the piece was put together, I drizzled more chocolate on, and called it a masterpiece!