Yes, friends. I went there. I wanted to make something unique for this time of year. Something spectacular, if you will. So I turned to the most trusted dessert source I could think of: the French. They love these things called “croquembouche” over there. Essentially, filled cream puffs, dipped in caramel and tacked onto a cone to make the whole thing look like a tower. I, honestly, just really loved the name…and the fact that I would be making cream puffs with a sweet and silky ricotta filling. How could this not be delicious?
Sure, it would be tasty, but why build a tower?. What’s the need for this? What’s the point of going out to an arts supply store and buying a styrofoam cone, just so you can use toothpicks to stick cream puffs onto it? The point, I soon found out, is that you will be a holiday hero for making this! First of all, to be clear, they’re not just cream puffs. They’re cream puffs covered in caramel. Like a ring-spun halo of caramel. Which increases its value ten fold. Second of all, it’s on a cone, people! You end up with this cream-puffy looking tree with caramel dripping and oozing all over it. It really does look kind of spectacular. Are you as excited as I am?!
Just to be sure that I wasn’t truly insane with my awe of this French wonder (though, would anyone care if I was?), I also put out the extra cream puffs that were too big to put on the tree at a recent gathering. They were the same thing, just not stuck onto the cone. Sure, people liked the ones on the plate, but they gravitated towards the croquembouche. “I want to try that,” they would say, even though they would be chomping on the plated cream puff at that very moment. Sheer fascination with the cream puff tree. And who can blame them?! It’s a brilliant idea! The French really do know what they are talking about.
Salty Caramel Croquembouche (original recipe from Fine Cooking magazine)
Because there are many many components to this dessert, and because I did not change a single thing from the original recipe, and perhaps because I’m slightly lazy, I’m linking it here. Also, here is a step by step guide on how to assemble this fabulous fabulous dessert.