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Pastry trees after the holidays!

What’s even better than a Christmas tree at the holidays?

A French pastry tree, of course! The traditional French croquembouche (“crunch in the mouth”) is a classic dessert of choux pastry balls piled in a cone shape and drizzled with caramel. It’s traditionally served at weddings, but it’s perfect for serving on any special occasion.

The easiest way to make a croquembouche is to go to Maison Parisienne and buy several dozen choux pastries to assemble yourself. Or, if you want the full experience, you can make choux pastry yourself. It’s a delicate operation, so you may want to make a few practice tries before you serve it to company. Don’t worry, you can eat the mistakes.

As we know, choux pastry itself is not sweet, but is a rich combination of flour, butter and eggs. The sweetness comes from the cream filling, which can range from simple vanilla or chocolate to more exotic flavors like coffee, caramel, lemon, hazelnut, pistachio, or whatever else you love. Making cream custard with just the right consistency, texture and flavor is something that takes practice, but believe us, it’s worth it.

The truly tricky part is assembling the croquembouche. Often pastry chefs use a cone made of Styrofoam or parchment paper as a base for stacking the pastries, although what really holds them together is their crunchy caramel topping. Each pastry is dipped in warm caramel and carefully placed onto the tower. The result is worthy of being the centerpiece at any festive occasion… but not for long. Be sure to take a photo of your beautiful creation before it disappears.

Copyright: Angelina Earley