Croquembouche (pronounced crow-em-boosh) is a French dessert consisting of profiteroles (small cream puffs) made up of pate a choux (pronounced “pat a shoe”) dough. The cream puffs are mounted onto a cone (either purchased or handmade) using caramel. Croquembouche translates to “crack in the mouth” because the caramel that is used to attach the cream puffs together cracks when you bite into them.
READ ALL OF THE TEXT ON THIS PAGE, PRIOR TO MAKING YOUR GLUTEN FREE CROQUEMBOUCHE.
When to Make a Croquembouche
In Italy and France, a croquembouche is often served at baptisms, first communions, and weddings. In the United States, you will find people like to make a croquembouche during the Christmas holiday because of its tree-like shape. You can make one for Thanksgiving using orange food coloring. It would turn out a rust color when mixed with the chocolate. I find that this gluten free red velvet croquembouche is perfect for Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Then, there are those special occasions for those who just love everything red velvet! Make the vanilla cream puffs and use pastel colored food coloring to make an Easter or Spring croquembouche.
An idea for a large crowd or family
You can create an elegant croquembouche for adults and let the kids make one for themselves.
I don’t consume artificial food coloring. Can I make a croquembouche in another flavor?
I’m allergic to chocolate. Can I use the vanilla cream puffs and add red food coloring?
You may add food coloring to the vanilla cream puffs too.
Can I adjust the amount of food coloring and/or cocoa powder?
Yes. You can adjust the amount of food coloring/ You may also adjust the amount of cocoa powder if making the chocolate or red velvet cream puffs.
How many mini cream puffs will I need to cover my cone?
You will need about 30 – 60 cream puffs depending upon the size you make. If you use a 12×6-inch croquembouche mold, you’ll need about 60 cream puffs, depending upon their size.
What fillings can I use in the cream puffs?
I love to use whipped cream in my croquembouche, but before filling them with the whipped cream, I like to baste the bottom in chocolate ganache or room temperature Hershey’s Hot Fudge Topping.
Of course, you can use the traditional pastry cream. However, I like to add some unflavored gelatine to make it thicker.
Will I really need all of that caramel?
You won’t need the entire recipe of caramel but having a large quantity retains its heat longer, preventing you from constantly having to rewarm it.
How to make a croquembouche mold
See the video at the bottom of the page to watch someone make a vanilla-flavored gluten-filled croquembouche.
Gluten Free Croquembouche
For the Croquembouche:
For the Filling:
For the Caramel:
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
To Make the Cream Puffs:
Follow the instructions at the above-linked recipe for Gluten Free Red Velvet Cream Puffs. Once cool, you can freeze them in freezer storage bags for future use. They only take 5 - 10 minutes to defrost.
To Make the Cone:
View the above video to learn how to make a cone mold for your gluten fere croquembouche. Make it while the cream puffs bake and cool; set aside.
To Make the Filling:
Make your chosen filling and refrigerate to chill. Do not pipe the filling into the cream puffs until just prior to serving. To fill, add the filling to a pastry bag or decorating piping device. Using a long pointy tip, pipe the filling into the bottom of each cream puff.
To Make the Caramel:
(I suggest making half of the caramel recipe at a time. This way, you're not in such as rush to beat the clock on when the caramel begins to crystallize. In addition, how much caramel you need depends on the size of your cone.) To make the caramel, add the sugar, water, and corn syrup to a saucepan*. Draw an "S" in the sugar to allow the water to penetrate. Allow the sugar to dissolve, basting the sides of the pan with water to prevent it from crystallizing. (You can also cover it so that it steams up, which prevents the sugar from crystallizing.) Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until amber in color, 275ºF, about 15 minutes. (Normally, I would say 300ºF to get that perfectly cracked caramel sound and texture when you bite into the cream puffs. However, you'd have to have a few people helping you to add the cream puffs onto the cone because at 300ºF, the caramel sets up quickly, just like peanut brittle. Plus, if you remove it from the stove at 275, it will inevitably rise in temperature just by sitting in the pan on its way to the ice bath.) Immediately transfer the saucepan of caramel into the ice bath to cool some, about 5 - 10 seconds. You just want to prevent the temperature from rising higher.
To Assemble the Croquembouche:
The croquembouche must be assembled no longer than 3 hours prior to serving and should not be refrigerated. Refrigerated cream puffs become soft.
Dip the sides of the cream puffs into the caramel and place them all around the bottom of the cone. (If the caramel begins to thicken too much, just place it back on the stove to heat up a bit until soft again. Do the next layer just above the first, allowing the bottom of the second row to rest on the lower row. Repeat this all the way up the tree.
Next, dip one side, back, or tip of your garnishes such as candy fruit slices and/or candy-coated chocolate candies like M&Ms or sixlets into the caramel and attach to the tree as desired.
Glue the candy fruit slices and candy-coated chocolates or other garnishes to the tree using the caramel.
Traditionally, you would reheat the caramel, if needed, and drizzle strands of from way up high onto a sheet of parchment paper, nice and long. Then take the strands as they begin to set and drape them around the croquembouche, here and there. Don't use too many or it will look like a spider's web. You want it to look like whispers of angel hair. However, you can do all sorts of things. Try basting some caramel on the cream puffs that are on the cone once set and then sprinkle coconut on them before they set. It looks like snow!
*Alternatively, you can use a 12-inch nonstick skillet. I've never had my brittle/bark crystalize on me when I've made in such a skillet.
*Alternatively, you can use a 12-inch nonstick skillet instead of a saucepan. I've never had my brittle/bark crystalize on me when I've made in such a skillet.
**Mars makes no promise that M&Ms are gluten free. Read the Mars Allergen Statement However, they do not contain wheat for certain. Always read ingredient labels.
Use for Leftover Caramel:
You can make chocolate bark or brittle with the leftover caramel. See recipe the recipe for Chocolate Almond Brittle. Try adding a few of tablespoons of butter if you have at least a cup leftover. Stir in some nuts too and transfer the mixture to a baking sheet. Quickly spread out before it sets. After about 3 - 5 minutes, you can sprinkle the top with chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Distribute the chocolate as it melts. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Allow to reach room temperature and slice with a long knife.