The Croquembouche Project

Well this week has been thrilling in the Culinary Arts room, or perhaps it could be called the Croquembouche Factory. Yesterday all but 4 students of a total of 32 have finished their tower of chocolate drenched cream puffs, filled with whipped cream…..with variation on the traditional shape. We had some cream puff bowls filled with whipped cream, some bumps, some logs. The fondant project went from leaves and holly berries to sharks, skate boarding figures, huge roses, the grinch, penguins, bears, soccer balls, doves, and a purple snake.

This is a great project providing practice in very specific recipe following, speed, and creativity. Some parts of the plan I insist they follow, some parts I ask them to imagine their favorite animals, colors, something about their life that they might reveal to the world.

The speed part is always troublesome for me…..we only have 55 minutes each day. One for fondant work, or maybe a bit more the next day when we make the pate choux and squeeze the little puppies out. I usually finish up the baking….and who tell me, who teaches their children to finish dishes and dry them, put them away? None from what I can tell. Sorry guys but you are falling down on some simple skills. And who knows about scrubbing the sink out once in a while so that killer bacteria doesn’t crawl up the sides and attack an unsuspecting teenager in a really bad movie? OK, this is about creativity and the holiday spirit……I enjoy the thought of all these beautiful-in-their-own-way Croquembouches , puffs filled, assembled, decorated on the third day…..going out into the world to parents, if  they get that far, or eaten on the bus on the way home despite the no-eating rules set by the Transportation Manager.

All this from butter, eggs, flour, cream, and some sugar and chocolate. What could possibly be more thrilling than pastry work during the holidays I ask?

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