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Croquembouche, A French Thanksgiving Dessert

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

If you think Thanksgiving desserts are simply based on pumpkin, then take a look at this French dessert recipe. This classic is perfect to fit your autumn-themed menu, without any pumpkin in sight. Croquembouche is a traditional French cone-shaped tower cake, and it is served for special occasions and for the holidays. The traditional croquembouche recipe is made with vanilla pastry cream and decorated with sugared almonds. Modern croquembouches are made with creative pastry cream flavors and decorated with flowers, sugar art, and even melted chocolate

This traditional French cone-shaped tower cake is the perfect to fit your autumn-themed menu of your thanksgiving dinner or holiday celebration. 🍮 Originally served only on the medieval tables of French royalty and nobility, the cream puffs can be filled with various whipped creams and ganaches.

See the full recipe below and let us know if you will try it.

Let’s get together in the details of this delicious french recipe, or as we call it in English: a “crunch in the mouth”. Originally served only on the medieval tables of French royalty and nobility, it is now traditionally served at French weddings, baptisms, and christenings. The cream puffs can be filled with various whipped creams and ganaches, but this version goes the classic route of vanilla pastry cream.


-for the pate a choux (pastry puffs)

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

-for the pastry cream

1 cup whole milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

1/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

-for the caramel

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup water


1.Start the dessert off by making the pastry cream first. Create the pastry cream by first warming the milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until it’s hot, but not boiling.

2.Meanwhile, whisk the egg, egg yolk, and sugar together until thick and pale. Add the cornstarch and flour, and whisk again to combine. Pour 1/4 cup milk into the egg batter and whisk vigorously to combine.

3.Slowly add the rest of the milk, continuing to whisk the mixture as you do.

4.Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, and continue to heat this mixture over medium-low heat. Whisk the entire time, and after about 5 to 7 minutes, you should see the cream really thicken up into a pudding-like consistency.

5.Take the cream off the heat. Add in the vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream to prevent a filmy layer from forming. Refrigerate the pastry cream until chilled.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

6.To create the pastry puffs, begin by heating the butter, water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted and the mixture has come to a simmer, remove the saucepan from the heat.

7.Add in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Move the saucepan back over to low heat and continue to stir the mixture until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough no longer sticks to the bottom or sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and turn off the stove.

8.Add in the eggs, stirring very well after each addition. You want to make sure each egg is mixed in well before adding another. The finished result should look like a thick paste.

9.Transfer the pastry dough to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip or round tip, and pipe the dough into small 1 inch mounds onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the pastry puffs for 10 minutes at 425°F, then without opening the oven door, lower the heat to 375°F and bake the puffs for another 5 to 8 minutes, until the puffs are completely golden.

10.Turn the oven off and leave the oven door slightly open. Let the puffs rest in the turned off oven for about 10 minutes. Then remove and transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

11.Take a small cake board and line it with parchment paper.

12.Temporarily set aside.

Once the pastry puffs are cooled, fill a pastry bag with the chilled pastry cream. Poke the bottom of each pastry puff with your pastry tip to create a small hole. Insert the pastry cream into the puff through this hole.

13.Create the caramel by adding the sugar and water to a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Let the sugar and water boil until it begins turning a light amber color.

14.Dip the bottoms of the pastry puffs in the caramel, and place the puffs in a circle on the prepared board. Then create another circle of cream puffs on top of this first ring, dipping the cream puffs in caramel first to get them to stick. Continue this until you create a sort of tree-shape or cone-shape with the cream puffs.

15.Refrigerate if serving the cream puffs later, otherwise serve immediately.

Hone your pastry skills with this elegant dessert and wow your guests with this show-stopping dessert at your thanksgiving dinner or your next holiday party!


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