Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Crawfish and Wedding Cakes

Yesterday was a long but fun day.  Pretty much this entire week in pastry, we are working on croquembouches, which are the French version of wedding cakes, since the French can't do anything the same way as everyone else.  Here, pastry chefs create wedding cakes with a nougatine base and a giant pile of profiteroles (choux buns stuffed with pastry cream, sort of like a ball shaped eclair).  The entire thing is put together with caramel as glue, sometimes completely covered in caramel afterwards.  It can be decorated with chocolate, flowers, candied almonds and spun sugar netting.  Instead of a cake-cutting ceremony, couples can crack the caramel with a spoon.  Usually each guest gets about 3 profiteroles and the croquembouches can cost thousands of euros. 
In class yesterday, we all watched chef assemble a HUGE nougatine base.  Ours will be much smaller.  The nougatine is kept in the oven while you work piece by piece, grabbing a chunk as you need it.  You must work the nougatine while the caramel is still burning hot, so I'm sure we will all have severe burns by the end of class today.
In cuisine practical, we made fish quenelles (dumplings) and baked them in a Sauce Nantua, which is made of crawfish.  We didn't get to plate the dishes, but I tried to jazz up my aluminum baking pan as much as I could.

Off to start my croquembouche!

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