My birthday is this Saturday. To celebrate, I’ve come up with some fun ideas for you!
I love all things French and Parisian. My husband and I took a trip to Paris a couple years ago, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Unfortunately, I don’t have any immediate plans to return ( a girl can dream though), so I decided to bring a little France to my home and created a French birthday theme.
Today, I’m sharing an easy croquembouche recipe, plus some easy French themed food ideas. Make sure to check out my French themed decorating ideas and party printables, too!
I’ve wanted to create a croquembouche for years now. If you’ve never seen or had one before, it’s basically a caramel covered tower of cream puffs (croquembouche is French for “crunch in the mouth”). Sounds pretty good right?
Well, it turns out that it’s not so hard! I found recipes for the cream puffs and custard filling in an old family cookbook. Each of these components was simple to make, and if you take your time, you’ll end up with an impressive dessert.
Here are a few tips for success:
- Read through and familiarize yourself with the directions before starting.
- Work on one component at a time.
- Watch the caramel carefully. It goes from pale white to dark amber quickly, and it will continue to cook even after you turn off the heat. Mine got a little too dark.
- Be careful around the caramel. It is extremely hot! Avoid touching it directly and clear any young kids out of the kitchen before you start.
- As the caramel cools, it hardens and turn crunchy, and it’s basically the glue that holds your croquembouche together. Avoid covering the cream puffs with too much caramel or you won’t be able to get the puffs apart when you want to eat them.
Are you ready to get started? This easy croquembouche recipe is sure wow your friends and family, so have fun with it!
- 3 eggs yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. corn starch
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 cups water
- 11 tbsp. butter
- 2 cups sifted flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- Whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well mixed and pale yellow in color.
- Blend in salt and cornstarch.
- Slowly whisk in milk until well combined.
- Transfer mixture to a medium sauce pan.
- Whisking constantly, bring mixture to a boil. The custard should be thick and creamy.
- Remove from heat, then whisk in vanilla and butter one tablespoon at a time.
- Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Combine water and butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat.
- Cook until butter is melted and then stir in sifted flour and salt.
- Stirring constantly, cook mixture until it pulls away from the side of the pan in one mass.
- Remove from heat.
- Stir eggs into mixture one at a time, mixing vigorously after each addition.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place a heaping tablespoon of dough in your palm and form it into a round. Place on baking sheet.
- Repeat with remaining dough. You should have about 40 puffs.
- Bake cream puffs for about 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire wrack.
- Transfer cooled custard to a pastry bag fitted with a pastry tip.
- Push pastry tip into a cream puff and fill with custard.
- Repeat with remaining cream puffs.
- Set aside while making caramel.
- Combine sugar and water in a skillet with a lid.
- Cover and place over medium heat.
- Cook for about 10-15 minutes, watching closely (no need to stir), or until caramel turns a medium amber color.
- Turn off heat and use immediately.
- Assemble croquembouche:
- Using tongs, dip the bottom of a filled cream puff into the caramel, then place it on a plate or platter (caramel side down - I did mine wrong ... oops!).
- Repeat with remaining cream puffs, forming puffs into a circle. Once the initial round is completed, add a smaller round of puffs on top of it, creating a pyramid. Gently reheat the caramel, if needed.
- When all the puffs are added, hold two forks together and dip in caramel.
- Wave the forks around the puffs to create the decorative spun sugar layer.
- Serve croquembouche immediately or within a few hours so the cream puffs do not get soggy. Enjoy!
Of course, no French themed party would be complete without macarons, right? For my lemon macarons, I used my favorite Martha Stewart recipe and added a little yellow food coloring to the egg whites. Then I filled the macarons with The Kitchen Magpie’s lemon buttercream. (FYI … I halved the buttercream recipe and still had leftovers.)
Need help creating a cheese plate? Check out my tips for creating the perfect cheese tray!
- 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed
- 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced or crushed
- salt and pepper
- parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook for 1 minute or until bright green. Drain asparagus and rinse with cold water until cool. Blot dry and cut into 2 inch pieces.
Unroll one sheet of puffed pastry and cut into 3-inch squares. Using a sharp knife, cut a 1/2 inch border around each square (do not cut all the way through). Transfer squares to the baking sheet. Repeat with the second sheet of puffed pastry.
Combine olive oil and garlic in a small dish. Add salt and pepper to taste. Brush over puff pastry squares, then top with asparagus. Brush asparagus with additional oil.
Sprinkle tarts with parmesan cheese, then bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Rotate pan halfway through. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Now that you have some easy food ideas, make sure to check out my French Themed Party Decorations and Printables, too!