Foie Gras Chantilly Croquembouche with Maple Balsamic Sauce
Never one to jump on the latest baking trend, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself unable to shake the concept of engineering a croquembouche. Let’s start by answering the question, what is a croquembouche. It’s essentially a tower of profiteroles glued together with caramel, often drizzled in chocolate, spun sugar, or all manner of fancy schmancy décor. Not my type of thing. I like contemporary solid lines, bold colors, no frills. So why can’t I get the damn thing out of my head? I’ve been making pate au choux with which to turn into profiteroles all summer, so I suppose architecting the croquembouche was the next inevitable step. The problem is that I didn’t fully execute my vision since I only baked a measly 21 pate au choux, and what kind of tower can you really construct with only 21 building blocks? So what that means is that this project is incomplete and must be revisited soon, at a time when I can whip up at least twice that many and construct my dream Barbie mansion from tiny pastry balls.
Knowing myself and my proclivity to take a perfectly good, classic thing and turn it all akimbo, I figured a classic croquembouche just wouldn’t do. This is when I remembered seeing a method for turning foie gras into Chantilly crème recently. Why not do semi-savory choux and fill them with goosey-oozy liver-y goodness then drizzle the whole thing in maple-balsamic reduction made to look like chocolate syrup? Yes, genius. Pure, diabolical, evil genius. I considered not telling my lucky-number-13 guests that they would in fact be masticating goose livers rather than benign cream, but a vegetarian in our midst guilted me into full-disclosure. I needn’t have bothered warning people, it seems. They well and truly were little bites of The Rapture. People popped them like it was 1974 and they were disco queens slamming back ‘ludes, so I’m pretty sure they needed no introduction after all.
To put the whole thing together I started with a good, sturdy batch of pate au choux. Whilst my piped lovelies were puffing up in the oven, I contemplated the Foie Chantilly. I did a bunch of internet research on how to fluff up the foie, and settled on mixing it with heated cream in a food processor for a few moments to sufficiently blend it. Then I passed it through a sieve into a mixing bowl over ice and proceeded to hand whisk it to stiff peaks. In terms of quantity, for five ounces of foie, I used ¾ c heavy cream, a pinch of salt, and two tablespoons of superfine or caster sugar. I heated the cream, sugar, and salt together in a heavy saucepan whilst I chopped the foie into ½” cubes and set reserved them in the food processor. Working quickly, once the cream was just nearing the boiling point, I added it to the foie and whirred it for ten seconds. I immediately passed it through the sieve and into the waiting chilled mixing bowl. It’s important to get it cool quickly so that it will whip properly. I bet a pacojet would have been a really cool toy to employ for the whipping process, but I’ve got an official moratorium on kitchen gadgets here in the Salty Seattle household thanks to my evil husbandJ Once I whipped and chilled my cream and the pate au choux were cool, I piped each pastry full of a sufficient amount of choux using a star tip. At this point I had savory profiteroles awaiting their drizzled fate.
For the sauce, I simply reduced equal parts balsamic and maple syrup in a small saucepan until it reached the consistency of thick molasses. I then cooled it and dipped the butt ends of the profiteroles in the syrup to use as a binding agent. I stacked a meager tower, though mark my words, this is only the beginning. My experimenting is far from finito. In the meantime, enjoy this mini-tower knowing that I’ve created a monster in myself and I likely won’t stop until I construct a croquembouche the size of Frankenstein. And they make a movie about it.