Croquembouche (Daring Bakers May 2010)

May 27, 2010

Croquembouche (Daring Bakers May 2010)

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to do this month’s Daring Baker challenge. Firstly, I’m massively disorganised and scatterbrained resulting in me clawing for kitchen time. And I’ve previously tackled a croquembouche so I wasn’t sure if I’d be in the mood to take on these large towers of profiteroled crazy again. Not to mention, I wasn’t quite mentally ready to risk getting scorched from caramel, seeing as I’m still healing from a rather large arm burn courtesy of my oven tin (damn those loose bottom flan pans!).

Yeah, I’m the queen of excuses this month so after a self-inflicted slap in my head, I decided to take my own motto under advisement; “get over it and get on with it”.

 Croquembouche (Daring Bakers May 2010)

And man oh man, how I do love a good profiterole with a vanilla crème patissiere! If I was to die by drowning, I want it to be in this holy custard. So being part stupid and part crazy, I naturally had off-the-wall ideas for the humble croquembouche – domes, eiffel tower-shaped or perhaps a spiralled behemoth but seeing as time was of the essence, I decided to get wedding-classic. Sweet and simple.

Croquembouche (Daring Bakers May 2010)

The best part of this challenge was making spun sugar. I never thought I’d have so much fun with caramel! My favourite way of doing this is to lay my kitchen floor with newspaper, line up a few pots with greased handles in a line, grab a couple of forks and go mental spinning silky sticky tresses over the handles from a great height (I don’t recommend standing on a wobbly stool to do it though…trust me!). For the spun sugar I adapted from this recipe.

Croquembouche (Daring Bakers May 2010)

A quick tip for making silky spun sugar is not to start while the caramel is hot and fresh off the stove. What will happen is the caramel would be too flowy and you’ll end up with ugly beads of caramel and thick bumpy strands that resembles more thorns than fine strands. Cool it down so it’ll thicken up, that way it’ll flow off the fork in a steady, slow stream. From there you’ll end with a bunch of beautiful spun toffee for you to mould, lay and wrap your croquembouche however you please.

Croquembouche (Daring Bakers May 2010)

As for the recipes I definitely prefer the challenge’s choux pastry over my usual one from Michel Roux. The smell of the eggy pastry was so intoxicating, it bakes beautifully into a properly dried out profiterole, rises like a champion and stays risen. Winner! In our household, we like our profiteroles traditional and we are deadset lovers of vanilla so I stuck with my usual Michel Roux pastry cream. I didn’t have anything to pretty up the croquembouche with, so at 11pm while it was pelting rain, I went outside to grab a flower to throw it on. Ah yes, that should do it!

Last but not least, The Captain would be pleased to know that, even though I was using only my hands to dip, coat, assemble and spin sugar, I escaped unscathed (for once!) with not one caramel burn! Woo hoo!

Croquembouche (Daring Bakers May 2010)

Crème Patissiere
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Ingredients
  1. 6 egg yolks
  2. 125g caster sugar
  3. 40g plain flour
  4. 500ml milk
  5. 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways (or 1 Tbl of vanilla extract)
  6. icing sugar or butter
Instructions
  1. Combine the egg yolks and a 1/3 of the sugar in a bowl and whisk to a light ribbon consistency. Whisk in the flour thoroughly.
  2. In a pan, heat the milk with the remaining sugar and the vanilla pod or extract. As soon as it comes to a boil, pour the milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly as you do. Mix well then pour back into the saucepan and return to the heat.
  3. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, whisking constantly. Allow the mixture to bubble, while still stirring constantly for about 2 minutes, then tip into the bowl.
  4. To prevent a skin from forming, dust the surface with a think veil of icing sugar or dot over with little flakes of butter. Alternatively you could also place a sheet of baking paper over the entire surface.
  5. Once cold, you could keep the crème patissiere in the fridge for up to three days. Remove the vanilla pod before using the pastry cream.
Adapted from Eggs by Michel Roux
Adapted from Eggs by Michel Roux
Citrus and Candy http://www.citrusandcandy.com/
Croquembouche
As written by The Daring Bakers
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Pate a Choux
  1. 175ml water
  2. 85g unsalted butter
  3. ¼ tsp. salt
  4. 1 Tbl sugar
  5. 125g plain flour
  6. 4 large eggs
  7. For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
Pate a Choux
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
  3. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. (You can also an electric mixer to speed up the process and save your arm strength).
  5. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.
  6. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.
  7. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
  8. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I used a 1cm round tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide (makes about 28).
  9. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.
  10. Brush tops with the egg wash.
  11. Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
  12. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more.
  13. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
To Fill profiteroles
  1. When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.
Hard Caramel Glaze
  1. (I used this for coating the profiteroles and as the ‘glue’. For spun sugar, I used this recipe)
  2. 225 g sugar
  3. ½ teaspoon lemon juice (I skipped the juice and made a dry caramel)
  4. Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.
Assembly of your Piece Montée
  1. You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.
  2. Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).
  3. When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!
Citrus and Candy http://www.citrusandcandy.com/

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

tofugirl June 3, 2010 at 13:57

Oh my gosh that's stunning–both photos and the croquembouche! I would love to try making one, but then…I'd have to figure out how to dispose of it, without eating it by myself. Hehe.

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Katie June 2, 2010 at 10:28

holy moly! Great croquembouche, its absolutely beautiful!

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Marisa June 2, 2010 at 10:00

What a thing of beauty!

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Denea June 2, 2010 at 08:35

Wow Karen. Wow.

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kitchen tables June 2, 2010 at 08:14

Gorgeous! This is so pretty! I like to make this for a family gathering.

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Simon@theheartoffood June 2, 2010 at 05:58

My god Karen. That is one seriously beautiful croquembouche. The spun toffee looks absolutely amazing.

Seriously, seriously good work on this challenge. You should be proud :)

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oneordinaryday June 1, 2010 at 15:09

Gorgeous!

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pigpigscorner June 1, 2010 at 11:52

Wow! Beautiful! You did a really great job!

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Tadeja June 1, 2010 at 08:38

WOW! Incredibly beautiful and succesful work! :) Love it!

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Ladybird May 31, 2010 at 22:10

Well done, Karen! That looks a-ma-zing! Great pics, and great tips on things like the spun toffee – thanks for sharing :) x

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jo May 31, 2010 at 14:59

Definitely a work of art. I would love to try out spun sugar since you had so much fun doing it. Haha.

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tasteofbeirut May 31, 2010 at 13:12

This is stunning! Worth being displayed on the window of a fancy pastry shop in Paris!

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bake in paris May 31, 2010 at 08:33

The prettiest spun sugar I have seen so far! And those caramel drizzled profiteroles are simply irresistable!!

Sawadee from Bangkok,
Kris

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Sarah May 30, 2010 at 16:02

Your result is sooo elegant! The spun sugar is so fine and any bride would surely be pleased to have this appear at her wedding. I'd also be happy to have it appear anywhere just so I could have a bite.

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crumbsoflove May 30, 2010 at 07:29

Beautiful work on your spun sugar- you should be proud

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Karen (missklicious) May 29, 2010 at 07:39

Wow, so perfect!!

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marcellina May 28, 2010 at 22:28

I'm in that custard with you! Beautiful work on the croquembouche and the gardenia on the top is perfect! Wonderful spun sugar and some really great tips!

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Swee May 28, 2010 at 19:26

The spun sugar is amazing!

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Paula May 28, 2010 at 17:24

that`s absolutely awesome! and how sweet :)

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trissalicious May 28, 2010 at 14:13

I really need to learn to spin sugar like you do – your croquembouche looks gorgeous!

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Amy @ cookbookmaniac May 28, 2010 at 13:04

Your croquembouche looks so fantastic and sturdy. If I were ever to receive something like this I would never eat it. i would display it like an art piece :)

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Anita May 28, 2010 at 12:00

There's so much spun sugar!!! It looks gorgeous!!

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Ago May 28, 2010 at 08:14

Hi Karen!
Your croquembouche is beautiful!!!
It was my first time with spun sugar, but I loved it, too.
Absolutely amusing! :-D

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Betty@The HungryGirl May 28, 2010 at 07:11

Aww this is gorgeous Karen! And double yay for no burns!! :D

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The Ninja May 28, 2010 at 06:57

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BIG PROFITEROLE WITH MINI PROFITEROLE BABIES INSIDE >=(

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Memoria May 28, 2010 at 05:56

Oh, wow. I just adore your photos. Your croquembouche looks fantastic. I burned myself a bunch of times, so you're lucky to not have burned yourself this time around. I don't know if I could do this again after such a big burn, though…I don't want to do this again with the little ones I had today haha. Anyway, I applaud your lovely creation.

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@jackhonky May 28, 2010 at 05:36

Gorgeous! Your spun sugar looks fantastic! Next time I make a crochembouche, I'm totally making true spun sugar to drape over it like I did, as opposed to just spinning it directly on the profiteroles. Congrats!

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Kaitlin May 28, 2010 at 03:38

WOW!! This is so gorgeous! I'd love to try making a corquembouche, but I am so afraid of caramel…

Great work, and lovely photos :)

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Namratha May 28, 2010 at 01:38

Your piece turned out beautiful..especially the spun sugar. I did mine in the very last minute too!

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@vindee May 28, 2010 at 01:29

Absolutely gorgeous Karen. Will remember to hang on to you if we are ever drowning… might as well drown in custard!! LOL!! Glad you gave up being the queen of excuses because this is a virtual masterpiece! I want to spin sugar like you. WOW!!

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bakingaddict May 27, 2010 at 21:46

wow great job with the caramel. Wanted to make spun sugar this time but didnt manage it but you've inspired me now.

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outoftheoven May 27, 2010 at 20:41

It's breathtaking!! What a beautiful piece!!

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ThatsSoYummy May 27, 2010 at 20:41

This looks amazing! You did a great job!

-Natasha

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Ruth H. May 27, 2010 at 19:07

Your caramel looks so yummy! The spun sugar looks so light – almost like a spider web – but more tasty! Amazing job!

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Monika May 27, 2010 at 18:38

this just looks sooooo beautiful…edible art :)
I love profitelore myself, so I know what you're talking about :)

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Laetitia May 27, 2010 at 17:27

a chance for us you took part of the challenge!! Your croquenbouche is stunning!!

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Lara May 27, 2010 at 15:52

I am here just speechless!! This is really a piece of art!! Absolutely gorguous!!! Congratulations!! And I have to say it again, I loooooove your Piece Mont

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anda May 27, 2010 at 15:39

It looks amazing. Congrats!

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pragmaticattic May 27, 2010 at 14:58

Really breathtaking picture of your piece montee. Great job with the spun sugar (and thanks for the tip–I used my caramel super hot. at first. It did spin a bit better as it cooled.)

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shirley@kokken69 May 27, 2010 at 14:57

Hi, I saw your photo on FG and am glad I checked out your blog. This is absolutely beautiful. All your pastries look so exquisite and your photographs are definitely Pro! Will be back for more… :)

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Julie May 27, 2010 at 14:42

Gorgeous spun sugar!!

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Suz May 27, 2010 at 13:38

Cor, that looks like it was fun to eat. Not that I'd be comfortable destroying a beautiful thing though – your spun sugar is amazing! I must have another go at that.

Drowned by pastry cream. Now there's a way to go. Mmmmmm.

Great croquembouche. A masterpiece!

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Cherine May 27, 2010 at 11:37

Absolutely gorgeous!! GREAT JOB!!!

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Emma @CakeMistress May 27, 2010 at 10:01

*gasp* look at that spun toffee! I always wondered how that was made, thanks.

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Zia Elle May 27, 2010 at 09:49

Great!!!! Your profitterol with spun sugar is fantastic!!!!
I've just made a simple choco profitterol………your one is wonderfull!!!!

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swerit May 27, 2010 at 09:46

beautiful! congratulations on escaping unscathed! I know how easy it can be!

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Meeta May 27, 2010 at 09:24

how perfectly sensational! this looks simply gorgeous!

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penny aka jeroxie May 27, 2010 at 09:19

Champ! So beautiful and good that there is no more burnt fingers!

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Laura May 27, 2010 at 08:52

INCREDIBLE. that is all

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Poires au Chocolat May 27, 2010 at 08:40

How gorgeous! Your buns look incredibly crispy and yummy. Great job :)

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Mark @ Cafe Campana May 27, 2010 at 08:09

Wow what a great deep colour on your caramel. The spun sugar looks so awesome, I think completing it without a burn is a great achievement.

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Angela May 27, 2010 at 06:31

Wowzer, that is a stunning creation! I'm sooo impressed :-D

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bowb May 27, 2010 at 06:05

wow. that spun sugar looks lovely. you're a regular rapunzel, you are. ;)

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Little Miss Cupcake May 27, 2010 at 05:23

Glad to hear there were no burns involved in this challenge! Your piece montee looks lovely and the gardenia is a beautiful finishing touch!

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Cat Beurnier May 27, 2010 at 05:22

Glad to hear there were no burns involved in this creation! It looks beautiful and the gardenia on top is a lovely touch!

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Jacq May 27, 2010 at 05:21

I love the spun sugar – it looks so professional! And yay for no sugar burns!

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mlle delicieuse May 27, 2010 at 04:04

Oh, how I wish you'd made it into a 'cock 'n bush'! It looks beautiful and congrats on beating the injury curse =D

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FFichiban May 27, 2010 at 04:03

Oh yummmmm this looks so purdy! and gw not burning urself, well caramel ones at least :S

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chocolatesuze May 27, 2010 at 03:41

SO PRETTY! oh gawd be still my heart!

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shez May 27, 2010 at 03:40

Hurrah! Lack of burns ftw!

Love the tip about spun sugar too Karen – must try that for next time :)

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maybelles mom May 27, 2010 at 02:58

can't say i made in through the challenge without burns, but I do agree with your motto. very true. great job.

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Shelley C May 27, 2010 at 02:26

Well I must say that I am glad you decided to participate this month, because that looks fantastic. What a great job you did, and your pictures are beautiful.

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Sara @ Belly Rumbles May 27, 2010 at 02:13

Hope that arm burn heals quickly, ouch!! Your spun sugar is so fine and delicate, looks great. I agree with you the DBC choux was really good, I think I will be using that recipe from now on.

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chef_d May 27, 2010 at 01:49

Wow gorgeous piece montee! Love the way your spun sugar envelops the whole croquembouche :)

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Blue Penguin May 27, 2010 at 01:20

Oh my goodness – that might be the most beautiful and elegant croque I've seen. Surely that *has* to be a win – it looks so lovely (but I'd still be happy to dismantle it and get stuck in!). Just amazing to those of us “more rustic” bakers :)

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Ellie May 27, 2010 at 00:53

You have doen well, Karen! I have to call you the croquembouche queen after seeing 3 croquembouches made by you :)

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OohLookBel May 27, 2010 at 00:00

You really are queen of the croquembouche. The spun sugar you do is amazing, though I don't envy the cleanup afterwards, lol :D

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linda May 26, 2010 at 23:55

omg karen!!! top effort for something that was done last minute. Jeez if you can whip up something so beuatiful last minute, just imagine what you would have achieved had you spent a whole day making it.

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billy@ATFT May 26, 2010 at 23:53

Gorgeous Karen! Ok, the croquembouche too! LOL!
I see the recipe requires more egg yolks, what you gonna do with your never ended egg whites?! MWHAAHHAHA!

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Asha@FSK May 26, 2010 at 23:38

Your spun sugar is gorgeous!! nice work on the challenge

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angie May 26, 2010 at 23:20

Looks gorgeously simple Karen! You did a really good job with the spun sugar it looks so delicate.

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Renata May 26, 2010 at 22:57

This is an AMAZING classic version! Well done on this challenge!

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Barbara Bakes May 26, 2010 at 22:56

Your croquembouch is stunning. Love it from the spun sugar to the gorgeous flower on top. Well done!

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Steph May 26, 2010 at 22:07

Kaaareeennn!! It's so purdy! I love how classic and beautiful it is. And so neat, I wish I could be as neat as you!

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Happy Cook May 26, 2010 at 18:59

Wowo it looks so so beautiful. I love the sugar around it, just so beautiful. I didn't do caramel as i was too afraid, will post them tommorw morning .

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dancingwithfood May 26, 2010 at 18:53

Wow! This is absolutely beautiful! Great job on the challenge.

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