piece montée


This was a fun daring baker's challenge! How could it not? Pate a choux, pastry cream, chocolate glaze! Oh my! 

As you can see, my puffs didn't quite come out puffed up, but I still managed to get some of them filled with pastry cream. Nonetheless, the pastries were still delicious to eat. After filling them, the challenge was to make them into a mound called a piece montée with these little discs. My solution: to make a cone with chip board and foil. With the help of chocolate glaze, I was able to get a mini mountain of pate a choux. So here it is!

piece montée
vanilla crème patissiere
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
  2. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
  3. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
  4. Continue whisking until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
  5. Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
Pate a Choux
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • for egg wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. 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.
  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. Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
  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 egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
  11. Bake the choux at 425 degrees F until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
  12. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
chocolate glaze
  • 8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate 
  1. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.
Assembly of the 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, 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.
  3.  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.
  4. 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!
    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.

    Foodbuzz daily special inspiration is the silicon ball whisk, great for the pastry cream.


    1. Great job on the challenge! That chocolate glaze looks so rich and delicious!

    2. Ah, good call on the inner structure. And your chocolate looks a lot smoother than mine. Lovely.

      Here's to more puff next time! And to my next one not falling over! : )

    3. Looks delicious. I used chocolate as well.


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