Mold Or No Mold?

That’s the question of the week! My feeling at this stage is no mold. Or at any rate nothing made of metal, poster board or any of those sorts of substrates. The way I see it the challenges of a croquembouche are twofold: 1.) building it in such a way that it appears tall and graceful, not like a heap of paving stones, which can happen if you don’t have some sort of conical guide, and; 2. building it in such a way that it doesn’t lean, slump or tip over completely.

In an attempt to overcome challenge #1, many aspiring croquembouche makers construct witches hat-looking cones make of cardboard. They then build the pastry inside it, upside-down. When the caramel has cooled they up-end the croquembouche and remove the cardboard. The problem is that the cardboard doesn’t always come away cleanly and you’re left with unsightly bits of paper stuck on (or in) the candy. Another problem with the technique is that it’s all but impossible to judge how well your croque is going to stand up when it’s done, since you built it upside-down.

Metal croquembouche molds solve the problem by giving you a solid base to build around rather than inside of. It’s easy to remove if it’s been properly lubricated, so no problem there. Me, I just don’t like those things, in part because the shape is a little too squat for my liking, in part because it’s a one-use metal mold that costs a fair amount of money and that’ll just take up space on my gear shelves.

So my plan is to use paper. Silicone-coated parchment paper to be precise, which I’ll cut and form into a cone and place upright on a plate. Using it as a building guide I’ll stack the cream puffs around it, and when the tower has cooled, simply remove the paper. That’s the plan at any rate. I’ll let you know if it changes.

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25 Responses to Mold Or No Mold?

  1. LML says:

    I don’t think a one-sheet parchment cone will support the puffs and carmel. It might not even support itself when you [attempt] to attach it to a plate. Hmmm… maybe I’m projecting my absence of manual coordination onto your project. This reads like an exciting Joe Pastry project; cue the cliffhanger background music!

    • Antuanete says:

      Maybe it’s possible to use cardboard mold with parchment paper on it? Then you could stack cream puffs around it like metal mold, but later remove cardboard (which would serve as base) and parchment (non-sticking layer).

    • joepastry says:

      Hey LML!

      I think I’ll set it on a silpat or something. I’m not really looking for support as much as a building guide. Croquembouche are routinely built freehand. I just want to make sure I’m building in a roughly conical shape! ;)

      - Joe

  2. Heather says:

    I agree with LML. What about a dollar store kids cheer leading megaphone? Wrap the parchment around that. Or a piece of poster board. If you have a tin of tinker toys you could hook something up! Raid the kids craft drawer for pipe cleaners to support the parchment paper? Just some thoughts. Good luck : )

    • Heather says:

      By the way, I didn’t miss the “no poster board” in the first paragraph. Just thought that with the parchment wrap it might be a more acceptable support than plain poster board.

    • joepastry says:

      You are a crafty girl, Heather! I thank you for all the great ideas!

      - Joe

  3. Eight Pond Farm says:

    Such an ambitious project, I cannot wait to see it! Joe, you can use one of those inexpensive styrofoam cones (like those in the hobby and crafts stores — the ones for Christmas trees are still on mark down now!) and cover that with your foil or parchment. I used one that had been a witches’ hat (after I took off all the leaves, ghosts, etc they had covered it with for decorations).

    • joepastry says:

      Very nice idea, EPF! I like that thinking…I’ve seen some of those at a local craft store. Neato!

      - Joe

  4. Jen says:

    Hi Joe,

    Maybe to address LML’s concern you could use a cone of bristol board *covered* with your silicone-coated parchment paper, and then use the entire thing as a mould to build around. That would combine sturdiness, non-stickiness, and cheapness all in one :)


  5. Alison says:

    I’ve seen people make a mould out of card covered in foil and then greased, and stacked around the outside, like a classic metal mould. But I await your solution with anticipation!

  6. ascanius1 says:

    cardboard cone covered with parchment.–gCw

  7. Susan says:

    If you think the parchment too flimsy, could you use a chinoise as a base under it?

  8. It was bizarre watching Australian Masterchef when they had to construct a croquembouche… they built it on the *inside* of the cone. The most bizarre thing I’ve seen on that show, and they do some crazy things :p

    Very much looking forward to the Joe version!


    • joepastry says:

      I’ve seen that done and don’t understand it, Chris, probably like you. I’m looking forward to my version too…whatever it is!

      - Joe

  9. Jim Hu says:

    Now, if you had that 3-D printer for chocolate you’ve posted about…you could serve it without removing the mold!

  10. Rachel says:

    I say no mold. I made this a while back and stressed over molds or not and then I ended up doing it free hand. It will be conical in shape. I promise.

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