What is croque en bouche and how do you make it?

If you are an avid watcher of baking shows or competitions, there's a very good chance you have seen someone make a croque en bouche. This French pastry, whose name translates to "crunch in the mouth," is a sweet treat that has a good balance of textures (via Martha Stewart). The tower of pastry is made up of smaller choux buns, which is the pastry itself. The buns are usually filled with pastry cream that is traditionally vanilla-flavored, though other flavors can be used. To tie it all together into the tower or cone that it is presented as the filled buns are glued together using sugar caramel. 

Once the cone of choux buns has been erected thanks to sturdy caramel, the dessert is usually decorated with all kinds of things. Some choose to spin leftover caramel into a web or cloud-like structure that can rest on top of and around the choux cone without weighing it down or causing it to collapse. Others, like The Spruce Eats, opt for sugared almonds, though flowers, chocolate, caramel-covered nuts, gum paste decorations, and even candied citrus could be used too.

Here's how one is made

The easiest way to make a croque en bouche is to break the tasks up over a couple of days. The choux and the pastry cream can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to three days. Choux is a cooked dough, and pastry cream is also cooked. Once both are made and cooled, the cream is used to fill the choux buns followed by using caramel to build them into a cone or pyramid shape. Once the entire croque en bouche is made and secure, it can be decorated. The Sweet Nerd suggests sticking a sparkler in the top to really make it a show-stopping crowd-pleaser. 

Just as croque en bouche is not exactly a beginner-level dessert to make, it isn't clear-cut as to how to serve it either. According to Reddit, there are a couple of ways to ensure you don't have choux buns flying across the room or tearing because of the caramel being too hard to crack. The best option is to use a thin layer of caramel so they will break off easier. Another is to incorporate some dairy into the caramel so it doesn't harden quite so much. Otherwise, you can use a knife to tap and break through the caramel around the buns you wish to eat. They should let loose and you can simply place the buns on your plate.