One might wonder how a pastry chef of so many years can go an entire career thus far without ever making a croquembouche (outside of school, of course). As my wilting arms struggled to delicately maneuver the 38" tall tower of cream puffs to an off-site wedding venue, I completely understood why. Because it's a pain in the a**!! From the time consuming task of dipping each puff, to the next time consuming task of filling them, to the eye-crossing business of dipping & glueing them into place, to the hair-pulling anxiety of making sure the thing gets to where it's supposed to be in one piece.... honestly, no thank you. Not only is it stressful and tedious, it's a burden on the body too; think sore back, neck kinks, and the "no way around it" burnt fingertips.
Funnily enough, as soon as the tower was put into place and ready for the party, all that previous angst just melted away. And that's what true satisfaction can do... it makes everything worth it.
My version veers from the ultra classic in that it doesn't sit on a sugary nougatine pedestal, but instead on and around a foam base and cone plastered with the bakery's logo. I felt this would drastically limit any possibility of collapse during transport, as well as afford us a little branding opportunity.
The amber baubles of caramel choux were set into
demi-sphere silicone molds after dipping, which gave them their bon bon-like sheen. This technique also keeps the shape of each puff more uniform and round.
If you've never made one, or it's just been a really long time since, go for it. Just do a few push ups and arm curls first.