It’s the time of year where everyone needs a show stopping dessert to devour first with their eyes, and then with their palate, and what better than a decadent Strawberry Croquembouche Christmas Tree to get you in the festive mood?
60-65 medium sized fresh strawberries
500g white chocolate buttons/good quality chocolate bar chopped into small pieces
1/2 small bottle White small sugar ball sprinkles (I used Wilton brand)
Golden small sugar ball sprinkles
12” Croquembouche styrofoam tower
Styrofoam cake dummy
Small wooden skewers
Silicone snowflake mould
- Wash the strawberries and pat dry with paper towel, make sure there is no water at all. Remove the leaves gently with hands.
- Separate out about 1/4 of your chocolate buttons, and set it aside. In a microwave safe bowl, place 3/4 of the chocolate buttons or chopped white chocolate. Microwave the bowl of chocolate in 30-second increments twice. Stir after every 30 seconds using the rubber spatula. Heat and stir in smaller increments of 20 seconds and then in 10 seconds until the chocolate is entirely melted and smooth.
- Let it come to 40°C-43°C. Once the chocolate is melted, check its temperature with the chocolate thermometer. If it is not at 40-43°C, heat it in short bursts until it reaches that temperature, but watch it carefully. Do not allow the chocolate to exceed its recommended temperature or it might thicken, become hard to work with, or even scorch.
- Add the reserved chocolate buttons. Place it in the bowl of melted chocolate, and stir gently to incorporate. Stir almost constantly to melt all the chocolate. Use an almost scraping motion against the block of chocolate to incorporate it into the melted chocolate. The warm chocolate will melt the chopped chocolate, and the newly added chocolate will bring down the temperature of the warm chocolate. Cool the chocolate to 32°C for dark chocolate or 30°C for milk or white chocolate. Continue to stir the chocolate while it cools, until you reach the prescribed temperature.
- Poke a toothpick or a skewer in the stalk side of a strawberry, carefully dunk them in melted chocolate bowl, coat the entire strawberry and sprinkle with white and gold sugar balls alternately. Poke them on styrofoam cake dummy to let them dry and temper.
- For swirls, pour some melted chocolate in a piping bag, snip-off the tip of the bag with scissors and pipe it around the dunked white chocolate strawberries.
- For gold leaf, place the gold leaf on dried strawberries.
- Coat 15 strawberries, each with different covering.
- To assemble, pipe some chocolate at the bottom of croquembouche base. Let it set completely.
- Starting from the bottom, poke the toothpick into the tower, insert a strawberry on the toothpick and cover the bottom line. Cover the entire bottom line first and then repeat the same and cover the whole croquembouche.
- Finish off with some embellishments – I added a gold star and some snowflakes, but feel free to choose what you like.