Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 13, 2012

Chef makes croquenbush for Pavilions residents


— TRAVERSE CITY — Residents at Grand Traverse Pavilions got an early holiday treat when Chef James Hunter shared his expertise with French pastries to demonstrate making a croquenbush earlier this week.

Hunter, who has done pastry work in France, created a Christmas tree tower of mini eclair-like pastries filled with a liqueur-flavored pastry cream and drizzled in caramel. Residents gathered to watch and taste as Chef Fernando Builes took platters of the little puffs around the room for sampling.

“Croquenbush is a French special event pastry,” said Hunter, general manager for Sodexo, the Pavilions’ food service provider. “They use it over in France for weddings, different holidays, parties — any kind of highfalutin’ function.”

Hunter was also going to be making croquenbush for the Pavilions’ holiday party later and had prepared about 1,000 of the pastries in preparation. In all, his staff serves about 325 residents, as well as 75 to 100 staff and visitors a day.

“We cook a lot of our foods from scratch,” Hunter said. “We do a lot of fun pastries and different kinds of desserts.”

Hunter said Sodexo does food demos in some of its other properties and that he expects to begin offering them monthly for residents.

“They seem to really enjoy it because we haven’t had a food demonstration like that before,” said Pavilions’ recreational therapist Kari Belanger. “It was a very good turnout.

“A lot of the comments were, ‘Oh, can I have another?’”

And having such programs coincides with other cooking activities residents enjoy. Belanger said they use electric skillets, portable ovens and a fryer to cook as an activity.

“The recipes we do use in an activity nine times out of 10 are coming from a resident or it’s a resident suggestion,” she said. “It’s something residents enjoy and it feels like home to them.”


½ c. butter

1 c. water

1 c. all-purpose flour

¼ t. salt

4 eggs

Melt butter in a sauce pot with the water. Take sauce pot off of heat. Add salt and flour, mixing well with a kitchen spoon. With the kitchen spoon, mix in one egg at a time until the flour/butter mixture is fully incorporated with the egg. 

Place into a pastry bag and pipe or spoon onto a baking sheet. Shape into preferred size and shape desired. Batter will rise to double in size so keep enough room available for the growth. Bake at 425° for approximately 15 minutes.

Mousse Filling

¼ c. semisweet chocolate chips

1 T. coffee-flavored liqueur

1 egg yolk

1 ½ t. vanilla extract

½ c. heavy whipping cream

1 T. white sugar

Melt chocolate chips with coffee-flavored liqueur in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat; stir until smooth, about 5 minutes. Stir a small amount of hot chocolate mixture into egg yolk; return chocolate and egg mixture to pan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract. Cool, stirring several times.

Beat heavy cream in a large bowl until it begins to thicken. Stir in sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream mixture into cooled chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Caramel Drizzle Topping

1 c. granulated sugar

¼ c. heavy whipping cream

Place sugar in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Let sugar melt and turn light golden brown. Turn heat down very low and stir in heavy whipping cream mixing slowly until fully incorporated and smooth.

To assemble a croquenbush:

Items needed: Pastry Bag, star tip, small sauce pot, metal or wood kitchen spoon, rubber spatula, medium-size bowl, round serving platter, powdered sugar.

Place the star tip into the pastry bag before filling the bag. Place the mousse into the pastry bag with the rubber spatula. The star tip is beneficial because of the sharper edges, which will allow for you to penetrate the pastry. Take the pastry in one hand while with the other hand insert the pastry tip into the bottom of the pastry. Squeeze filling into the pastry until full. Set aside in the cooler until ready to assemble.

Once the caramel is finished and is still warm, use the spoon and drizzle some of the caramel onto the bottom of the pastry. Place one after the other in a circle around the edge of the serving platter. Once in a full circle around the bottom of the serving tray, add another circle, slightly smaller in size, on top of the one you have created using the caramel as the glue to hold the pastries together. Keep in mind the cone shape that you are looking for as the finished result. Continue this process until the cone is complete.

Drizzle additional caramel to assure the pastries are firmly sticking together.

Garnish with a little powdered sugar sprinkled over the top.