The perfect Christmas party show stopper

Steven Bennett, the renowned Lincolnshire Chef, cooked up a storm in The Lincolnshire Kitchen at our 2016 Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair - and if you missed his impressive croquembouche here's the recipe for you to try at home!

This simple but impressive dessert will be sure to 'wow' your dinner guests, and is a great alternative to Christmas pudding if you're not one for brandy and raisins! Profiteroles can be made a month ahead and stored in the freezer, or 2- 3 days and kept in an airtight container. The rule of thumb with a croquembouche is put it together as close to serving as possible as you can, as the creamy centres will start to turn your beautiful crisp choux buns into a soggy mess.

Christmas Party Show Stopper

You'll need

  • 185g plain flour
  • 175g unsalted butter (cubed)
  • 6 large eggs (beaten)
  • 600ml full fat milk
  • 1 vanilla pod (split)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 65g plain flour
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 225ml water

What to do

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan with 450ml water. Gently heat until the butter has melted, before bringing to the boil and immediately adding the sifted flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball and leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
  2. Beat in the eggs one at a time until the mixture is thick and glossy, only just holding its shape. Spoon in half the mixture into a large plastic piping bag with a 1cm plain piping nozzle. Pipe 2cm small rounds onto lined baking sheets, trimming away the paste with a knife, making around 75 choux buns. Bake for 25 minutes in a pre-heated 200°C oven, until well risen and golden.
  3. To make the filling, bring the milk and vanilla slowly to simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, flour and sugar until pale and creamy. Remove the vanilla pod and pour the warm milk over the egg mixture before pouring it back into the pan and cooking over a low heat for 4 - 5 minutes, whisking continuously. Once you have a custard-like consistency, remove from the heat and sieve, removing any lumps. Cover with cling film and leave to cool. Using a long nozzle, fill a piping bag with cream and fill each of the choux buns through holes created with steam.
  4. To assemble: place sugar and water into a clean pan and dissolve over a gentle heat. Once dissolved, bring to the boil 154°C without stirring. Once at 154°C plunge the pan into a larger pan of cold water to prevent the temperature from rising. To service, dip each choux bun on its side and arrange around the base of your croquembouche mould. Repeat this method until you've used up all of your buns, or reached the top of the mould. If the caramel thickens, reduce by returning it to the heat to warm up. Decorate with spun sugar, edible gold dust and party-safe sparklers!

If you decide to give this recipe a go at home, why not send us a picture on Twitter @lincsshowground, or tag us on Instagram @showglincs?