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how to make croquembouche


This impressive tower of cream puffs is sure to impress. While it may seem intimidating, this pastry creation is made of 3 base components: choux pastry, vanilla pastry cream, and caramel. From the baking to free-form assembly, this guide will walk you through to croquembouche success!
Prep Time 4 hrs
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 16 servings


  • Hand or stand mixer
  • Large mixing bowl
  • spatula
  • Medium saucepan
  • Baking tray
  • Parchment paper
  • Piping bags and tips
  • Pastry brush


Choux pastry

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup (240g) water
  • 1 cup (240g) milk (whole or 2%)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (250g) all purpose flour
  • 8 eggs, beaten

Vanilla pastry cream

  • 2 cups (480g) whole milk
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (25g) corn starch


  • 2 1/2 cups (500g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120g) water


Day 1: Make the choux pastry

  • Combine butter, water, milk, salt, and granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Add all of the flour and stir until completely incorporated. The dough should be a thick ball. Press against bottom of sides of the pan for 1 minute to cook the flour and remove from heat.
  • Place ball of dough into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool before adding eggs.
  • With hand or stand mixer on low speed, slowly add the beaten eggs in 3 or 4 batches with 30 seconds between each. Pour in very slowly and observe the texture of the dough. At first it won't look like it's coming together, but will eventually become thick and glossy. Stop when you have a thick and pipeable texture. I like to save at least 1-2 tbsp of egg to use as the egg wash.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheet with parchment and lightly brush each sheet with water. The water helps create extra humidity in the oven, which helps with puffing.
  • Fill your piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip with the choux pastry dough. Pipe circles 1 inch in diameter. Space each circle 1 inch apart on the sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes and then, making sure not to open the oven door, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 5 - 10 more minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.
  • Store choux puffs in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to assemble.

Day 1: Make the pastry cream

  • Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until pale, light, and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Whisk in corn starch until fully incorporated.
  • Mix milk, butter, salt, and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.
  • Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is thick and the whisk marks hold. This should take about 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the surface of the custard touches the wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Day 2: Fill the puffs and prep for assembly

  • When ready to assemble, remove the puffs from airtight containers. Spread on baking sheet and dry out for 5 minutes in the oven at 350°F. Let cool before filling.
  • Poke a small hole in the bottom of each choux puff. Place the pastry cream in a piping bag fitted with a 1/4 inch tip. Fill each puff by placing the piping tip inside of the puff and gently squeezing in cream. Be careful not to overfill. You should have about 50 - 60 filled puffs.
  • Arrange the puffs from largest to smallest. This will help with assembly.
  • Trace a circle on a sheet of parchment paper that is 8 inches in diameter. Flip upside down so you can still see the circle through the paper. This will be a guide for assembly.

Day 2: Make the caramel

  • Fill a large bowl with ice water. Place sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar to dissolve. Do not stir again after the sugar has dissolved. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to prevent crystallization. After the caramel is an amber color (about 340°F), remove from the stove and place the pan in the cold water to prevent further cooking.

Day 2: Assemble

  • Fill a glass with cold water and place next to your work station in case of caramel burns. If your fingers touch the hot caramel, dip them into the water.
  • Use the largest puffs for the bottom of the croquembouche. Dip the front and one side of a cream puff into the caramel, being careful not to burn your fingers. Stick the puff onto the sheet, with the top of the puff facing out. It should be just within the edge of the circle. Dip another puff into the caramel, coating the front and two sides. Place the puff so that one side sticks to the other puff, and the other side sticks to the parchment paper. Repeat until you close the circle, angling the puffs slightly inwards.
  • Repeat with the second layer, using at least 1 less puff. Before placing each puff, drizzle caramel on top of the first layer to use a "mortar." Try to place puffs in the empty spaces between puffs in the first layer for structural stability. I find it helpful to hold the last puff I place while dipping the next puff to help the caramel set up.
  • Continue to build layers, using less puffs for each layers. You may periodically need to reheat the caramel. Finish the tower with a single puff. You should have 8 layers.
  • To decorate, you can make caramel strands by letting the caramel cool in the pan until thickened. It should form a thread when you lift it with a fork. Dip a fork in the caramel and spin around the croquembouche to encase in caramel threads. Alternatively, decorate with ribbon and fresh cranberries.
  • The croquembouche will last for 5 - 8 hours before it begins to soften.


  1. The choux pastry recipe makes about 80 - 90 puffs. You may have 20 - 30 puffs left unfilled, which you won't need for the final construction. I suggest cutting them in half and enjoying with ice cream.
Keyword choux pastry, cream puffs, croquembouche