Cider brandy croquembouche with toffee sauce

Matt Tebbutt leaves traditional Christmas puddings in the shade with his jaw-dropping cone of choux pastry buns, filled with brandy cream and dripping with caramel sauce
By Matt Tebbutt
Cider brandy croquembouche with toffee sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Effort: hard


For the choux pastry

  • 200 ml water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 85 g unsalted butter
  • 115 g plain flour, sieved
  • 3 eggs

For the filling

  • 1 litre double cream
  • icing sugar, to taste
  • 75 ml cider brandy

For the toffee caramel sauce

  • 200 g caster sugar
  • knob of butter
  • 100 ml double cream

For the caramel sauce for assembly

  • 250 g caster sugar

To decorate

  • toasted whole almonds
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Tips and Suggestions

Once the choux pastry has been filled with cream the pastry starts to soften, so ideally they should be eaten within a couple of hours or they will become soggy.

Choux pastry also tastes best on the day it is made but this is not always practical. Instead, the paste can be made the day before, left in a covered bowl and refrigerated overnight.

If your caramel starts to harden before you've finished using it, gently reheat in the saucepan until it is warm.


1. For the choux buns: preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Mix the water, sugar, and diced butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add a pinch of salt. Heat gently and stir until the butter has melted. Quickly add the flour into the saucepan and whisk. Keeping the heat low, beat the ingredients together for about five minutes. The dough is ready when it clumps together in a ball and comes away cleanly from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Slowly add the eggs, beating after each addition.

2. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and line 3 baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Pipe out small golf ball size rounds about 2 inches apart until you have no mixture left.

3. Bake for 25 minutes until well risen and golden. As soon as the pastry is cooked pierce the bottom of each bun to let the steam escape. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to dry them out and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

4. For the filling: whip the cream for the filling with a few tablespoons of icing sugar. Taste and add more icing sugar if the mixture is not sweet enough. Then add the cider brandy until you have a subtle flavour.

5. For the toffee caramel: melt the sugar in a heavy based saucepan. When the mixture turns to a golden colour, stop cooking by placing the pan into a shallow bowl of water. Add the butter and cream it will bubble so dont worry. Add more cream to get the desired pouring consistency.

6. To assemble: as with the toffee caramel, melt the sugar in a heavy based saucepan, when the mixture turns to a golden colour place the pan into a shallow bowl of water.

7. Fill the buns with the cream then carefully dip a little of each bun into the caramel. Allow the excess to drip off and stack the buns up into a pyramid shape on the serving plate. Leave to firm up, and when ready to serve, spoon over the toffee sauce & decorate with toasted whole almonds. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar

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