Nicola Harrington - guest blogger living in France with 7 holiday rental gites

Nicola Harrington

To be perfectly honest, I am getting a little bit anxious now. OK, in actual fact, I am severely wound up about this pièce montée, and this is not helped by my mother telling me I really shouldn’t have taken it on as in her own words: “What happens Nicola, if you can’t do it? That is the centre piece for the day. You could ruin the whole christening”. No pressure there then. Thanks Mum!

I was up at 4.00am this morning. I made three batches of profiteroles and three different caramel sauces. The traditional caramel sauce alone, whereby you melt sugar very slowly in water, took an hour and a half and went rock hard within 10 minutes of coming off the cooker. No good. I must do better as I won’t be able to pile up the profiteroles in under ten minutes. No way!

The cheats caramel is another option. But it is no good: the sugar didn’t melt and the result was very grainy.

Now, I have a mega confession to make: the third and final ditch try was Delia’s toffee sauce. Toffee sauce / Caramel sauce, will anyone be any the wiser? Well, good old Delia, the toffee sauce took just 10 minutes to make… I just hope it is sticky enough to glue the choux.

Toffee sauce
Toffee sauce

Well, once finished, I took all three samples round to Fabienne and Francois, keeping my fingers crossed behind my back that they would vote for the toffee sauce. Whoopee, yes, they did! What a relief! It was certainly worth all the trauma and effort.

To be fair, even I found it was a little sweet, but it did get the thumbs up. That’s the main thing.

It has also just dawned on me just how big this pièce montée has got to be. There will be between 28 and 35 people at the christening. In an ideal world, that means four choux per person. That is 140 choux in total! Not only that but these cute, dainty choux need to be mounted up on top of each other to form a lovely symmetrical cone.

Fear not, I have a plan. What about making two separate pièces montées: one with chocolate and one with caramel. Feeling very proud of my brainwave: surely 70 choux piled on top of each other is more manageable?

I will need to ask Fabienne tomorrow.

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