It’s #weddingwednesday! I’ll be posting about our destination wedding in France on Wednesdays. As an event and wedding coordinator, it’s fun for me to share the process and I hope I can help out couples who are planning their wedding (destination or otherwise).
When planning a multi-cultural wedding, part of the fun is deciding which cultural elements to include to make it special and meaningful for you and your guests. For us, we mixed in different French and American aspects and one of my “must-have’s” was to have a traditional French wedding cake, specifically the croquembouche.
In France, the wedding cake is referred to as la pièce montée, which literally translates in English to “mounted piece” or “assembled piece”. It is a decorative creation that is displayed as a centerpiece at a special event. Historically, the pièce montée was not meant to be eaten.
The typical French pièce montée is the croquembouche or croque-en-bouche which translates to “[something that] crunches in the mouth”. The croquembouche is a dessert made up of cream puff pastries (aka choux à la crème) that are arranged in a cone shape and bound by threads of caramel. While croquembouches made of macarons are quite popular today, we wanted the traditional choux croquembouche.
Our “Cake Tasting”
Our venue recommended La Duchesse Anne in the city of Saumur. It’s a cute little pâtisserie and tea salon which we were able to visit a few months prior to the wedding. We had a choux tasting to select the flavors of the crème pâtisserie inside the choux. Our options were nature (plain crème pâtisserie), chocolate, vanilla, and combier (a locally made orange liquer similar to cointreau). The pâtisserie is family owned with the father serving as the main pastry chef. He even took a moment to come out and meet with us and talk about his craft.
During our visit we discussed how we wanted the design of the croquembouche. Some of their customers have opted for specialty designs rather than the traditional cone, such as a castle or a car (I wish I took some photos of these designs to share with you). One of the other ways you can customize your croquembouche is with nougatine. Nougatine is similar to praline and is made from light caramel mixed with crushed almonds. It’s poured onto a flat sheet and then cut into decorative shapes and typically serves as the base of the croquembouche. You can also use the nougatine to create special designs to attach to the cone – some examples they showed us were butterflies, or shapes of objects that mean something to the couple. We asked that they recreate our monogram on a sheet of nougatine, and I thought they did an amazing job.
When ordering the croquembouche, they recommended that we get at least 3 pieces of choux per person if the croquembouche is the only dessert. If you plan on having other sweets, the recommended serving size is 1-2 choux per person. Since our dinner service included a dessert, we opted for 2 choux per person and actually ended up having a few leftover at the end of the night.
The Cake Cutting
At the wedding we had a symbolic “cake cutting” where we cut one of the choux at the bottom of the cone and fed each other. In the end, we ended up removing one of the choux since it was difficult to actually cut off. Unfortunately that was my only taste of the croquembouche for the rest of the night (like most brides, I was so excited I hardly ate). When we return for an anniversary trip to the Loire, a visit back to La Duchesse Anne will be on the itinerary.
Have you ever had a croquembouche? If so, would you prefer it over traditional cake?