What the heck is a croquembouche, anyhow? It's a French dessert with cream pastries stacked in a tower and threaded with sugar strands or caramel sauce. This is my cheater's version, perfect when you need a centerpiece, conversation piece, or wow-them dessert that you can put together in less than thirty minutes...yes those are donut holes. Enjoy!
THE HOLIDAY (CHEAT) CROQUEMBOUCHE
Ingredients: 1 styrofoam cone 4x11, parchment paper or foil, toothpicks, 50-60 donut holes, 1-2 ounces fresh rosemary*, 1 tbsp. egg white, 1/3-1/2 cup powdered sugar, gold star sprinkles.
1. Prep cone: Keep the plastic on the syrofoam cone. Using parchment paper or foil, wrap the cone and secure with tape as needed.
2. Stack donut holes: Using toothpicks, skewer donut holes and place them on the cone. It works best to place a toothpick into the cone first, about halfway in, then push on the donut hole. Try to keep the donut holes close together, but don't worry if you have little gaps--you'll fill those with rosemary. Alternate the holes if you bought different kinds for a pretty look.
3. The flourishing: Stir together the egg white and powdered sugar, until you have the consistancy of thick honey. This is your "glue". Dip sprigs of rosemary into the glue, then fill gaps as you like and make it pretty. (It will dry in about an hour) Then use the glue to adhere gold star sprinkles or any other sparkly dragee' you choose.
*Rosemary: You'll need more than you assume. I bought two .5 ounce plastic packets, and should have had three.
Make in advance: (I would only do this up to 3 hours), gently tent with plastic wrap or foil to keep in a little moisture. Donut holes dry out after a while, you don't want them slipping off the toothpicks. But if a few do, or they crumble, don't fret. Have a few extra on hand to pop in place.
Transporting: Have someone else drive while you hold it on your lap. It can be tippy. Otherwise, set the finished croquembouche (on it's platter) in a box. Cover lightly and lay in a few towels to keep it from sliding.
Size: You can make this bigger or smaller. (My cone was 4 x 11.5 inches, purchased at Michael's.) Just make sure to adjust the amount of donut holes up or down. If you need to get out ruler to "gage" how many you'll need, do! Donut holes definitely vary in size based on where you buy them.
Assembling: Make sure you build the croquembouche on the platter you will be serving from. It's hard to move it without loosening the donut holes.