Salted Caramel Popcorn Croquembouche

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Salted Caramel Popcorn Croquembouche

It's the grand finale of this year's Great British Bake Off, and what better way to prove you're the winner than with this week's bake-along? This crowd pleasing croquembouche requires a tremendous amount of skill and dexterity, but will make an incredible centrepiece at any party!


For the choux pastry
440ml water
170g butter
210g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
6 eggs

For the caramel crème pâtissière
265g caster sugar
270ml double cream (to add to the caramel)
270ml milk
1 vanilla pod
6 egg yolks
55g cornflour
240ml double cream (to whip and add at the end)

For the caramel
600g caster sugar
130ml water
150g glucose syrup

For the popcorn
50g popcorn
2 tbsp sunflower oil


  1. First, make the choux pastry (see notes at the end of the recipe)
  2. Next, make the crème patissière: Dissolve the 150g of the sugar in 90ml of water in a saucepan, and then bring the syrup to the gentle boil.
  3. Simmer the syrup until it reaches a dark caramel colour then immediately remove from the heat and add the 225ml of double cream (It will splutter and spit, so take care.)
  4. Return it to a low heat if necessary, stir until fully dissolved and then stir in the milk. Split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and add them to the pan with the pod and heat until the caramel milk reaches scalding point then remove from the heat again.
  5. Place the yolks in a bowl with the remaining sugar and beat together. Stir in the cornflour and a splash of the scalded milk until well combined with no visible lumps. Pour in the remaining milk a little at a time, stirring whilst you pour.
  6. Return to a low to medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring. It will thicken rapidly so stir vigorously to beat out any lumps, turn the heat down and simmer for 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat and scrape into a bowl to allow it to cool. Lay a piece of cling film in contact with the surface of the cream to prevent a skin forming.
  8. Once cool, transfer the crème patissière to a food processor fitted with a metal blade and blend until soft and smooth.
  9. Lightly whip the remaining 200ml double cream to soft peaks and fold into the blended crème patissière. Place in a piping bag with a small nozzle and chill until required.
  10. Bake the choux buns: Very lightly oil a non-stick baking sheet and put teaspoons of the choux pastry onto the baking sheet, making sure they are well spaced, about 4 – 5cm apart.
  11. Use a dampened clean finger to smooth out any spikes or peaks on the choux buns.
  12. Place in the top third of the oven and bake for 20 – 30 minutes until well risen and puffed out and a deep golden brown colour all over. Check after about 20 minutes. The buns should be very firm to the touch at the base where it sits on the baking tray; if they are soft and pale golden cook them for longer otherwise they will collapse and be soggy when cooled.
  13. Once cooked, remove from the oven and whilst still hot turn over and make a hole in the base using a skewer or the tapered handle of a teaspoon to allow the steam to escape. The hole should be about 1/2cm in diameter or the size of your smallest piping nozzle. Place the buns hole side up back on the baking sheet and return them to the oven on a lower shelf or reduce the temperature to about 170ºC/gas mark 3 to allow the inside of the profiteroles to dry out. They need to dry out for about 5 – 6 minutes.
  14. When dried out, remove them from the oven, place on a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before filling with the caramel crème patissière, holding them in the palm of a clean hand. Once filled return to the wire rack. Fill all the choux buns.
  15. Make the caramel: Dissolve the sugar in the water with the syrup in a large saucepan. After wiping down the sides of the pan with water bring the syrup to the gentle boil and boil the syrup until it reaches a light golden colour. (Have a few centimetres of cold water in the sink and when the caramel has reached the desired colour, dip the base of the pan in the cold water to stop the caramel colouring further.)
  16. Using tongs, dip the base of each filled bun into the caramel and use it to stick them together in a ‘freestyle’ pyramid shape. Re-melt the caramel if it gets too thick to use. Save the leftover caramel for the popcorn.
  17. Make the popcorn: Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid. Add the popcorn, cover with a lid and cook on a high heat until the corn stops popping, shaking occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  18. To assemble: Reheat the remaining caramel until quite runny.
  19. Pile up the choux buns into a pyramid on a large plate, using a little of the caramel as glue to make sure the structure is secure.
  20. Stir the popcorn into the caramel until well coated. Allow clusters of the caramel popcorn to cool on a silicone mat or lightly oiled silicone paper.
  21. Break any larger clusters of popcorn up and again using liquid caramel, stick them onto the choux tower. As you do this you will also create ‘strings’ of caramel for decoration. Drizzle the as much of the remaining liquid caramel over the pyramid as you require.

You can find the recipe for making choux pastry here.

Take your baking skills to new heights with the original winner of the Great British Bake Off in Edd Kimber's Afternoon Tea or know your crème pâtissière from your caramel with Chef Skills - Patisserie classes! 

For those with serious baking ambitions, our part-time Essential Professional Patisserie Skills course is a brilliant way to get a taste for life as a pastry chef. 

Sophie Hibbert

Author: Sophie Hibbert

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