Sometimes you just want a literal tower of food.
And sometimes French pastry chefs have already invented a tower of food. For those not in the know, croquembouche is “a form of choux pastry that is generally served as a high-piled cone of chocolate, cream-filled profiteroles all bound together with threads of caramel.”
As with most (all) French pastries, a traditional croquembouche is in no way vegan. But hey, that’s what adaptation is for, amiright?
This ~adaptation~, as I call it, is just a tower of vegan apple cinnamon protein balls spun together with a dry caramel. Because autumn is just around the corner, and what’s a more classic combination than apples and caramel? So simple, but so elegant. There’s a reason these things are often at weddings in place of a cake. It’s a literal centerpiece, a masterpiece!
If you’ve never made caramel before, never fear. It’s quite simple! I know I’ve said it before, but in times of uncertainty I turn to the ever-insightful David Lebovitz, who has a great step-by-step caramel tutorial.
There are plenty of vegan caramel recipes on the interwebs, but most of them require dates, which I didn’t have. However, using organic cane sugar, I can fully justify this dry caramel as vegan. There are all sorts of internet discussion on what sugars can be considered vegan, but as long as it hasn’t been refined using bone char (an animal byproduct), it’s fine by me.
Vegan Apple Cinnamon Balls
1/3 cup all natural apple sauce
2 tb chia seeds
1 tb cinnamon
1 tb maple syrup
1 cup vegan granola, maple or apple flavored
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flax seed meal
3 tb coconut flakes
Apple, cut into small cubes
In medium bowl, stir apple sauce and chia seeds. Let sit 5 minutes while chia seeds absorb moisture and thicken. Stir in cinnamon and maple syrup.
Next, add oats and flax meal and stir until thick dough forms. If desired, add coconut and apple pieces, and stir to combine. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour, then shape in 1″ balls. Before making caramel, stack balls into tower shape. Balls should be room temperature before spinning with caramel. Dough will make enough balls for 3 mini croquembouche or one large one.
Basic Dry Caramel
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
Add sugar to thick pan (I used a heavy duty saucepan) and set stove to medium-high heat. Let sugar sit, stirring occasionally to bring lightly browned bits to center of pan, and letting white sugar sit to brown on bottom of pan. Do not stir vigorously; let caramel color develop as sugar melts and browns.
When desired color is reached, remove from stove and submerge bottom of pan in lukewarm water to stop the caramelization process. Quickly drizzle over tower of apple cinnamon balls in a circular motion. Serve immediately for best taste and texture.
If you wanted to make this recipe more like an “authentic” croquembouche, you could fill the centers of the balls with caramel before refrigerating. This recipe really only yields a few small towers or one large one, so you’d probably have to use double the sugar to make double the caramel. Easy conversion!
On a last note, I’ve been listening to some new Stars (oh, and this one too)! They’ve got a new album out on Sep. 4th, and I can’t wait to hear the whole thing. I can’t get enough of Amy Millan’s voice, and what Stereogum describes as their “bubbling synths, click-clap drums and infectious melody.” Go quality Canadian bands!