Long gone are the days of only having one option for a wedding dessert! While the traditional tiered white wedding cake is still a lovely choice, there are many other ways to branch out to offer different sweets on a wedding dessert table. Pies, cupcakes, and even full candy bars have been popular options, but there’s another out-of-the-box alternative we'd like to recommend: croquembouche.
What is Croquembouche?
Croquembouche is a French dessert made from choux puff pastry, a super-delicate pastry dough. Each pastry puff is filled, most commonly with crème pâtissière, and then stacked in a cone shape. To help this confection stand tall, a drizzle of caramel is added to hold it together.
Serving Croquembouche at a Wedding
Croquembouche definitely offers a unique alternative to a wedding cake, and that’s entirely the point. “Most couples who come to me requesting a croquembouche want something different for their wedding,” says Isabelle Boizis, owner of Zaza Marcelle Cake Design in England. “A croquembouche doesn’t last as long on display as a wedding cake—in France, it is traditionally brought out only at the time of dessert. Unlike a wedding cake, guests won’t have hours to admire it because it gets cut right away, so the main focus here is the taste—and it tastes absolutely delicious!”
Meet the Expert
Isabelle Boizis is a French patisserie chef and the owner of Zaza Marcelle Cake Design in Bristol, England.
While croquembouche may seem like a new addition to weddings, this traditional French pastry has been around for hundreds of years. Invented by Antonin Carême, the dessert was originally a confection made up of fruits, nuts, and chestnuts all stacked together with caramel. “It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that the fruits and nuts were replaced with choux puffs to create the croquembouche as we know it today,” says Boizis. And with a story with such a rich history, this might just be the perfect dessert to honor French heritage or to display at a European venue.
While caramel is traditionally added to the mix to serve as the glue to hold this stacked dessert together, other flavors, colors, and decorations can be easily incorporated. “I personally love to glaze my small croquembouches with baker’s fondant. This way all the color palettes can be done—but for large pieces, there is nothing like a beautifully caramelized croquembouche,” says Boizis. “It can then be adorned with fresh flowers, sugar flowers, or sugar crystals.”
According to Boizis, each wedding guest will typically have three choux pastry buns from the croquembouche, so it’s common to offer a variety of flavors with the fillings. The most common filling? Crème pâtissière, a thicker custard-like pastry cream that can be altered to offer flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, coffee, raspberry, or lemon.
There are so many options to customize this unique dessert to your wedding theme and color palette. Read on for 12 ideas to inspire your own.
Decorate With Greenery
With white dipped choux pastry buns paired with a simple sprig of greenery and a single white flower, this croquembouche is perfect for an outdoor garden wedding.
Add Some Shine
Don’t you just want to dive right in? This glazed croquembouche stands tall, with the most charming accent of tiny white florals for a sweet, unexpected look.
Cover With Caramel
There's something special about embracing the look of a classic croquembouche. This couple did just that, dressing the traditional pastry with greenery, florals, early-season berries, and a small chocolate sign.
Can you believe how many little pieces of pastry are at play with this dessert? This croquembouche features a white iced choux pastry design with plenty of caramel to hold it together. We love the way this giant dessert makes a statement, with a single yellow bloom to finish off the look.
Love the look? Consider creating a sweet dessert display around the croquembouche. While the final piece may need to be added just before serving the final dinner course (remember: they don't hold for long!), we think it would be worth the effort.
Light It Up
One word: wow! Any croquembouche puts on quite the show, but this one, accented with plenty of caramel and piped florals, makes an extra statement. It's even lit with sparklers to make it truly shine.
Decorate With Sugar Flowers
Topping your croquembouche tower with flowers is such a simple way to add even more elegance. This tower features a handcrafted duo of sugar flowers on top, with smaller sugar flowers in a variety of shades throughout.
Form a Shape
The beauty of croquembouche is how creative you can get with it. Not only did this couple incorporate a tower into their wedding dessert table, but they took the display one step further by making it in the shape of a heart. Take their lead and make a shape of your own—then add sparklers for even more fun. f
Pair With Pastels
Croquembouche can lend itself to such elegant displays when dressed up, and this is certainly one of them. And with a ring of greenery and florals at the base, this design pairs perfectly with an elegant wedding theme.
Supplement a Cake
Who says you have to choose between a unique tower of croquembouche and a cake? This display combines the best of both worlds with a single-tiered cake and choux pastry tower on top. It's basically a caramel lover’s dream.
Just as you can adjust the filling inside a croquembouche, you can add icing on the outside. Match your tower to your wedding theme by utilizing baker’s fondant to add a touch of color to each choux pastry—no matter if your palette is pink or not!
Make Your Own
There's something celebratory about a croquembouche—even if it's not in the traditional shape. This couple didn’t form the typical cone shape, but that's what we love about it the most. With layers of choux pastry, florals, multiple flavors, and additional pastry details, this display shows that the options with croquembouche are truly endless.
Want more inspiration? Browse creative cake alternatives below.