The classic French croquembouche is a cone-shaped pile of cream puffs bound together with threads of caramel. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect show-stopper for your holiday brunch table? In theory, a croquembouche absolutely magical, but in execution, if you’re not a pastry chef you may be in over your head. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. The answer is doughnut holes.

Instead of spending hours filling cream puffs, stick doughnut holes (go ahead and buy them from the store—who cares!) into a cone. Nestle pieces of crispy bacon in the exposed bits to cut the sweetness and add a pop of color. Save the sugar spinning for your final in pastry school drizzle the whole thing in a simple brown sugar sauce, then if you’re feeling especially festive, wrap a strand of thin lights around the croquembouche. Don’t let anyone eat it until you get a round of applause.

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Doughnut Hole Croquembouche

  • Yields: 1 50-doughnut hole croquembouche
  • Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium until crispy, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Break into bite-sized pieces.

  2. Combine brown sugar, butter, and milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in bourbon. Set aside.

  3. Use toothpicks to hold doughnut holes onto Styrofoam cone, starting at the base and building to the top, placing one doughnut at the tiptop. Place bacon in gaps between the doughnuts. Drizzle caramel sauce over doughnut cone. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately or at room temperature.