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Christmas Croquembouche

['1 recipe pâte à chou', 'About 1 cup pastry cream', '1/2 cup heavy cream', '1 recipe chocolate sauce', '"Assorted candy decorations such as M&M;s', 'Red Hots', 'licorice balls', 'and silver dragées"', 'Large pastry bag with 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch plain tips', 'clear tape', '18-inch-tall Styrofoam cone (available at floral shops and craft stores)', 'parchment paper', 'cake-decorating turntable (optional)', 'about 70 toothpicks', 'thimble', 'cloth leaves (available at floral shops and craft stores)']

Preheat oven to 425°F. and butter and flour 2 baking sheets. Spoon pâte à chou into a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip and pipe about 55 mounds onto baking sheets, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, leaving 1 1/2 inches between mounds. With a finger dipped in water gently smooth pointed tip of each mound to round puffs. Bake puffs in upper third of oven 10 minutes, switching position of sheets in oven halfway through baking if necessary. Reduce temperature to 400°F. and bake puffs 20 minutes more, or until puffed and golden. Let puffs stand in turned-off oven 30 minutes. Transfer puffs to racks to cool. With a skewer poke a 1/4-inch hole in bottom of each puff. Puffs may be made 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight container. Recrisp puffs in 400°F. oven 5 minutes and cool before filling.
In bowl of a standing electric mixer beat pastry cream until just smooth and soft enough to fold in heavy cream (do not overbeat). In a chilled bowl with cleaned beaters beat heavy cream until it holds soft peaks. Fold whipped cream into pastry cream. Chill filling, covered, about 1 hour, or until cold.
Transfer filling to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain top and barely fill each puff (do not overfill), putting filled puffs in a shallow baking pan.
Using tape, cover cone with parchment paper. Place cone on turntable if using.
Line a tray with wax paper. Working with 1 cream puff at a time, dip bottom in chocolate sauce, leaving top 1/3 inch uncoated and letting excess drip off, then arrange 1 ring of puffs around base of cone, placing as closely together as possible. Insert toothpick through each puff into cone to attach puff to cone, leaving end of toothpick sticking out (you'll push it in later with thimble).
Attach second ring of puffs above first, again packing tightly and staggering so puffs in second ring are not directly above puffs in first ring. Continue in same manner to dip and attach remaining puffs. Finish covering cone with 1 puff attached to top of cone.
Using thimble, push in toothpicks until not visible.
Decorate by pushing candies and leaves into gaps between doughnut holes.
To serve croquembouche, dismantle, 1 puff at a time.

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