As a kid, I loved cream puffs, cream bread, pretty much anything with cream. I would get giddy with excitement whenever I ate one, but and this is a BIG but, they must be filled with the right cream. There will be no cream puffs with the whipped cream filling, no sir. Only cream puffs with vanilla custard are allowed! There is just no comparison between the two fillings and you can thus imagine my disappointment when my mom brought home a box full of whipped cream filled cream puffs. It was like opening an empty present…and for a child, that’s an experience that must never be had. Ok so I may be exaggerating just a tad, but you get the idea. When I got the idea to make seasonal cream puffs, you know I had to break out the real stuff. Ladies and gentleman, here are pumpkin cream puffs in true form!
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 yolks
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine butter with water and salt in a heavy saucepan. Heat over high and bring to a rolling bowl. Remove from heat. Immediately add the flour and stir until the mixture forms a ball. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each egg is fully incorporated.
- Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the shells are golden brown and puffed. Remove from heat and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile prepare the filling. Heat milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
- Whisk together yolks with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Slowly pour hot milk in yolk mixture in a stream, whisking constantly. Transfer mixture to saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and strain custard through a fine mesh sieve. Cover with plastic wrap directly touching the surface of the custard. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.
- Cut tops of the shells. Fill each cream puff with pumpkin custard. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Cream puffs are basically profiteroles with a sweet custard filling or eclairs without the chocolate icing. This dessert is a classic French favorite. I still recall making these in my pastry course in culinary school, trying desperately to make them as light and fluffy as possible.
The dough used to prepare the puffs is called a choux paste. When adding the eggs, make sure each egg is fully mixed in the batter before adding the next. If all the eggs are added at once, you’ll end up with a goopy dough. The paste is rather thick in consistency but not too thick that it won’t pipe easily. If you’re looking to make small bite-size cream puffs, pipe the choux pastry onto the baking sheet. If you’re like me and want some hefty servings, scoop the batter using spoons directly onto the prepared baking sheet. If you’re looking to make eclairs in the future, save the choux paste recipe since it’s the same paste for both desserts!
There used to be only the classic vanilla custard cream puff but there are now many variations on the filling. You can make a green tea flavor, chocolate, strawberry, nutella, and yes, even pumpkin. Custards are fairly simple to prepare, just think of it as cooked eggs with milk.
When adding the hot milk to the eggs, be careful only to add a little at a time while constantly whisking. This technique of bringing up the temperature of eggs without cooking them is called tempering. If you add the hot milk too quickly, you will end up with scrambled eggs. I don’t know about you but that’s probably the last thing I want in my cream puff.
Strain the pumpkin filling and any last lumps are gone. Smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Even before I filled the shells, my mom said that they looked delicious – I would say that’s very promising.
Cut the tops off and you can see just how light and fluffy the pastry is.
Fill the profiteroles, dust with powdered sugar and bite in!
I was a little nervous about how strong the pumpkin flavor would be, but these pumpkin cream puffs were perfect! The pumpkin was not too strong but present, while the profiteroles were light but could still hold the cream. A little powdered sugar is a must since it adds a little extra sweetness. All in all, a success!
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