Pumpkin transforms cream puffs
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup (about 4 large) eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup white crystal (pearl) sugar
Store-bought jar good-quality caramel sauce
1 quart pumpkin ice cream
Adjust rack to middle of oven; preheat oven to 400° for at least 20 minutes before baking. Have nearby a small food/ice cream scoop #100 (capacity is 2 level teaspoons) for forming the cream puffs, or fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. Place laminated food-grade silicone sheets (Exopat or Silpat) on two baking sheets, or lightly grease two baking sheets and dust lightly with flour.
Sift the flour onto a sheet of waxed paper; set nearby. Bring the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter to a rolling boil in a 1 1/2 quart heavy saucepan over medium heat. Immediately remove from heat and stir to combine the ingredients. Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, and scraping sides of pan, until a stiff paste forms and comes together in a ball. Place over low heat and beat for about 30 seconds to eliminate extra moisture. The paste should be smooth, thick and glossy. Transfer to a large bowl to cool for about 10 minutes.
Using an electric mixer, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. After incorporating the eggs, the paste should be smooth, glossy and stiff yet hold a soft peak that droops slightly when lifted by a spoon.
Using the scoop, drop small mounds of paste on the silicone-lined baking sheets, or fill the pastry bag half full with the paste and pipe bite-size cream puffs about 1-inch in diameter. Space the cream puffs 1/2-inch apart to allow for expansion. (If the paste is piped, dip a pastry brush in cool water and lightly "glaze" each cream puff. The brush helps shape each puff smoothly.) Sprinkle the sugar crystals over the cream puff forms.
Bake for about 22 to 25 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown and the sides are rigid enough so they won't collapse when removed from the oven. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a cooling rack. (When cooling the cream puffs on a wire rack, don't place them close together or the steam may soften the puffs and make them soggy.) If not using right away, they may be frozen in a sturdy container for up to 1 week.
Bake the second batch of puffs on the other baking sheet following the same procedure as before.
Bake both sheets at the same time if you own a second oven or if you have a large oven (be sure to space two racks about 5 inches apart).
Using a small serrated knife, cut off the top third of each puff. Set the tops nearby. Remove any soft, uncooked paste from inside. Spoon or pipe the equivalent of about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of caramel sauce inside each puff. Then with a #60 (capacity is 1 level tablespoon) or small ice cream scoop or spoon, fill the puffs with the pumpkin ice cream . Set a cream puff top on each. Place the filled puffs on a baking sheet in the freezer until firm, then cover the sheet loosely with aluminum foil until serving time. May be frozen for up to 3 days. Serve directly from the freezer.
Pairs Well With
One recipe that always attracts rave reviews at our house is Pumpkin Profiteroles, which is my take on classic cream puffs using pumpkin ice cream.
Whether you've scheduled a holiday open house or a cookie swap, these profiteroles offer a change from traditional holiday desserts. Plus, they're practical.
To start, the cream puffs can be baked a couple of weeks ahead and frozen in a sturdy container. A week before serving, fill them with ice cream and freeze.
After preparing cream puff pastry (pate a choux), try using a small ice cream scoop, with a 2-teaspoon capacity, to scoop the paste (rather than piping it) onto silicone-lined baking sheets.
Scooping the paste is a convenient shortcut for bakers. So is the laminated food-grade silicone baking mat, which can replace parchment paper. The mats prevent sticking, can go directly from freezer to oven, and are reusable -- more than 2,000 times, according to manufacturers. Just wipe them clean between uses and roll them up for storage.
Treating your guests to these special two-bite finger-food sweets couldn't be easier. Simply remove them from the freezer, place them on a favorite serving platter and pass. No plates, no silverware.
And after these caramel sauce-pumpkin ice cream shells are served to family and friends, watch their reactions. Chances are they'll make your festive party even better.
Pumpkin Profiteroles with Caramel Sauce
These two-bite ice cream bonbons should be popped in your mouth directly from the freezer. They're great for large parties to offer to standing guests. To serve at the table, spoon some warm caramel sauce into bowls, set 2 to 3 profiteroles on top of the sauce and spoon additional sauce over profiteroles. If desired, serve with slices of fresh pear or sprinkle with toasted nuts.