Pumpkin Cream Puffs
Pumpkin season is in full swing and these little pastries are a pumpkin double whammy. They’re dressed up for Halloween, but they’re so delicious I can’t wait to serve them all fall long. I thought I was nearing peak pumpkin saturation – with so many pumpkin spice items around, but this pumpkin pastry cream has brought won me back. The filling is light and rich at the same time and the spice level is mild but really flavorful.
The choux (cream puff) pastry is easy to make although it seems daunting at first. It’s the same one I used in the Courtesan au Chocolat video, if you need a visual refresher. The pastry is best fresh, but the filling can be made a few days ahead of time and refrigerated. Once your pastry is done you can fill and serve. I think these little pumpkins are pretty cute, but you can just as easily skip the decorations and serve them with a plain glaze.
For the Pastry:
- In a medium pan heat the butter, water, sugar, and salt.
- Once the water is simmering take it off the heat and quickly stir in the flour.
- The dough should start to pull away from the sides and form into ball within about 30 seconds. Place it back on a low heat and keep stirring for another minute or so. You’ll know it’s ready when the dough is shiny and comes together easily. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the eggs to the dough one at a time, stirring to combine between each addition.
- Spoon the dough into a piping bag with a round tip and pipe it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I like to make them slightly bigger than bite sized so roughly an inch and a half in diameter, don’t worry too much about the exact size. Just don’t make them too small or too big and try to keep the sizes roughly the same so they cook evenly.
- Dip your finger into water and push down any edges or spikes. Keep dipping your finger in water so you don’t stick to the pastry.
- Bake the at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool before assembly!
For the Pumpkin Filling:
- In a bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar. Stir together until totally combined. Whisk in the cornstarch and set aside.
- In a saucepan heat the milk to a simmer. As soon as the milk is starting to bubble take it off the heat and add a little bit of the hot milk to the egg mixture. Stir to combine and then pour the egg mixture into the pan.
- Put the pan back on the heat, add in the spices and the pumpkin puree. Keep stirring over low heat until the mixture start to thicken. It should take about two minutes, as soon as you feel it thickening take the pan off the heat.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and the butter. The mixture should be smooth and creamy. If there are any lumps strain the filling.
- Allow the filling to come to room temperature before assembly or if making ahead time cover and refrigerate.
- When the pastry and filling have both cooled, fill the pastry. Place the filling in a piping bag fitted with a small tip and pipe through the bottom of the pastry until you feel a bit of resistance – that’s how you know the pastry is full. Alternatively, you can cut the pastry in half, open it up, fill it halfway and then cover.
- Make the glaze by mixing the confectioner sugar with 1 tbsp of milk, if the mixture is way too thick slowly add a little more milk. You want to keep the mixture on the dry side so it doesn’t get runny. You can always add more milk as you go.
- Separate a few spoonfuls of glaze into a small bowl before adding the food coloring. The bulk of the glaze should be colored orange and a few spoonfuls should be made a black or brown color. I added a mini meringue for the stem but you can always make a green glaze to paint on the stem that way.
- Spoon a little orange glaze on the top of the pumpkin making sure the top is coated.
- Place the darker glaze in a food storage bag. Cut a small hole in the bag and draw on your jack o lantern. Garnish with candy or add green glaze for the stem.