Apple Eclairs

Who doesn’t like apples? And who doesn’t like eclairs? Nobody, of course! From my Introduction to Philosophy classes in college I deduce that everyone must also like Apple Eclairs. Boom, your mind is blown and your mouth is watering.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Halloween is at the corner we just passed. I can’t believe what time of year it is! This past year has gone by so quickly. I was gone this past year in Ecuador and never got to meet my nephew, who was born only several weeks after I left for work. To be back and see little Judah walking has been pretty incredible. He’s a cutie and just had his birthday party yesterday.

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Somebody’s one!!!

It was a blast to watch him eat his cake. He made such a mess! His older siblings helped him blow out the candles and lick the decorations clean from off his cake -of course they were helpful for sweets!

For the birthday party I wanted to make something fall-esque so I made Apple Eclairs, something of an invention when I couldn’t make what I really wanted to make. I used a basic pate a choux. I had tried making this before in Puno, Peru but it’s at 12,000 feet above sea level so it was almost instantly a fail. So, for the first time making pate a choux at an acceptable altitude I was stoked watching them rise in the oven. I’m telling you, baking is magic.

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Apple Eclairs

Pate a Choux 
Julia Childs says that pate a choux is an easy staple that every cook ought to have in their kitchen repertoire. I agree, it is easy –once you understand the ground rules- and there’s a lot you can do with pate a choux, which makes it sure to surprise every time you serve it. I did not use her recipe exactly, but when I read it afterward I wish that I had.

Ingredients Important things you’ll need
1 cup water  1 1/2 quart pot
3 oz butter (3/4 stick)  mixing bowl
1 teaspoon sugar  parchment paper
1 pinch of salt  two cookie sheets
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour  piping bag
4 eggs    1/2 inch piping tip
1 egg beaten w/ 1/2 tsp water  pastry brush

Boil water in a 1 1/2 quart heavy bottom pan along with butter, sugar and salt. Boil until butter is melted. While that is going on measure out the flour.Remove from heat and add all the flour to the water at once and beat immediately and vigorously for several seconds until it is well blended.

Bring the pan back to the burner and place on moderately high heat and beat for 1-2 minutes until the mixture leaves the sides of the pans and does not stick to the spoon and a film appears on the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat and place in a mixing bowl. Spread out flat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes, but not much longer. If you don’t you will end up cooking your eggs then and there in the dough. Once slightly cooled break in one egg and stir until well incorporated into the dough. Do this one egg at a time; however, for the last egg add it a little at a time as needed to make sure the dough doesn’t become too runny. It should resemble heavy mayonnaise.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Prepare your cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper and set aside. Start to put the pate a choux in your piping bag and put on piping tip. If you do not have a piping bag you can make one out of parchment paper. Fill piping bag and start to pipe your eclairs onto the baking sheets. I made mine about 1 1/2 inch wide and about 6-7 inches long each. Make sure to space by about 2 or more inches as they will puff up quite a bit. Dip pastry brush in beaten egg with a bit of water and smooth over tops of the eclairs. Place the sheets side-by-side in the oven in the upper third portion of your oven. Bake for 20 minutes. They are done when they are doubled in size and are nice and golden and crusty to the touch. Remove from the oven and working quickly pierce the sides with a fork and place back in the oven and let cool with the door slightly open for 10 minutes. Cool the eclairs on cooling racks.

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Apple Filling

Ingredients Important stuff you’ll need
2-3 apples medium sauce pan
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup water

I used McIntosh apples, which I just think are great baking apples and they turn into mush so easily, which is needed for this recipe. Peel and core the apples then dice them up and throw them in the sauce pan over medium high heat. Throw in the sugar, butter and cinnamon (I’m not going to lie I didn’t measure the cinnamon I put in, I just threw in what I thought looked and smelled right, adjust as you see fit) and allow to sautee for a few minutes. Turn heat down and let the apple simmer down until they are soft enough to mash. If you like to keep a bit of chunk in your apples at this point that’s fine. Mash with a fork, then add 2 tbsp flour and 1 cup of water and allow to cook for 5 minutes until things are nice and goopy. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Glaze

Ingredients Important things you’ll need
4 oz cream cheese mixer 
1 cup powdered sugar   
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter   
1/2 tsp vanilla  

Cream together cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar until fluffy and then stir in vanilla.

Assembling Eclairs

Once the eclairs have cooled used a bread knife to cut them lengthwise in half. I placed that all on the countertop open and spooned out the apple filling into each evenly between them all. At then end if there was left over apple filling I split it evenly between them topping them off. Place the tops back on the eclairs and frost with the cream cheese frosting. You’ll have extra frosting probably, so find some graham crackers to snack on too! You can powder the tops of the eclairs with a touch of cinnamon to finish up.

What other kinds of things can you think of to make with pate a choux? Cream puffs is an obvious choice, but what else?!

Enjoy!

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Choux à la Citrouille: Pumpkin Cream Puffs

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Oh glorious fall, how I miss you.  There is nothing quite like the smell of rotting leaves hanging on the air.  That and the many smells that spill out of kitchens nation-wide.  It’s something dear to me, but unfortunately, Peru only experiences two seasons, neither of which include fall.  So, I only get to live out fall precariously through desserts.  That’s not too bad right?

When I first embarked upon this  idea of using pâte à choux I was  planning on making éclairs, if you had seen my posts via Facebook you would´ve seen that.  I wanted to make éclairs with a pumpkin filling and cream cheese glaze.  However, I was quickly brought back to the reality of where it is that I actually live.  I live at 12,000 feet above sea level.  I was excited to start up on THK again.  It has been too long that I haven´t posted anything new, mostly because I burnt myself out.  Well, this recipe about did that in one strike.

I´m going to share with you some things about pâte à choux that I learned in my three different attempts that carried me through several stages of insanity.  I was ticked that out of all the different recipes I found only one included what I thought was key to making pâte à choux.  Only use the amount of eggs you need to get the consistency you need.  Seriously, I was so mad when I found this after two failed attempts.   Well, I gave up on the éclair idea, so I did a fall rendition of choux à la crème instead.  Though, still with paté à choux and the pumpking and cream cheese!  Even then, our elevation effected how much the dough would rise. 

 

I certainly wish that they had puffed up more, but I did what I could.  I spent unspeakable hours slaving in the kitchen today.  I started at 10 am and didn’t get done until 5 pm.  I’m not being dramatic when I say that I have near blisters on my hands from stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon today.  I do not want to scare you away from making these cream puffs though!  They were actually well worth the trouble.  Next time, I’ll know exactly what to do and I won’t have to utilize as much prayer as I did today. 

At one point of this process I really was sitting in front of my oven praying to God that He would make my PUFFS PUFF! 

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There are three parts of the recipe: dough, filling and glaze.

Dough
You know, I’m just going to refer you to the site I got the dough recipe from.  They explain it rather well, probably better than I could.  http://www.annamariavolpi.com/pate_a_choux.html  But, read on first.

I will note that it’s key you follow every step closely.  It is rather technical.  The consistency of the dough in the end should be not of mayo, like that site says, but rather between mayo and playdough.  It should hold it’s shape if you spoon it out onto a surface, but it should not be extremely stiff. 

Something else that made me want to rip out my hair was that the majority of pâte à choux recipes I found were all in METRIC.  I despise you metric.  Only because I have nothing to measure you out with. 

Filling
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp butter, melted
4 large eggs
2 cups of milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp clove (ground)

If you’re using pumpkin pie filling, like Libby’s then you shouldn’t have to worry about the spices, you could add a little more, because you’re practically deluding it in the cream you’re creating.

In a bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, butter and eggs in a large sauce pan.  Then mix in milk slowly as not to create lumps.  Put over heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Cook until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and set aside. 

I roasted my own pumpkin, because finding canned pumpkin in Peru would cause an aneurism.  It’s no problem finding pumpkin here either.  The pumpkin in the first picture in this post is zapallo, what I used for this recipe and yields a great substitute for any recipes that call for the convention pumpkin one might find in the States. 

If you already have you pumpkin puree seasoned dump it in with the cream and stir.  If not, measure out your pumpkin puree and add the seasonings.  You may want to put this over a medium heat and add milk so the flavors set into the puree.  Then add to the cream.  Add more spices as needed. 

When the puffs are cooled and ready cut them open with a serrated knife and spoon pumpkin cream into the centers and put the tops over the cream to form sandwiches. 

Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth.  I put this over a low heat until the frosting melted and then spooned this out over the puffs.  You can sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top for garnish.