Choux à la Citrouille: Pumpkin Cream Puffs

zapallo

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! 

puffupbuttercup

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.

Pumpkin Butter–Mantequilla de Zapallo

Are you sick of me yet?  I know, right!  When I am I going to get over fall?  But, seriously.  How could you not look at this and think anything negative or ill-willed toward something so lovely.  I found this by accident and thought maybe I would be inventing something when I typed in the words, “pumpkin butter.”  Que sorpresa! It actually exists!

There are some things about having The Handicapped Kitchen in Peru that are an advantage.  One of those things would be that there is pumpkin all year long.  The word for pumpkin in Spanish is calabaza, but calabaza here refers mostly to anything in the squash family (even zucchini which is Italian squash if you translate it literally).  The closest thing that we could find here in Peru that’s verdaderamente pumpkin is something called zapallo.  It’s a really ugly looking thing, but it’s the exact consistency and color of the pumpkin I know in the States.

Regardless what the pumpkin was, this turned out delicioso.  It’s great for toast and I even read a review where it said you could put it on pancakes… I have yet to try that, but it sounds really really good.  I could even tell you that I thought about eating this stuff straight from the spoon, but that would be irrational and would only be getting half the delight by missing out on crunchy toast texture!  A mi me encanta la textura.

DSC_0187-1

Pumpkin Butter

1 can (29 oz/3 cups) pumpkin puree
1 cup apple juice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp clove
1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 cup sugar

I’ll tell you how easy this was to make.  I woke up and it was the first thing I did… before making myself a cup of coffee.  Yea, it’s that simple.

My handicap was that my pumpkin puree only turned out to be about half of what it should’ve been.  Simple enough, I cut the recipe in half.

Put the pumpkin puree and spices and apple juice all in a pot and bring to a boil.  This is strange because the mixture is rather thick and may not boil like you would picture a rolling boil.  Once it starts to bubble and spit, turn down the heat to let it simmer.  Let it simmer for 30 minutes.  If it starts out looking really thick and want to thin it out just add some more apple juice.  As you simmer, the mixture will turn darker and darker.

When it’s simmered 30 minutes or if it’s cooked down to the consistency you want it (keep in mind it may thicken up even as it cools) remove from the heat and spoon into sterile jars.  Put in the fridge and chill before serving.

Spread this stuff on some toast or some cookies or… whatever you can think of.  Maybe ice-cream?  Does that sound good?  Just don’t put it on Pumpkin Pie… that would be dumb.  What will you put it on?

DSC_0193-1