Move over brisée, there’s another Thanksgiving-appropriate pâte in town: pâte à choux! These two-bite profiteroles filled with a generous amount of pumpkin custard — basically pie filling cooked on the stovetop instead of in the oven — are a FABULOUS alternative to pumpkin pie.
Finished with a maple caramel drizzle spiked with glug of spiced rum (or bourbon) they’re sure to be a hit!
As a bonus: unlike pie, which would resemble Pac-Man if missing a slice, no one will notice if a couple profiteroles go missing — you know, for “quality control purposes” — before dessert!
Pumpkin Custard Profiteroles with Maple Caramel and Sugared Walnuts
Preparation Time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling time
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Makes: About 1 1/2 dozen
Feel free to double everything, but be sure to rotate the baking sheets for the pâte à choux about half way through. For pastries more on the éclair side of the spectrum appearance-wise, a single recipe of pumpkin pastry cream should be enough to fill a double recipe of pâte à choux (use a Wilton #230 pastry tip, no coupler required); double the caramel as well and drizzle over or dip tops in it like you would with ganache.
- 84 grams (1⁄3 cup) evaporated cane juice or granulated white sugar
- 24 grams (3 tablespoons) cornstarch
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks, reserve egg whites for another use
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 213 grams (1⁄2, 15 ounce can) pumpin puree
- 42 grams (2 tablespoons) maple syrup
- 1⁄4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1⁄2 vanilla extract
Pâte à choux:
- 15 grams (2 tablespoons) millet flour
- 15 grams (2 tablespoons) garbanzo fava flour
- 12 grams (1 tablespoon) potato starch
- 8 grams (1 tablespoon) arrowroot starch
- 1⁄8 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 8 grams (2 teaspoons) maple sugar or evaporated cane juice or granulated white sugar
- 1⁄8 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 28 grams (2 tablespoons) water
- 28 grams (2 tablespoons) whole milk
- 43 grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 48 grams (1⁄4 cup) maple sugar
- 28 grams (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 57 grams (1⁄4 cup) heavy cream
- 14 grams (1 tablespoon) spiced rum or Bulleit bourbon
- 1⁄8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 recipe maple-candied walnuts
Sugared Walnuts (Optional):
Make Pumpkin Custard:
In a small, heatproof bowl (2 quart), whisk together evaporated cane juice and cornstarch. Whisk in egg and egg yolks; set aside. In a small, non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat combine cream, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk constantly until the mixture is steaming, and just about ready to simmer.
Whisk hot cream in a slow stream into egg mixture. Return milk and egg mix to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a simmer and it becomes thick enough to hold soft peaks.
Remove custard from heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Whisk in vanilla extract. Place bowl in an ice bath and whisk to cool the custard to room temperature. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of cream, cover bowl with another sheet and refrigerate until well-chilled.
DO AHEAD: Custard may be made up to five days in advance.
Make and bake pâte à choux:
Place oven rack on the center level, preheat to 375°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together millet flour through Kosher salt. In a small saucepan (2-quart) over medium-high heat, combine water, milk and butter. Warm, stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture comes to a simmer.
While pan is still on the heat, add the flour mixture to the hot water mixture; stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth, stiff paste (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and scrape the dough into the stand mixer bowl that held the flour.
Break one of the eggs into the paste, beat on medium-high speed (with the paddle attachment) until it’s smooth and kind of sticky looking (takes a couple minutes). Scrape down bowl, break the remaining egg into the paste, and beat again until blended, thick and sticky (this is what it should look like).
Spoon small, level cookie scoops (1 tablespoon) of paste onto prepared pan, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Place pan in oven and bake at 375°F for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 325°F and bake for up to 5 minutes more, or until nicely browned and somewhat dry on the inside. Remove from oven and transfer puffs to a wire cooling rack. Once cooled completely, cut each — a serrated knife works well — in about half (or 1/3 bottom, 2/3 top) and proceed to filling.
Stir cooled custard to loosen, and divide it evenly amongst the baked pâte à choux bottoms — you may pipe it on using a large round pastry tip (Wilton #12) or simply scoop it atop. Top each custard mound the other half of shell, pressing gently to adhere. Place filled profiteroles on a serving plate or cooling rack with a sheet of wax paper or a cookie sheet underneath (to catch caramel drips).
Make Maple Caramel:
In a small pan over medium heat, combine maple sugar and butter. Warm, whisking occasionally, until melted and smooth. Slowly whisk in heavy cream, bring to a simmer; cook for 5 minutes, whisking every minute or so. Remove pan from heat and whisk in booze and extract (it’ll bubble a lot!). Return to heat and cook for 1 minute more; it should be bubbly and syrupy.
Using a spoon, drizzle caramel over profiteroles. Allow caramel to cool and firm up slightly before serving (doesn’t take long) with sugared walnuts on the side, if desired.
To store: place caramel-topped profiteroles uncovered in the fridge, allowing the caramel to lose its stickiness before covering loosely with plastic wrap. Best eaten within a couple hours of assembly.