As a kid, I loved cream puffs, cream bread, pretty much anything with cream. The more I ate them, the more I realized that the cream puffs with custard were infinitely better. There will be no cream puffs with whipped cream filling, no sir. Only cream puffs with vanilla custard! There is just no comparison between the two fillings and you can thus imagine my disappointment when my mom brought home a box full of whipped cream-filled cream puffs. It was like opening an empty present. Ok so I may be exaggerating just a tad, but you get the idea. When I got the idea to make seasonal cream puffs, you know I had to break out the real stuff. Ladies and gentlemen, here are pumpkin cream puffs in true form!
Pumpkin Cream Puffs
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
Pumpkin custard filling
- 2 cups milk
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine butter with water and salt in a heavy saucepan. Heat over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat to low and add all of the flour to the butter water mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Remove from heat and add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each egg before adding the next.
- Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. The shells should sound hollow when done. Cool the shells completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Heat milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
- Whisk together yolks and egg with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Slowly pour hot milk in yolk mixture in a stream, whisking constantly. Transfer mixture to saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve and cover with plastic wrap directly touching the surface. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.
- Cut tops of the shells. Fill each cream puff with pumpkin custard. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Cream puffs are basically profiteroles with a sweet custard filling or eclairs without the chocolate icing. This dessert is a classic French favorite. I still recall making these in my pastry course in culinary school, trying desperately to make them as light and fluffy as possible.
The name of the dough is called choux paste. When adding the eggs, make sure each egg is fully mixed in the batter before adding the next. If all the eggs are added at once, you'll end up with a goopy dough. The paste is rather thick in consistency but not too thick that it won't pipe easily.
To make small bite-size cream puffs, pipe the choux pastry onto the baking sheet. For bigger portions, scoop the batter using spoons directly onto the prepared baking sheet. If you're looking to make eclairs in the future, save the choux paste recipe since it's the same paste for both desserts!
There used to be only the classic vanilla custard cream puff but there are now many variations on the filling. You can make a green tea flavor, chocolate, strawberry, Nutella, and yes, even pumpkin. Custards are fairly simple to prepare, just think of them as cooked eggs with milk.
When adding the hot milk to the eggs, be careful only to add a little at a time while constantly whisking. If you add the hot milk too quickly, you will end up with scrambled eggs. I don't know about you, but that's probably the last thing I want in my cream puff. Strain the pumpkin filling to get rid of any lumps and let it cool completely.
Even before I filled the shells, my mom said that they looked delicious - I would say that's very promising.
Cut the tops off and you can see just how light and fluffy the pastry is. Fill the profiteroles, dust with powdered sugar, and bite in!
I was a little nervous about how strong the pumpkin flavor would be, but these pumpkin cream puffs were perfect! The pumpkin was not too strong but present, while the profiteroles were light but could still hold the cream. A little powdered sugar is a must since it adds a little extra sweetness. All in all, a success!
For more cream puff inspiration check out these key lime cream puffs!