I have been away from my kitchen far too long! I hope you have escaped the ridiculous upper respiratory infection going around, but if you have not, you understand why I haven’t been cooking or eating much for almost 4 weeks! Food is just not very interesting when you cannot smell or taste! I’m feeling a lot better and I wanted to share this treat with you as it might be a nice addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table. My inspiration came from the baking demonstration I attended with Dorie Greenspan, where she shared her Crackle Top Cream Puffs from her newest book, Baking Chez Moi. A couple of days later, I found a Pumpkin Bourbon Mousse recipe, recently republished as part of Saveur magazines Thanksgiving suggestions. I added a personal twist by using a unique and new (to me) spice blend Advieh, from World Spice Merchants here in Seattle. I ran across it when I was ordering other fresh spices for holiday baking. I knew nothing about it, but after reading the ingredients: cinnamon, cardamom, roses, cumin, black pepper and coriander…. I knew it would be fabulous. I also changed out the bourbon in the mousse, for my favorite rum, which I think is a natural complement to pumpkin.
More Savory, Less Sweet isn’t just a catchy title for my blog; it pretty much defines my palate! These little 2-3 bite treats are just my style and are perfect with an after dinner espresso or a final glass of bubbly!
Crackle Top Cream Puffs with Rummy Pumpkin Mousse
adapted from Baking Che Moi, Dorie Greenspan, and Pumpkin and Bourbon Mousse, Saveur
I split this up over two days, just to make things easier. Make the custard and the cookie pastry the first day. As always, read all steps through carefully and make sure you have all ingredients and equipment needed on hand.
for the Pumpkin Mousse
¾ cup sugar
6 tbsp. high quality aged rum, like Zaya Gran Reserva (my all time favorite, thanks Dave!)
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground Advieh or Pumpkin Pie spice
8 eggs, yolks
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup heavy whipping cream whipped with 2 teaspoons powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Bring 2″ water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Place a medium metal bowl over pan, and add sugar, rum, salt, spice, and egg yolks; whisk together, and cook, whisking constantly until thickened and pale, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and add canned pumpkin, fold until almost combined. Place in a bowl and chill thoroughly. Make the whipped cream, fold the chilled mousse into the whipped cream. Keep cold until ready to fill the cream puffs.
for the Crackle Tops
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Let the butter sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before using. Put the brown sugar and salt into the bowl of the food processor. cut the butter into 10 pieces and add to the sugar. Process until almost blended Add the flour and pulse until the dough forms moist curds. Pulse in the vanilla.
Scrape the dough onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper and form into a disc. Caver with another sheet or parchment or wax paper and roll out dough to a thickness of about 1/16th inch. Slide the dough onto a tray or cutting board and place in the freezer for a minimum of two hours. Cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch rounds and return to the freezer until ready to bake the puffs.
for the Cream Puffs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, one stick cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 425′. Position the racks to be able to use the top 2 of 3. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a rolling boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Add the flour all at once, reduce the heat to medium low and stir vigorously using a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes. The dough should be very smooth. Let the dough rest 3 minutes. Turn the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the eggs into the dough ONE AT A TIME, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. The dough should be used immediately.
Either pipe the cream puffs onto the prepared pans with using a pastry bag, or use a small cookie scoop that holds about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Leave at least 2 inches between puffs. Gently top each puff with a round of frozen crackle top dough. Place the baking sheets in the 425′ oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 375′. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans from top to bottom; front to back. Bake another 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let them cool to room temperature.
To fill the puffs for my recipe, I cut them in two along the edge of the crackle top and piped the whipped cream pumpkin mouse into each one using a large star tip. I did this about an hour before serving and kept them cold in the refrigerator.
I hope you give this pumpkin pie alternative a try!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,