Pumpkin Cream Puffs

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These cream puffs are guaranteed to stop traffic on the way to the pies this Thanksgiving. Classic choux pastries (they bake up like little cabbages or "choux" in French) get filled with brown sugar and pumpkin pastry cream for a dreamy contrast in textures. When the little guys come out of the oven you'll want to flip them over and pierce them with the tip of a sharp knife. This allows the steam inside the hollow center to escape to keep the puffs crisp. You can make the filling ahead of time and keep it chilled until ready to assemble. And don't worry if it looks too thick: a little bit of whipped cream folded into the pudding base makes for an extra light filling.

Pumpkin Cream Puffs
These sophisticated puffs take pumpkin desserts to the next level. We say skip the pumpkin pie if you make these (it might get jealous). Get the recipe:Pumpkin Cream Puffs. Photo: Max Kelly
Hands On Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
Yield:
22 serves

Ingredients

  • For the Puffs:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • ½ teaspoon table salt

  • 1 cup plus 1 tsp. water, divided

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • For the Pumpkin Cream:

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

  • ¼ teaspoon table salt

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 3 large egg yolks

  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ¾ cup heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Prepare the Puffs: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine butter, sugar, salt, and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add flour. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture forms a ball and leaves a thin coating on the bottom of the saucepan, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed, 2 minutes (mixture will look broken). Add whole eggs, 1 at a time, beating until dough is smooth and combined after each addition.

  2. Using a piping bag or 2 spoons, scoop 22 golf ball-sized portions of dough onto prepared baking sheets. Whisk together egg yolk and the remaining 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl. Lightly brush tops and sides of dough balls with egg mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Rotate baking sheets, top rack to bottom rack, and reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until puffs are browned and crisp, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and pierce the bottoms of puffs with the tip of a knife to allow steam to escape. Cool completely on baking sheets, for about 30 minutes.

  3. Prepare the Pumpkin Cream: Whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a small saucepan. Whisk in milk and egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium, whisking constantly, and cook, continuing to whisk constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in pumpkin, butter, and vanilla until butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl; cover with plastic wrap, placing plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a film from forming. Chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

  4. Whip cream on high speed with an electric mixer until medium peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into pumpkin mixture until just combined.

  5. Split puffs in half and fill each with about 3 tablespoons of pumpkin cream. Sift together powdered sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the tops of filled cream puffs.

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