The problem with cooking for friends and family, whilst working in the food industry is that more is expected of you. Or, at least that is how you will undoubtedly always feel. If your dish isn’t paid a compliment or duly noted then immediately you recoil into a state of panic and melancholy that you might have chosen the wrong career path, that you are not as good a cook as you thought you were or that you will never be good at anything and so on and so forth. Alright, so perhaps it’s not ‘you’ I’m referring to but rather just myself. It’s not that I spend days panicking over what to cook for an upcoming event, or find myself with a shaky hand at the stove, it’s just that I’m hopelessly competitive and I’m always looking to out-do myself and quite frankly anybody else who chooses to wear an apron. It is perhaps this mentality of “I can do better than this or that”, which is why I keep working towards my goals. But then of course, there are those momentary setbacks, where you try to be too clever and end up out-doing even yourself.
So, here they are, the profiteroles with pumpkin caramel that appeared so strange amongst their more traditional Thanksgiving neighbours’. An attempt to be clever and unique when really I ought to have stuck with a pumpkin pie. Originally I had wanted to fill these little choux buns with pumpkin ice cream and drizzle with dark chocolate, but the demands of work left little time for churning batches of ice cream to get the right flavours. This was in all honesty a compromise, suggested by my colleague Deb, who, like me always wants her culinary endeavours to be a touch more perfect than perfection. I dread to think what might resolve from a work potluck dinner!
Profiteroles with Pumpkin Caramel Sauce
Profiteroles are made out of Choux pastry, which is far easier to make than you would think. They can be made in advance and frozen or made any size, filled with cream, drizzled with chocolate…the possibilities are endless.
For the Choux pastry:
170g/12 tbsp butter
200g/ 1 ½ cups flour
¼ tsp salt
5 large eggs
For the Pumpkin Caramel Sauce:
200g/1 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp rum
250ml/1 cup double cream, plus extra
125ml/ ½ cup whole milk
225g/ 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
Vanilla Ice cream, to serve
1/ For the choux pastry- place the butter and water in a medium saucepan and let the the butter melt over a gentle heat. Whilst this is happening sift together your flour and salt onto a large piece of parchment paper. Once the butter has melted, bring up to a rolling boil, tip in the flour and salt and using a wooden spoon beat like hell. The mixture will look lumpy to begin with but will eventually come together to make a smooth dough. Beat over the heat for a couple of minutes, to get rid of the floury taste. Then remove from the heat and press dough out on a plate to cool for about ten minutes.
2/ Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4. Once cool enough to handle, place mixture into a large bowl, and again using a wooden spoon add one egg at a time and beat until fully combined. At first it will look as though the mixture has separated but keep beating and it will come back smooth again. Once all of the eggs are incorporated you should have a dough that drops off the end of the spoon when lightly tapped (dropping consistency).
3. Using an ice cream scooper with a dropping mechanism or tablespoon measurements dollop mounds onto a non-stick baking tray at two inch intervals. Bake in the top half of the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.
4/ For the caramel sauce: place the sugar and water in a medium sized deep saucepan and over a gentle heat let the sugar dissolve. Once dissolved, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Brush away any sugar around the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Let boil until it turns a deep caramel colour, then turn the heat down and whisk in the cream (it will splutter so be careful). Add the milk and rum and continue whisking, allowing any solid caramel bits to melt over the heat. Add the pumpkin and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat.
5/ To serve the profiteroles, slice open the pastry shells and carefully remove the soft insides. Reheat in the oven to crispen (if not using immediately) and then place a scoop of ice cream between the two halves. Heat up the caramel (add extra cream if too thick) and drizzle over the tops. Come to think of it a few chopped toasted hazelnuts and shavings of dark chocolate wouldn’t go amiss either.