There is something very indulgent about profiteroles – is it the fancy name, unlike a lot of other puddings? Is it the fact they’re made out of ‘choux’ pastry (another fancy name)? Or is it because these airy fluffy puffs are always filled with some sort of a creamy goodness? Whatever it is, we all must admit they’re always hard to resist. Especially when they’re full of cheesecake. And not just any cheesecake but pumpkin cheesecake! I only have one word for you: Lush.
With autumn and Halloween fast approaching, pumpkin just seems like the obvious choice. It’s sweet, it tastes like the weather is getting colder and the leaves are turning golden, and it’s a good excuse to carve a few pumpkin lanterns for decorations – while using the actual fruit for the filling.
I do have to warn you – you will probably not get perfect profiteroles from the first time if you haven’t made them before. My first ones didn’t stay in the oven long enough (so they were softer) and also looked more like Papa Smurf or mushrooms than profiteroles. We still ate them but it took a second go at choux pastry to perfect them. Also, I wouldn’t recommend involving tiny humans with clumsy hands. This would be a recipe to work on after the kids have gone to bed. Works even better with a glass of wine to accompany you at the stove. If you do have time to spare, you can even decorate them like spooky eye-balls for a Halloween treat using edible felt tip pens or royal icing. I was too eager to eat mine so this idea never materialized but Pinterest has some good examples in store.
Here is what you will need:
For the choux pastry (makes around 40 profiteroles)
100g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
150g plain flour, sifted
For the pumpkin cheesecake filling
230g full fat Philadelphia cream cheese
½ cup of sugar
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree*
1tsp ground allspice (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg)
300ml double cream, whipped
100-150g white chocolate for covering or half and half with milk chocolate (like in my case)
Tools you’ll need
2 piping bags
Cupcake filler nozzle or a chop stick
First of all, let me start with the fact that I usually make my own pumpkin puree (hence the *). Not only do I like the taste better but it’s also 100% sugar and preservative free which is much better for you. Also, it leaves you with some more pumpkin for a wonderfully creamy pumpkin soup which hits the spot right now with the temperatures slowly dropping. To make your pumpkin puree roast about 400g of pumpkin under tinfoil in the oven at around 220-230 degrees Celsius for about an hour or until soft. Then remove the skin and whizz using a hand blender until creamy and smooth.
To make the pastry, melt the butter with the water, milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan on medium to low heat. Once melted, bring to the boil then lower the heat a little and add the sifted flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until it forms a paste and comes clean off the sides of the pan. Leave to cool for about 5-10 minutes. At this point preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. When it’s cooled, transfer to a stand mixer or prepare your hand mixer. Beat on a slow speed for about a minute, then add eggs one at a time by cracking them in a bowl first then sliding into the pastry while still beating. The pastry will be rather runny at this point – don’t expect a firm dough which you can form by hand. Transfer it to a piping bag with a round nozzle and pipe blobs with a diameter of around 3cms on a baking tin lined with greaseproof parchment. Leave around 2cm between the blobs as they will puff up while baking, and using some water to wet your finger, smooth the blobs on the top (water will prevent sticking).
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. You can also find a good video tutorial for the actual profiteroles here – just ignore the filling she’s using but it shows you all the steps for the choux pastry.
While the profiteroles are in the oven, prepare the filling. Whisk the cream in a separate bowl till it forms soft peaks. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar, spices and cream cheese until smooth. Then gently fold the whipped cream in using a spatula and pop in the fridge.
Let the profiteroles cool down completely, then using a piping bag and the cupcake filler nozzle, fill them with the cheesecake goodness from the bottom. If you don’t have the special nozzle, use a chop stick to poke a small hole then cut the piping bag’s end and fill. Melt white chocolate over a bain-marie or in the microwave (be very careful not to burn it – do it in 15 second intervals max, mixing well between them) then dimply dip the tops of the profiteroles and pop in the fridge for the chocolate to set. Enjoy!