This dessert was made up of four parts, so I started by making the vanilla ice cream in advance to have one part completed and ready. I used the vanilla ice cream recipe from Eggs by Michel Roux which is nicely rich with six egg yolks and perfumed with seeds from a vanilla pod. Next, I made the puffs according to Ina Garten’s recipe in Barefoot in Paris. I like that she suggests pulsing the eggs into the pastry dough in a food processor rather than stirring and stirring by hand. That recipe is also available online. The great thing about choux pastry puffs is that you can refrigerate them or even freeze them, and then just re-warm them for a few minutes in the oven before serving. The tops will re-crisp and the airy insides will be as puffy as when they first came out of the oven. The third part of the dessert was the cranberry caramel sauce which was a simple matter of cooking sugar, water, and corn syrup until amber and then adding cranberries and pure cranberry juice. The berries and juice were stirred into the caramel and the mixture was brought back to a boil until the cranberries had all popped. Off the heat, salt and vanilla were added. After letting the sauce cool a bit, it was pureed in a blender, and then I strained it before letting it completely cool. Last but not least, the pecans were tossed with maple syrup, corn syrup, sugar, salt, and a mix of cumin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cayenne. The nuts were baked until toasted through and allowed to cool before I chopped them.
The hint of spiciness and bit of salt in the nuts was perfect with the tart and sweet sauce. And, I think plain vanilla ice cream was the way to go here since it allowed the flavors in the toppings to shine. In the end, we were both completely happy with these changes to the traditional profiterole for Thanksgiving dessert, but I don’t think I’d get away with messing with the classic eclair.
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