Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Profiteroles with Cranberry Caramel Sauce and Maple Spiced Pecans

After holding tryouts for Thanksgiving dessert, I of course ended up going in a completely different direction than any of the contestants. Let me explain how this happened. Kurt claims to not have much of a sweet tooth, but there are three similar sweets that he really likes. Those are Boston cream pie, eclairs, and profiteroles. I’d made the first two at different times in the past, but I’d never made profiteroles even though we always order it when we see it on a restaurant dessert menu. I had various ideas about how to change up the classic components of a profiterole to make it a more seasonal, Thanksgiving kind of dessert, and Kurt voted down almost all of them. He insisted plain, vanilla ice cream and standard chocolate sauce was the only way to go. There would be no pumpkin or cinnamon ice cream or spiced pate a choux or nutmeg dusting on top or any such thing. But, there was a Cranberry Caramel Sauce that I absolutely had to try. It’s from the October/November issue of Garden and Gun, and it belongs with a Pumpkin Bread Pudding recipe from Austin’s own Jodi Elliott of Foreign and Domestic. So long as the ice cream remained nothing but vanilla and the pastry puffs weren’t messed up with any spices, Kurt was willing to try a sauce other than chocolate. Then, I went ahead and made the Maple Spiced Nuts from the bread pudding recipe as well. One last, little change from the classic preparation wouldn't hurt.

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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23 comments:

  1. Lisa, these are gorgeous!! It's tough to change a beloved classic but you did a fabulous job.

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  2. Gorgeous! Those profiteroles are so beautiful and tempting. What a fabulous dessert.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. Ok these look amazing and so festive! I was just watching Extra Virgin (my new favorite show) and they were making profiteroles and I was surprised at how easy they seemed. The color of that cranberry sauce is just gorgeous.

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  4. Heavenly Lisa, simply heavenly!

    Hope you and yours had a hearty and glorious Thanksgiving:)

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  5. These are beautiful and I am sure he was pleased. Otherwise he should be traded in. LOL.

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  6. Yum! They look awesome, and yes, the cranberry sauce sure adds lots of flavor and color to the profiteroles.
    Beautiful Lisa!
    Have a great week ahead :)

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  7. So beautiful Lisa. They look too good to eat! Loving the flavour combo too :)

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  8. What stunning desserts :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  9. What a refreshing dessert. It's so lovely to see something a little different for Thanksgiving dinner. The flavours in this must have been wonderful xx

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  10. A fantastic dessert! Really love the cranberry caramel sauce.

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  11. Beautiful and so appropriately festive! Kurt cracks me up with his absolutes. I think all of the versions you contemplated sound terrific. How could a little nutmeg hurt anything?

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  12. My mother's favorite dessert is "cream puffs" stuffed with vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate syrup. Great minds love the same dessert! Your holiday version with cranberry caramel sauce sounds just divine! What a tempting Thanksgiving dessert!

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  13. Lisa, if Phil sees this post he will NOT rest until I make profiteroles. Aux chocolat undoubtdely is his favorite type, but I bet he would fall for this one too!

    I've been neglecting this gastronomical dream of his, but - his Bday is next month and I might just gather my courage and go for it...

    great post, loved the twisted way to get to the dessert... Kurt is a great guy!

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  14. impressive profiteroles! i'm always more excited about the filling than the profiteroles themselves, and you haven't disappointed me! :)

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  15. Lisa, what a super idea for the holidays! Ina's puffs always turn out perfectly and the dessert is so elegant. Can't wait to try the cranberry twist.

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  16. These would be the perfect holiday dessert!
    And I've been loading up on cranberries and freezing them to have year round, so this is another wonderful use for the tiny fruit.

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  17. Delicious profiteroles! The cranberry sauce looks awesome. Sweet and tangy. Great holiday dessert. Beautiful pictures!

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  18. Lisa - this dessert is the bees knees as we say back home :-) Such a seasonal recipe. I love the use of vanilla ice cream instead of cream too :-)

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  19. You definitely made the right call with these profiteroles. Every aspect of them looks amazing!

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  20. Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in! Or just make it and watch all of the fearful folks gobble it up. Glad you went for it! The cranberry caramel sauce sounds like one to use for a lot of different things.

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  21. Beautiful! And isn't it funny that profiteroles are only one of 3 desserts my utterly sweet toothless son likes. I love your seasonal twist...

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