One fond Fall memory I have of growing up in Minnesota is going to a local apple farm to get the chestnut crabapples when they were in season. The season didn’t last long – a couple of weeks at most, as I recall, so you had to get them while they were there to get. But there was nothing like biting into those little apples no bigger than the palm of your hand – that burst of tart and sweet at the same time – it makes my mouth still water just to think about it.
This year, I asked my sister who still lives there if she could pick some up and send a few down to Texas. Which she did, and you know what? They still tasted exactly as I remember, meaning, as delicious as ever!
So I thought they would make a great flavor to have in a pastry cream, and perfect to fill in a profiterole. Add in a little caramel and voila! Caramel apple profiteroles.
Full disclosure, I hadn’t made pate choux before, so compared quite a few recipes, watched a few videos of different people making it, and ended up relying mostly on the recipes and instructions from my William & Suzue Curley Patisserie book, as well as Molly Wilkinson’s French Pastry Made Simple, which I had recently acquired to up my pastry game a little! And her book is so great for the home baker like me – she explains everything so clearly and in such detail – I would highly recommend getting yourself a copy if you want to do more pastry making! I used her recipe as the base for my pastry cream as well.
I opted to stir in my eggs by hand, figured the little bit of work out wouldn’t hurt!
Once you’ve got the pastry pulled together, you want to use a piping bag to make your profiteroles. I like to use a tall glass, turn the piping tip up as I fill it. Make sure you pipe from a perpendicular position to get more consistent pastry mounds.
Where you’ve got tips and bumps from piping, just tap them down with a dampened finger before baking.
They should be a nice golden brown when they come out of the oven, and feel light from being hollow inside.
Caramel Apple Profiteroles
- 1/2 c. water
- 1/2 whole milk
- 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, (cube while cold, let sit until room temp)
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 3-5 large eggs
- Batch of apple pastry cream
- Batch of crab apple sauce
- Caramel sauce for dipping the tops in
- Powder sugar, for dusting
DirectionsPreheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift the flour and the salt together and set aside. Heat the water, milk, butter and sugar in a saucepan on the stove. Bring it to a boil, removing it from the heat as soon as it boils and adding the flour/salt.
Add the flour all at once, stirring it with a strong spatula or wooden spoon to bring the mixture all together into a ball. Return to the heat and stir for another 30 seconds to 1 minute until the dough leaves the side of the pan, and a slight film covers the bottom of the pan.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl (if stirring by hand or using a hand mixer), or the bowl of a stand mixer (using the paddle attachment). Continue to stir or mix the dough for a few minutes on low speed until it’s no longer steaming.
Add the eggs one at a time, stirring or mixing them in completely before adding the next one. Add at least 3 eggs, then test whether you need more by taking your wooden spoon and scooping up a large amount of dough, then holding it on its side to let the dough drop back into the bowl. If it’s the right texture, the dough will drop in a “V” shape off the spoon, and be silky smooth in texture.
Add more egg as needed (very gradually!) until you get the desired texture (I needed just under 4 eggs for the size of my eggs and kitchen conditions).
Once fully incorporated and you’ve tested your dough for the “V” shape drop, it’s ready to put into a piping bag and pipe. Fill a pastry bag with the pate choux dough; the pastry bag should be fitted with a 12-mm round piping tip.
Pipe onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in 2-inch circles that stand about 1-inch high. Keep each mount at least an inch apart. Hold your piping bag straight up and perpendicular to the baking sheet, piping out the dough in one big round mound, before “swirling around” the top to release the bag. You will go around after and tap down any tips with a dampened finger at the end.
To get your profiteroles a consistent size, you may draw circles or mark the bottom of the parchment before you begin. (And don’t forget the trick of piping a small bit of dough in the bottom of opposite corners before putting the parchment on the baking sheet so it doesn’t shift around.)
Bake one pan at a time for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the profiteroles. Make sure you do not open the oven for at least 30 minutes after putting it in, as the steam will leave the pastry and the pastry will collapse if you do.
Once they have taken on a deep golden brown color, remove from the oven and let cool completely on a rack before slicing in half so they can be filled with apple pastry cream, and topped with caramel sauce and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
Instead of adding vanilla as a flavoring for my pastry cream, I added apple fruit powder, so I could get a nice strong flavor of apple throughout the cream. I bought mine at Spice Mountain, but there are other online sources for fruit powders.
The pastry cream actually comes together rather quickly, then needs to be put into the fridge to cool for an hour before adding in the apple sauce to be piped.
Make sure you cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap before putting it in the fridge to cool.
Add a cup (or more or less, depending on your taste!) of the apple sauce to the pastry cream and put it in a piping bag with a largish round tip to get ready for piping.
Apple Pastry Cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 c. and 2 tsp. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 c. and 1/4 c. whole milk
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, (cubed while cold, let sit to room temp)
- 1 Tbsp. apple fruit powder
DirectionsIn a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar for 30 seconds; the mixture should lighten in color as you whisk.
Then carefully whisk in the flour, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup of milk, and set aside.
Combine the remaining 1 cup of milk, butter, remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar, and the apple fruit powder in a medium saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it slowly comes to a simmer.
When it just comes to a simmer turn off the heat. While whisking, add this to the egg yolk mixture. Once incorporated, return the whole mixture back into the saucepan and bring it back to a boil, whisking while it heats. Once it comes to a boil, whisk for another 30 seconds before taking it off the heat.
The cream should be smooth and thick like a pudding. You could put it through a sieve if you want it especially smooth. Pour it into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap is up against the surface of the cream so that it doesn’t form a skin.
Chill for an hour, until cold. Whisk the cream again to loosen it up, and add a up of crab apple sauce to the cream and mix until incorporated. Fill in a piping bag with a large round tip, so the cream and apple will go through the tip. Pipe into your cream puffs when you are ready to assemble.
Making the crab apple sauce is as easy as it gets – just slice up into very small pieces (for getting through a largish piping tip), and mix all the ingredients together, bringing the liquids to a boil, then simmering until it reaches the consistency you like.
Chestnut Crab Apple Sauce
- 2 lbs. apples
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 c. apple cider or juice
- 1/4 c. apple brandy
- 5 tsp. brown sugar, packed (more or less to taste, depending on apple tartness)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon (or more, to taste)
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
DirectionsCore apples and chop into small pieces (quite small pieces, if you want them to be able to go through a piping tip). Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples and mix well. Add to saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the apples in the saucepan and mix well. Bring the liquids to a boil, then turn down and simmer on low, stirring occasionally.
For chunky applesauce (apples are soft, but you can still the apples, they’re not mush), simmer for 45 minutes. (If you want and even chunkier apple filling like for a pie, simmer for only about 20-30 minutes. For even softer applesauce, simmer longer than 45 minutes).
Let the apple sauce cool and it’s ready to eat as-is, or mix with pastry cream.
To assemble the finished profiteroles, get all your ingredients together, including a favorite caramel sauce – I used one I’ve made before for my German chocolate tartlets (recipe here).
Cut your cooled profiteroles in half, and fill them with the apple pastry cream. I was pretty generous – so generous I ended up having to eat a couple of them with a fork! But it’s so tasty, I couldn’t get enough of it.
I just took the tops and dipped them upside down in my caramel, then placed them on top of the profiteroles.
I just finished them off with a dusting of powdered sugar to alleviate the fact that they’re rather quite “brown” in color. But taste delicious, nonetheless!
So that’s it – there’s a few steps, a few different ingredients to make to bring them all together. But they make a delicious fall treat to have with a spiced tea!