I have finally given in to the realization that Autumn is on the horizon. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so saying goodbye to the perfect summer weather is a bit traumatic. Here we all know that each day we get closer to fall, we are also closer to the rain.
But I know the inevitable is not worth fretting over, so I am embracing fall. And what better way to do it than with a delectable homemade pastry.
Eclairs always remind me of my paternal grandmother. I was five when she passed away, but I have vivid memories of her baking. To this day, she is the only person who has ever made rutabaga that I really liked. Her cornbread, banana pudding, and collards are also clear and warm memories for me. And I remember how excited I was to see eclairs arranged on a plate on the counter after church on Sunday. Heaven on earth in her little Memphis house.
These eclairs, though not the traditional kind of my childhood, were an instant hit! We all love pumpkin pie around here, and these taste like a pumpkin pie filled pastry with a delicious, creamy, spiced icing. Mmm, mmm.
Here's the how-to (recipe follows):
Make a batch of puff pastries. I used the puffs recipe from Betty Crocker---a tried and true classic. I used my cookie scoop to put dough on the pan, and it made about 24.
While puffs are baking and cooling, make the filling. Mix cream cheese, with pudding mix. Gradually add in pumpkin and spices until well incorporated.
Slice open each puff. Remove any extra dough from the inside so there is a nice hollow place for filling. I only had to remove extra dough from about 1/3 of mine.
Fill each pastry with about 1 tablespoon of pumpkin filling. Close the pastries and refrigerate.
Prepare frosting using cream cheese, butter, vanilla, milk, powdered sugar, and cinnamon. Spread frosting on each eclair, then dust with a sprinkling of ground cloves.
Puff Pastry Ingredients:
1 cup water
1/2 cup salted sweet cream butter
1 cup flour
Puff Pastry Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. In a 2 quart saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Stir in flour vigorously until dough easily forms a large ball. Remove from heat.
3. Add all 4 eggs at once, beating in well until smooth.
4. Drop by round tablespoons (or use medium cookie scoop), onto lined or sprayed cookie sheet.
5. Bake 20 minutes, or until puffed up and lightly browned.
Pumpkin Filling Ingredients:
4 oz cream cheese
1 large box vanilla instant pudding, dry
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pumpkin Filling Instructions:
1. Beat cream cheese and pudding mix until well incorporated.
2. Add pumpkin puree 2-3 tablespoons at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Beat in spices.
Spiced Fall Frosting Ingredients:
2 oz cream cheese
4 tablespoons softened salted sweet cream butter
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
ground cloves to dust
Spiced Fall Frosting Instructions:
1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add milk and continue beating until smooth.
2. Beat in powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. If icing is too thin or thick, add milk by the teaspoon (to thin), or powdered sugar by the tablespoon (to thicken).
To Assemble Eclairs:
1. Slice open each pastry. Remove any excess dough to create a hollow in the pastry (this won't be necessary for every pastry).
2. Fill one (hollow) half of each pastry with about 1 tablespoon of pumpkin filling. Close pastries and refrigerate.
3. Frost with Spiced Fall Frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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