Cream Puffs

Caramel Apple Cream Puffs

Somehow I’ve still never made a caramel apple. How is that possible? Caramel apple pie, yes. Salted Caramel Apple Marshmallows, sure. But, no caramel apples. I’m just ramping up my fall baking and treats, so maybe this is the year! Until then, these Caramel Apple Cream Puffs will have to tide us over. 🙂

Caramel Apple Cream Puffs
These Caramel Apple Cream Puffs are classic cream puffs, but I got creative with the filling and topping. Apple season is very inspiring. 🙂 I filled the cream puffs with caramel pastry cream and homemade chunky apple preserves. Then, because I always have to go a bit over-the-top, I also topped them with homemade salted caramel sauce. *swoon*

The choux pastry isn’t hard to make for the cream puffs, but it can be a little finicky. Check out the recipe notes for some helpful hints! I prefer using a slipat over lining my baking sheets with parchment paper, since they help reduce the amount of browning on the bottoms of the cream puffs, and I can reuse them. If you’re interested in getting one or two for yourself, you can find them [here].

You can use whatever kind of apples you prefer in the preserves. It is worth noting that some varieties of apples will break down more during the cooking process. I used a mix of granny smith and gala and really loved the texture. If you’re a fan of the apple preserves, they’re are also fabulous in my [Apple Turnovers]!

Caramel Apple Cream Puffs

As always, I use vanilla bean paste in this recipe. It’s soooo tasty without the vanilla bean price tag (and it pretty much stays good forever). If you prefer to substitute, you can use an equal measure of vanilla extract. If you’d like to get some vanilla bean paste and you can’t find it in your local grocery store (I never can), you can find some [here].

Caramel Apple Cream Puffs

You can always use store-bought salted caramel sauce, but this recipe is great! It gets used in the caramel pastry cream and drizzled on top of the whole shebang. While the pastry cream uses salted caramel sauce in the recipe, the end result isn’t at all salty, since I omit any additional salt in the recipe. (If you love these recipes as much as I  do, you’ll want to check out my Caramel Banana Cream Pie].)

Alas, no caramel apples, but I can’t really pretend to be unhappy when I have these babies in  my kitchen. I hope you love them as much as I do! <3

Other recipes you may like:

Dulce de Leche Cream Puffs

Salted Caramel Apple Marshmallows

Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Pumpkin Tiramisu Cream Puffs

Caramel Apple Cookies

Cookie Dough Cream Puffs

Root Beer Float Cream Puffs

Cream puff recipe adapted from Pierre Herme Pastries (link here). Salted caramel sauce adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod (link here). Caramel pastry cream recipe adapted from Food Network (link here). Preserves recipe adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery (link here).

Caramel Apple Cream Puffs

Caramel Apple Cream Puffs

Amee
These Caramel Apple Cream Puffs are a classic cream puff filled with caramel pastry cream and apple preserves, then drizzled with homemade salted caramel sauce!
Servings 24 cream puffs

Ingredients
  

Cream Puffs:

  • 125 grams water (½ cup + 1 Tbsp)
  • 125 grams whole milk (½ cup + 1 Tbsp)
  • 5 grams sugar (½ tsp)
  • 5 grams fleur de sel (or other sea salt) (½ tsp)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 140 grams flour (¾ cup + 2 Tbsp)
  • 4 eggs

Chunky Apple Preserves:

  • 5 apples, peeled, cored, and diced (see note)
  • ½ cup apple juice or cider
  • Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ Tbsp vanilla bean paste (see note)

Salted Caramel Sauce (see note):

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • ¾ tsp fleur de sel (or other sea salt)
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (see note)

Caramel Pastry Cream:

  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • cup salted caramel sauce (see notes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (see note)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced and softened

Instructions
 

For Cream Puffs (Choux Pastry):

  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet with parchment or silpats (see note) and set aside.
  • Combine water, milk, sugar, salt, and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. While still on the heat, add the flour. Quickly beat mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth and shiny. Mixture will pull away from the sides of the pan. (Do not underbeat or cream puffs may deflate later!)
  • Once mixture is thoroughly combined, scrape it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn the mixer on low speed. With mixer running, add eggs one a time, allowing each egg to incorporate and mixture to become smooth before adding the next.
  • Transfer batter to a pastry bag and cut a hole in the end (about 1/3" across). Pipe mounds of choux pastry at least 2" apart, each about 2" across and 3/4" tall (see notes). With those dimensions, you get about 24 cream puffs.
  • Place the baking sheet in the oven and turn the oven off. Bake 10 minutes with the oven off. Turn oven back on to 350 F and bake another 10 minutes. Then, turn the oven off again, leaving the cream puffs to finish baking for another 10 minutes (This is 30 minutes in the oven total). Resist the urge to open the oven until baking is complete, as this could deflate your cream puffs!
  • Once the cream puffs are baked, remove from the oven and poke a hole in the top of each with a toothpick. This will allow any residual steam to escape (otherwise, your cream puffs could deflate...sensing a trend here?). Allow cream puffs to cool completely.

For Preserves:

  • Combine apples, apple juice or cider, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stirring often, cook apples until barely tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Add sugar and vanilla bean paste (see note). Return to a simmer. Continuing to stir often, coo until apples are cooked down to a thick, chunky consistency, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat. Preserves can be made in advance. Store in the refrigerator if you plan to use them in the short term, or can them to store them long-term. Allow preserves to cool before using them in cream puffs.

For Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • Pour sugar into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk, and keep whisking, as sugar melts. It will clump and you'll think you're doing it all wrong. You're not. 🙂
  • Once sugar is melted, stop whisking and let sugar cook until it is deep amber in color. *Carefully* add butter (mixture will bubble!) and whisk to incorporate.
  • Remove mixture from the heat. Add cream (carefully!) and whisk until smooth. Add salt and vanilla bean paste (see note) and stir to incorporate.
  • Pour mixture into a bowl or jar to cool.

For Pastry Cream:

  • In a medium heatproof bowl, combine cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks. Whisk to combine (mixture will the thick).
  • In a medium saucepan, heat milk and salted caramel sauce over medium heat until caramel melts and milk begins to boil.
  • Slowly pour about one cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This will temper the eggs. 
  • Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and, stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thickened.
  • Once the mixture is thick, add the vanilla bean paste (see note) and butter and stir to incorporate. 
  • Scrape pastry cream into a bowl and cover with plastic, pressing the plastic to the surface of the cream so it doesn't form a skin. Chill completely before using.

For Assembly:

  • Split the cooled the cream puffs with a thin, serrated knife.
  • Stir chilled pastry cream and scrape into a pastry bag or zip-top bag. Pipe the pastry cream into the bottom of each of the cream puffs (or just dollop that goodness in with a spoon!).
  • Top the pastry cream with the apple preserves. I used about a tablespoon per cream puff.
  • Place the tops of the cream puffs on the apple preserves, then drizzle with salted caramel sauce.
    Enjoy!

Notes

Note on vanilla bean paste: It's no secret that I love vanilla bean paste. It's soooo tasty without the vanilla bean price tag (and it pretty much stays good forever). If you prefer to substitute, you could use 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. If you'd like to get some vanilla bean paste and you can't find it in your local grocery store (I never can), you can find some [here].
Note on silpats: I prefer using a slipat over lining my baking sheets with parchment paper, since they help reduce the amount of browning on the bottoms of the cream puffs, and I can reuse them. If you're interested in getting one or two for yourself, you can find them [here].
Notes on piping choux pastry: Choux mounds should be at least 2" apart on the baking sheet. If they're too close together, the steam that escapes while baking could cause them to deflate.
I give a suggested dimension for the mounds (2" across by 3/4" tall), but it's more important that they're all uniform in size rather than meeting these specific dimensions. Just be aware that bigger choux mounds will take more time to bake, and smaller ones will be done sooner.
When piping the choux, I found that if you hold the bag straight up and stay in the center as you squeeze the piping bag, you end up with a more uniform (round) shape.
Note on apples: You can use whatever kind of apples you prefer, just note that some varieties of apples will break down more during the cooking process and your preserves may be less chunky. I used a mix of granny smith and gala.
Note on salted caramel sauce: You can always use store-bought salted caramel sauce, but I like this recipe. 🙂
Note on pastry cream: While the pastry cream uses salted caramel sauce in the recipe, the end result isn't at all salty, since I omit any additional salt in the recipe. Add salt if you want another salty component in the cream puffs, but I was satisfied with the salted caramel drizzled over top. 🙂
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