These salted caramel pumpkin eclairs make the most stunning fall dessert with a light pumpkin mousse filling and addicting salted caramel glaze. This post is sponsored by Calphalon. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Beyond Sweet and Savory possible.
With Thanksgiving approaching, my head is swimming with ideas for the dinner menu. This year, I’m bringing a French twist to the dessert portion to shake things up and couldn’t be more excited to partner with Calphalon to share a recipe for these irresistible salted caramel pumpkin eclairs. Bite into these decadent eclairs for a light pumpkin mousse center topped with an addicting salted caramel glaze.
A classic eclair consists of a crispy golden shell of pâte à choux, a rich cream filling, and a beautiful, glistening glaze that goes on top. For this recipe, I highly recommend making the pumpkin mousse and salted caramel the day before and baking the eclair shells and making the glaze the day of.
Tips for making choux pastry
Choux pastry dough is a classic French pastry that starts on the stove top then finished baking in the oven. The dough is made by cooking flour, butter, and water together, and then beating eggs into the mixture. The key to getting the perfect eclairs is paying attention to the consistency of your dough while you’re beating in the eggs. I start off with four whisked medium eggs. Only add as much as you need to create a shiny, thick, and smooth dough with a pipeable consistency. To test if you have the right consistency, dip the beater into your batter and look for the batter to form a 'v' shape at the end of the beater and eventually break off. If the batter is too stiff and breaks off quickly, you may need to add another beaten egg. After mixing in the extra egg, test the consistency again.
How to pipe the choux pastry
To pipe out the dough, I used a pastry bag fitted with a ¾ inch plain tip. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a large zip lock bag. Transfer the dough inside, push it to one corner, and then snip off about a quarter-inch from the corner. Your piping will be less precise using this method, but eclairs are forgiving and precision is not a critical factor for success. If you mess up during the piping process, you can use an offset spatula and scrape the dough back into your piping bag and try again. Any bumps or rough edges can be smoothed out with a wet finger tip.
I love using my Calphalon Premier Countertop Safe Bakeware cookie sheet for piping the choux pastry. It has a large surface area for piping eclairs and heats evenly up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit for consistent results. I’ve used this cookie sheet for anything from cream puffs, cookies, and mini galettes, to hand pies. With the heat of the oven, the steam from the butter and eggs lift the pastry as it evaporates, puffing it up into a thin shell with a hollow middle. When it comes to baking choux pastry, do not open the oven while the eclairs are baking or the eclair shells won’t rise properly due to the sudden change in temperature.
Since discovering Calphalon bakeware over a decade ago, I love the high quality of their products. Recently, Calphalon came out with a brand new design, bakeware with heat-resistant, no-slip silicone feet that’s safe to place directly on countertops straight out of the oven. This innovative design protects counters from surface and accidental burns while eliminating the need for trivets or pot holders.
You can see how nicely these eclair shells puffed up! Once they’re baked to golden perfection, remove them from the oven and use a toothpick or skewer and poke a small hole in the end of each shell to let the steam escape which prevents them from collapsing. Baked eclairs will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 24 hours. You can also wrap unfilled eclairs airtight and freeze them up to a month. When ready to use, simply re-crisp them directly from the freezer in a 400 degree F oven for about 10 minutes and then let them cool before filling.
How to make the pumpkin mousse
Preparing the pumpkin mousse the day before will make life a lot easier! You can roast our own pumpkin or use canned pumpkin. Making the pumpkin mousse is similar to making an ice cream base. The only difference between the two is that flour and gelatin help thicken the mousse while whipped mascarpone makes it extra light and airy!
How to make the salted caramel glaze
The salted caramel glaze has two components, salted caramel and powdered sugar. I always keep a jar of my go to salted caramel recipe in the fridge. It’s an easy recipe of brown sugar, water, heavy cream, and salt. Light brown sugar and water are heated on the stove until completely melted and thickened, then heavy cream and salt are whisked in until smooth. Simply reheat it for 15-20 seconds in the microwave and it will be ready in less than a minute. On the day of, the glaze is made by combining salted caramel and powdered sugar in a 1:2 ratio.
How to assemble the eclairs
Before you assemble the eclairs, get all your components ready--eclair shells, pumpkin mousse, and salted caramel glaze. I splitted the shells with a serrated knife and used an offset spatula to spread the glaze on the top half. With the bottom half, I piped the mousse right over it and put the glazed top right over the mousse.
These salted caramel pumpkin eclairs are best eaten the day they’re filled. The pastry starts to soften as soon as the éclair is filled with the pumpkin mousse. If you don’t serve the pastries right away, you can refrigerate them for 6 hours before serving. We love to eat them cold!
While this recipe is a labor of love, the result is greater than the sums of its parts. Choux pastry might seem intimidating, but it is much more approachable than you think. In my book, eclairs are easier than pies! You can trust me on this one. I recently made an apple pie that took a whole day and I can easy whip up three batches of eclairs in that same amount of time! These salted caramel eclairs make the most stunning fall desserts with a light pumpkin mousse filling and addicting salted caramel glaze. They are so delicious, you and your family won’t be able to stop at just one eclair!
Salted caramel pumpkin eclairs
- 4 medium egg yolks
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 2 gelatin sheets (platinum strength), cut into 1 inch strips
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 medium eggs + 1 extra, whisked
- 1 cup of water
Salted caramel glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup salted caramel (or store bought dulce de leche)
- To make the pumpkin mousse, whisk egg yolks, sugar, flour and pumpkin puree in a large bowl until well combined.
- Place cream, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring just to the boil and remove immediately from the heat. Pour over pumpkin mixture, whisking constantly until combined.
- Return the pumpkin mixture to pan and cook over low heat.
- Soak gelatin leaves in cold water for 5 minutes to soften.
- Cook pastry cream, stirring continuously, for 8-10 minutes or until it thickens.
- Squeeze excess water from gelatin and whisk into pastry cream until melted.
- Transfer to a small bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
- In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the pumpkin mousse and mascarpone and beat on medium speed until well combined. Transfer the pumpkin mousse to a lidded container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- To make the choux pastry, bring the butter, sugar, salt and water to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon.
- As soon as it comes to a boil, add the flour, stirring vigorously, until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 3 minutes, stirring the dough occasionally.
- Transfer the dough to a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on medium-low speed until the dough is just warm to the touch. The outside of the bowl should also be just slightly warm to the touch.
- Whisk 4 eggs together in a small bowl. With the mixer on medium-low, add the eggs to the dough in four separate additions. As each egg is worked in, the dough will at first become stringy and goopy, then will form back together into a soft dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed between each addition.
- After the four additions, check the dough before adding the extra egg. Look for soft, creamy-colored, and very smooth dough. It should hold its shape when scooped. If you scoop up a little bit with your beater and let it slide back into the bowl, it should leave behind a little "V" of dough at the end of the beater. Add the fifth egg, or just half of it if needed.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Transfer the choux pastry to a pastry bag fitted with a ¾ inch round tip. On two baking sheets lined with parchment paper, pipe the dough into 4 ½-inch-by-¾-inch lengths about 2 inches apart. With a wetted fingertip, smooth out any bumps or rough edges. You'll get anywhere from 16-20 eclairs depending on how you pipe them.
- Bake until éclairs are deep golden brown and puffed, about 22-25 minutes.
- Remove the eclairs from the oven and poke each éclair on either end with a toothpick to allow some steam to release. Return the puffs to the oven and prop the door open a crack with a wooden spoon. Allow the puffs to dry out in the oven, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.
Salted caramel glaze
- While the eclair shells are cooling, prepare the salted caramel glaze. In a medium bowl, add powdered sugar and salted caramel and whisk until combined and smooth.
- When ready to assemble, slice the top third off each éclair and pipe the bottoms with pumpkin mousse. Use an offset spatula and spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs. Set the glazed tops directly on the filled bottoms. Serve immediately.