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Sunday, October 27, 2013
Puff Pastry Pumpkins
If you're looking for a super cute little treat for the impending "harvest" holidays, look no further. These are easy to make since they use frozen puff pastry from your local grocery store. I love puff pastry. There's something about that puffed up, crispy, buttery pastry that just knocks my socks off. In this case, they have a hint of fall wrapped up in them with pumpkin pie spice and a little pumpkin or sweet potato.
Thaw out the puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator and then lay it out on a lightly floured counter. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using a pumpkin cookie cutter, cut out as many pumpkins as you can. A medium sized cutter is best. Too small and they won't puff right. Too big and they'll have ungainly seams in the middle from where the dough is folded. Place the cut outs on a sheet pan lined with parchment.
Cutting lines into the face of the pumpkin is what gives them that ribbed pumpkin look. Be careful, though. Here, I used a paring knife. See how the knife dragged through the dough? Not good. Additionally, I didn't cut the dough deeply enough. Also not good.
Here's what this poor cutting job turned out like... and this was the good one of the batch. So how do you get good cuts?
Use a razor! Here you can see how the dough is sharply cut. What you can't see is that I cut much more deeply that I did in the example above, about two thirds of the way through the dough. Be careful not to cut completely through, but go deep. If you're still having problems getting the dough to cut nicely, your dough has probably warmed up too much. Put the pan in the refrigerator for thirty minutes and then try cutting again.
Mix together the coating ingredients and use a pastry brush to apply. You can use either pumpkin or sweet potato puree. It only takes one tablespoon of puree per batch of eighteen cut outs. You can steal this amount from your pie or other holiday recipe without making much of an issue in most cases. Here, I used some homemade sweet potato puree that I had made for my baby.
Brush the top of each cut out with some of the coating. I think it looks best not to coat the stem of the cut out... it gives a little contrast to the finished product that I like.
Sprinkle each one with a bit of granulated sugar. You can forgo this part and make savory puffs, but - to be honest - the finished product doesn't have an overwhelming flavor (coating them too thickly keeps them from puffing and crisping properly) and that sweet touch on the tongue helps to bring out the flavor of the puree and spices.
Bake the puffs in a 400 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Be careful not to take them out of the oven too early or the texture of the finished product once they are cool will be disappointing. As soon as they come out of the oven, transfer them to a cooling rack so that they can fully crisp. Hey! Don't waste those scraps! I threw them on a separate sheet and sprinkled sugar on them. They were tasty! Don't forget to take the cooks commission!
Puff Pastry Pumpkins
Yield: 18 puffs
1 box of frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 TBS melted butter
1 TBS pumpkin or sweet potato puree
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
granulated sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut out pumpkin shapes from the puff pastry using a 2 1/2 inch (approximately) cookie cutter. Place cut outs on a parchment lined baking sheet. Score each cut out with a razor to make the ribs of the pumpkin. Cut about two thirds of the way through the dough. If the dough is not cutting well despite using a very sharp implement, chill the dough for thirty minutes.
Mix together the butter, puree, and pumpkin pie spice. You can make your own pumpkin pie spice if necessary by mixing 3 TBS ground cinnamon, 3 tsp ground nutmeg, 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger, and 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves. Brush each cut out with the coating. Lastly, sprinkle each cut out with sugar. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes, until the pastry s puffed and nicely golden. Be sure not to under bake to insure your cooled pumpkins will be flaky and crispy. Transfer pumpkins to a cooking rack as soon as they come out of the oven. They can be stored in an air tight container for a few days, but they taste best fresh.