The desire to experiment in the kitchen came early and organically to Robyn Andrea Burgess, owner of the conscious cooking recipe website, Runaway Apricot. Through her blog, Robyn creates recipes from local and seasonal produce to deliver simple and exquisite meals. She began cooking at age 8, was selling cakes to her classmates at age 13, and by 15 she was working on the line at one of Washington, D.C.’s top restaurants. Her undergraduate studies in Anthropology at Columbia aided her in the exploration of where food and culture intersect. A genuine desire to create recipes that embrace taste and texture is what fuels Robyn’s passion for cooking.
Today, Robyn is sharing with us her recipe for Whiskey Cream Puffs with Cinnamon Apple Caramel. Petite pillows of pastry are filled with a decadent whiskey cream filling and then drizzled with cinnamon apple caramel. Your family and friends will welcome their bite-sized shape and layers of honest-to-goodness flavor. When you combine homemade cream and caramel, plus a dash of whiskey, the results are going to be delightful! —Emerald
Why Robyn loves this recipe: Ahem, whiskey! Any fancy dinner party needs to end with a memorable bang, and whiskey is a wow-factor ingredient that will make guests prick up their ears. Folding in a good whiskey you wouldn’t mind sipping neat — I used Henry McKenna Single Barrel — the cream takes on the best of the drink’s woody vanilla flavors. Together with the fruity cinnamon apple caramel, this is the pastry form of the fall cocktail of my dreams. I also love how this dish is made by stirring and whisking the ingredients by hand, rather than relying upon powered kitchen tools. The skill and focus as the ingredients change color and texture reward a sense of accomplishment for making it the classic way. Assemble just before serving and encourage guests to eat with their hands, licking the sweet caramel from their fingertips as the party draws into the night.
Whiskey Cream Puffs with Cinnamon Apple Caramel
FOR THE PASTRY (pâte à choux)
– 12 tbsp unsalted butter
– 1/4 tsp kosher salt
– 2 cups flour
– 9 eggs, divided
FOR THE CINNAMON APPLE CARAMEL
– 1 cup apple cider
– 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
– 5 tbsp unsalted butter
– 6 tbsp heavy cream
– 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 tsp sea salt
FOR THE CREAM FILLING
– 2 cups heavy whipping cream
– 1/4 cup granulated sugar
– 4 tbsp whiskey
Make the pastry
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. In a 4-qt. saucepan, bring butter, salt and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, add flour all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a thick dough that pulls away from the side of the pan forms, about 2 minutes. Return the pan to heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until dough is lightly dried, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Beat in 8 eggs, one at a time, with a wooden spoon, making sure the mixture is even before adding the next. The dough will be thick, shiny and smooth.
Use a small cookie scoop, or two spoons, to scoop 1-inch pieces of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, setting pieces 1 inch apart. Dip scoop in water and shake off excess between pieces to help it release. Beat remaining egg with a pinch of salt and brush each piece. Bake until puffed and golden, about 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Make the cinnamon apple caramel
In a 4-qt. saucepan, bring apple cider to a boil over medium-high. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Reduce the heat and stir in the brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, and cinnamon. Continue to cook until the caramel thickens and becomes dark, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
Make the cream filling
Make the cream filling by whisking heavy whipping cream and sugar to nearly stiff peaks — be careful not to over-beat. Gently fold in whiskey with a rubber spatula.
Assemble the cream puffs just before serving. Use your hands to split each pastry, separating the top from the bottom. Use a pastry bag or spoon to fill the base of the pastry with cream. Reheat the cinnamon apple caramel to liquify, then dip to coat each top before placing on finished cream puff.
About Robyn: Robyn Andrea Burgess is a cook and recipe writer who believes in controlling our diet by cooking at home and using local and seasonal produce. Her website, Runaway Apricot, is filled with recipes that utilize wholesome ingredients that are satisfying and tasty. She has been featured on Yahoo Food, The Kitchn, Business Insider Australia, and Brit + Co. You can follow Robyn on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.