Pecan Praline Ice Cream Puffs – delicate pâte à choux pastry shells filled with luscious butter pecan gelato topped with a warm toasted pecan praline sauce. It’s an easy dessert that is rich, decadent and perfect for any special occasion. This amazing dessert should have a wonderful after dinner coffee so pairing the Praline Ice Cream Puffs with a delectable Praline Coffee, well why not!
There is one night in the year guaranteed we never eat out – Valentine’s Day. In all honesty we really don’t make a big fuss over Valentine’s Day (life with an engineer!) but I do try to make something special to toast the day. The Ice Cream Puffs are from an old recipe that recently bubbled back up in my memory. And since it’s one of those days on the calendar where sweets are abundant this dessert duet seems fitting for the day.
The Ice Cream Puffs are a fun twist on the classic cream puffs and they’re especially divine when paired with this delightful Praline Coffee!
Though this dessert course might sound like a laborious endeavor it really only involves cooking two items – the pâte à choux shells and the praline sauce. If you’ve never made pâte à choux don’t be intimidated by its name. It’s a basic pastry dough made with water, kosher salt, butter, flour and eggs. It’s not at all difficult and takes little time to make.
The praline sauce only takes about 20 minutes to pull together. It starts with staples and pantry ingredients you might already have on hand – butter, dark corn syrup, half and half, and brown sugar then it’s finished with a pure vanilla extract. The result is a rich, creamy and buttery sauce loaded with crunchy, toasted pecans.
The coffee is a simple blend of ingredients. It’s a wonderful recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, “Southern Cocktails” written by Denise Gee. It begins with a bold dark roast coffee with a splash of half and half, a bit of butter (think hot buttered rum!) and sweetened with a touch of Praline Liqueur.
And if you find you need to make things ahead of time, whip up the sauce and refrigerate it. Assemble the ice cream puffs with the gelato tucked inside them. Place them on a baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze. Then when you’re ready for dessert, pull the ice cream puffs out of the freezer, warm up the praline sauce and serve!
Who needs a box of chocolates when you can have the rich, luscious flavor of pralines – times two!
Pecan Praline Ice Cream Puffs with Praline Coffee
2 pints butter pecan gelato or ice cream – more if you like a lot of gelato (I use Talenti Southern Butter Pecan Gelato – it’s amazing!)
For the pastry shell – Pâte à Choux:
1 cup water
½ cup butter
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 extra-large eggs
In a heavy saucepan combine the water, butter and salt. Heat over low until the butter melts.
Raise the heat to medium. As soon as the liquid begins to boil add the flour and stir.
Continue stirring until the batter comes together in a ball and is smooth.
Transfer the dough to a stand mixer and beat on medium-low until the batter is velvety in texture.
Let the dough to cool to a lukewarm temperature. (You don’t want to add eggs into a hot dough!) Once the dough is cooled a bit, on medium-low speed add the eggs one at a time beating well after each one. You should have a soft, smooth dough.
Line baking sheets with Silpat liners or parchment paper. Drop or scoop the dough into rounds, about 1-3/4” – 2” each leaving 2” between pastries. A medium size ice cream scoop works really well for this.
Bake the pastry dough in a preheated 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350-degrees and bake for an additional 5 minutes. You can check to see if they pastry shells are done by removing one from the oven, if it holds its shape they’re finished baking. (I’ve never had an issue if you bake for the specified time, so don’t panic!) Carefully poke a small slit into the side of each pastry shell with a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape. This prevents them from becoming soggy on the inside while they cool. Remove the shells from the baking sheets and set them on a wire rack to cool.Makes about 16 pastry shells. You can freeze any extra shells for about two months.
While the pastry shells bake and cool make the Praline Sauce.
¼ cup butter
½ cup rough chopped, toasted pecans
1 cup half and half
¼ cup light or dark brown corn syrup (Dark corn syrup will give the sauce a deeper flavor and color, but if you only have light on hand that will work.)
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the toasted pecans and cook in the butter for 3-5 minutes. Now we’re toasting the pecans in some butter!
Pour in the half and half and corn syrup, stirring until mixed.
In a small bowl whisk the brown sugar and the cornstarch together until well blended. This prevents the cornstarch from lumping when its mixed into the hot liquid. Add the sugar mixture to the saucepan.
Cook the sauce stirring frequently until it is creamy and thick, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Serve warm. Refrigerate any extra sauce.
To assemble the cream puffs:
Using a serrated knife cut the tops off the pastry shells. Using your fingers, gently remove any loose pastry to create a cavity for the gelato.
Fill each pastry shell with one large scoop of gelato.
Place the top back on the pastry shell covering the gelato. Spoon the warm praline sauce over each ice cream puff. Serve immediately! The recipe for the ice cream puffs will feed 8 with two ice cream puffs per person.
¾ cup hot, dark roast coffee
3 tablespoons half and half
½ tablespoon butter
¼ cup Praline liqueur
Mix the coffee and the half and half together.
Add the butter and stir until melted.
Pour in the Praline liqueur. Praline liqueur is very sweet, I reduced the amount from the original recipe. But if you want to add more, feel free – just keep the “sweet factor” in mind! Serve in small coffee cups, about 4-ounces. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.
Makes 2-3 servings