Yes, like Bruce Springsteen, this Saint Honoré was born in the USA !!! It is French in spirit and appearance, but its heart is 100% American: pumpkin !!! Have I gone crazy?? No, it is just that thanks to the generosity of my readers and the judges, here I am, in Challenge #8, of Project Foodblog, organized by Foodbuzz!
Our challenge? To create a sweet or savory baked good, featuring pumpkin…for instance, one that would typically be on display, proudly, in the shop window of a “pâtisserie”…
My personal challenge? To see where I could go…I think this is the great part of this contest,  to challenge ourselves!!! 
For anyone that has the slightest idea of baking, it becomes evident that the Saint Honoré is not an easy task…I had never made a Saint Honoré in my whole life!!! but, what the heck…I decided to take my chances!
Now, basic question…what is a St Honoré????!!! Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answer!! Before my coming to France, I completely ignored the existence of this dessert (and I managed to live quite happily without it ;D
Well…this “ode to French Pâtisserie” was apparently created in 1863, by Auguste Julien, in his pastry shop Chiboust, near rue St Honoré.
Basically, it consists of cream puffs, filled with pastry cream, drizzled with caramel….but it is not as simple as that! First, as a base, there is a layer of puff pastry…then a ring of “choux” paste that serves as a “pedestal” for the choux, then a generous layer of pastry cream….and finally, a decoration (with the pastry tip made and called “ad hoc”) with Chiboust cream ….!!
Of course, I decided to simplify….not only to follow the guidelines of the contest, but because we can make life less complicated!! The pumpkin question was a real puzzle to me...neither in France nor in Argentina is pumpkin very popular, except for soups or purée….and of course, pumpkin in cans is something I have never seen or tasted….so more internet research and test and trial in my tiny kitchen….

I took this photo I found in Philippe Conticini‘s book as a source of inspiration…but the recipe is not his…the recipe is the result of my musings and experimention!

Now, one thing has to be said in favor of this cake…it’s “royal“, it’s the Queen of French cakes!…it sets itself out of the rest, because in spite of its apparent simplicity, it has “class“…. You should have heard my husband: “Wow…Cristina…frankly…!” and he stopped there, speechless in awe, in the reflection of caramel, that shone like crystals in a chandelier…. You should have heard my daughters: “Mummy…are you making this cake for our birthdays?” “A piece with three puffs for me!”, said my son…and then the girls shrieking in unison: “No, it’s two puffs for everyone…” and the “crunch, crunch” of caramel breaking and the cream oozing…

And there I understood….that the time spent making it had been time well spent !! so, I invite you to make it…for an occasion…for that day when you really want to show your love to someone…love translated in flour, sugar and cream…love made possible thanks to the  magic power of skillful baking hands…almost like a fairy! 
A Saint-Honoré…a cake for one special occasion,  remembered a life-time!!! 

Here are some photos, of the process…
I didn’t make the pastry puff myself….then yes! I caramelized it!!!
My notes while experimenting with quantities, and ingredients!
Once the puff pastry is caramelized, we cut it to the desired shape…
Choux puffs!! right from the oven…..
First, the pumpkin/mascarpone cream…
Then, we decorate with a mix of cream/mascarpone, using the St Honoré piping tip…Hold your breath!!!
Got some caramelized puff pastry left? Cut it in rectangles and make a “Napoleon”
Pumpkin/Mascarpone Napoleon (Millefeuillle)
Another French Classic!!!

If you loved this entry, remember to vote for me, as from Monday 29th !!!

For the recipe, see below…

To make this Saint Honoré Cake, you will need:

For the puff pastry
* puff pastry (you can buy the frozen one at any store), 250gr * icing sugar

With a rolling pin, on a floured top, roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle or circle bigger than the actual mold you intend to use. It should be 4/5 mm high. Place it on a baking tray, sprinkled with icy water and refrigerate at least 30′.
Pre-heat oven 180°C. Place some parchment paper on the dough, and a cake rack on top. We do not want this dough to grow…it should remain as thin as possible! Bake for 20′. Remove from oven. Let it regain room temperature. Then sprinkle with icing sugar. Bake in the oven on grill (250°C) just a few minutes till it caramelizes. 

For the choux (cream puffs)
*water, 125gr *milk, 125gr * butter, 100gr * salt & sugar, one pinch each * all-purpose flour, 200gr *eggs, 5

Put the water and milk in a saucepan, together with the butter, cut in pieces. Heat. When it is about to boil, remove from the heat. Fold in all the flour at a time. Combine well using a wooden spatula until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan. If you have a gas stove, put the gas in minimum, and continue stirring for 2′…The idea is that you have to dry this dough very well. Put the dough in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Once it is cool, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well till since egg is incorporated. Preheat oven 180°C. Put the dough in a piping bag, with tip 10mm. On a baking tray with a Silpat, pipe 3mm balls, as you see in my photo. A peak will be formed. With a finger soaked in water, flatten this peak. Bake 20/25 ‘ till golden. Remove from the oven. Let cool. On another baking tray with Silpat, make a ring a 20cm in diameter, and 3 cm wide (this is where the cream puffs will stand) Bake together with choux puffs.

For the Pumpkin Cream
* homemade pumpkin puree, 4oogr  *mascarpone cheese, 100gr * gelatin in powder, 7gr * spices (nutmeg, orange zest, ground cinnamon & ginger) to taste *sugar, 3 tbsp (or to taste)
Cut the pumpkin in pieces and put it on a baking tray (with aluminum foil) and bake till pumpkin is tender. Purée the pumpkin in a mixer with the sugar. Add the spices. (here I used a ready-made mixture for “pain d’épice”) Hydrate the gelatin with 20gr of cold water. let it stand 5′. Then microwave 5 seconds. Stir well and add to the purée. With a whisk, “loosen” the mascarpone. Fold in to the purée. Refrigerate for 2 hours. When ready to pipe it into the cake, “loosen” it again with a whisk. 

For the Mascarpone Cream
*mascarpone cheese, 370gr *cream, 200gr * vanilla pod, 1 (cut lengthwise, seeds removed) *icing sugar, 3 tbspoons * powdered gelatin, 7gr

Take 30gr of the original cream quantity, put it in a little saucepan with the vanilla seeds (and the pod cut in pieces), take it to a boil and let infuse for an hour. Then remove the pod. In a stand mixer, whip the cream with 1tbsp of sugar. Refrigerate. In a bowl combine the marcarpone (at room temperature), the cream infused with vanilla, the remaining sugar, and the gelatin dissolved in 20gr of water (method? see in “mascarpone cream”) Why the mascarpone at room temperature??? because if it is cold, the gelatin will set immediately !! before you have incorporated everything well..Then yes, once you got a smooth cream, refrigerate for one hour.

For the caramel:

*water, 60gr * sugar, 240gr *glucose, 70gr
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan. Heat medium. A caramel  will begin to form. Before it turns dark red,  turn off the heat…!!! (caramel continues cooking even if you have removed it from the heat! remember that!!! Wait some minutes. The important thing here is to have the right temperature of caramel: if it is too hot, it will not cover the puffs properly. If it is too cold, the puffs will stick to the caramel in the saucepan..Don’t use the thermometer..experiment..;also think about re-heating caramel (low heat) after some time. the fact that we have added glucose to this caramel is of paramount importance…Its presence gives you “more time” to work and prevents the caramel from burning!


Cut (using a sharp knife) your caramelized pastry puff into a circle of desired size (here I used a 20cm ring mold). Take your choux puffs and fill them with mascarpone cream: for that, put the cream into piping bag fitted with 10mm tip, with the same tip (or using a ballpen) make a hole in the inferior part of your puff…fill them with the cream; keep them in the fridge until you finished with all of them! My cake here used 17 puffs (with my recipe you will get more…for extra indulgence!) Once your caramel is ready, dip the upper part of the choux in it (be VERY careful not to get burned!!!) let them stand on a Silpat!!) Refrigerate if necessary! Use the caramel to stick the choux ring to the puff pastry disk, and then just dip the choux slightly into the caramel ,and stick them to the ring! Phew!!!! The most difficult part is over!!
Put the pumpkin cream into a pastry bag fitted with a 12cm tip. Look at my photo!! Make a layer of this cream. Then, put the mascarpone cream in another pastry bag fitted with the St Honoré tip (you can use another tip if you want..) Look at the photo! Create “rays of cream” that converge to the center…Place one choux as a form of “hub”
NB: before putting both creams into the pastry bags, it is necessary to “de-contract” them, to loosen a bit the firm texture created by the gelatin…use a whisk for that, but don’t overdo it!)

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