We’ve all seen the cookies decorated with ghosts, spiders, or gravestones… and the cupcakes with the over-the-top, in-your-face bright orange frosting sprinkled with black and orange jimmies. I wanted to move away from the familiar, and make Halloween just a bit more…sophisticated - sophisticated, but still super fun!

I wanted to stay away from artificial ingredients (yes the pictures have sprinkles on them…), so I added black sesame powder to the pâte a choux puffs and made pastry cream using pumpkin puree, which not only provided a natural sweetness, but made the cream bright orange as well.

You can be as creative as you want in decorating these guys. Once you have the puffs filled, it’s a matter of creating some legs with chocolate and sticking them right in to make spiders.

Spider Pate a Choux

Tips - the hard part about this recipe is probably the pastry cream as the egg can easily curdle. But if you temper the eggs prior with a little bit of the hot liquid and make sure the heat is turned down to medium, you can control how the mixture thickens a lot better. And because we have the gelatin in there, you don’t have to worry too much about whether you have heated the mixture to the exact point where it will thicken later. Any lumps that do form can be strained out and you will have the perfect pastry cream.

Directions For Black Sesame Choux Puff:

1. Combine water and butter in a pot and have the dry ingredients - flour, black sesame powder, sugar, and salt - combined in a bowl.

2. Bring water and butter to a boil.

3. When all the butter has melted, add in your dry ingredients.

4. Stir with wooden spoon or spatula until dough ball forms. (Should take about 30 seconds to 1 minute.) Empty into a bowl to cool for 5 minutes.

5. With a mixer on medium, beat in eggs one at a time until a smooth paste forms.

Smooth paste

6.With a pastry bag and round metal tip, pipe choux paste into the size of ping pong balls. The tip on the top can be flattened by using fingers dipped in a bit of water.

Choux smoothed over with water

7.Bake puffs at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Then turn oven down to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes until tops of the puffs get golden brown.

For Pumpkin Pastry Cream:

1. In a bowl, whisk egg, sugar, vanilla, cornstarch, pumpkin spice, and salt until smooth.

2.In a sauce pan, bring milk and gelatin to a boil. Turn down to medium heat.

3.Add some of the hot liquid to the egg mixture to temper. Pour egg mixture back into pot and cook for about a minute until mixture coats the back of a spoon. If lumps form, mixture can be strained after.

4. Pour pastry cream into a bowl and fold in pumpkin puree.

5. Put pastry cream in refrigerator to set for about 2-3 hours.

6.This part is optional, but if you are looking for a lighter filling, beat a half cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold this into the pastry cream.

Assembly:

1.Fill puffs with a pastry bag fitted with an eclair tip or a small round tip. Have a little bit of the pastry cream peak out for a colorful effect.

2. Dust with powdered sugar and decorate with your favorite Halloween candies and decorations.

Ingredients:

(Makes 15 puffs)

Black Sesame Pate a Choux: - 1/2 cup water - 3 tablespoons butter - 4 tablespoons + 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour - 3 tablespoons black sesame powder - 2 tablespoon sugar - pinch of salt - 2 eggs + 1 egg white

Pastry Cream: - 1 egg - 3 tablespoons sugar - 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract - 2 tablespoons cornstarch - 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice - pinch of salt - 1 cup milk - 1/2 tablespoon gelatin, bloomed in 2-3 tablespoons water - 1 tablespoon unsalted butter - 1/4 cup pumpkin puree - 1/2 cup heavy cream