Makes about 4 Dozen
1. Mash the bananas together with the cinnamon, brown sugar, and rum, using a fork to thoroughly combine. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the banana mixture.
Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is fragrant and the liquid has evaporated. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Cover and chills.
2. Make the cream puff shells, baking and cooling them, then cutting off the tops as directed.
3. Whip the cream and the vanilla to stiff peaks. Fold in the cold banana mixture in thirds.
4. Pipe or spoon the banana filling into the cream puff shells (piping is much neater and also makes for airier filling). Serve with caramel drizzle and toasted chopped pecans.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with one rack positioned in the top third of the oven and one rack positioned in the bottom third. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine the water, milk, butter, and salt in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until a dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, 1 to 2 minutes.
Continue turning the dough 1 to 2 more minutes (it will form a ball), then remove the saucepan from the heat.
3. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer and let it cool for 5 minutes. Put the paddle attachment on the mixer, turn on the machine to medium-low, and add the eggs 1 at a time, blending in each egg before adding the next. Continue beating the dough until it is smooth and shiny, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Working in batches, transfer the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain round tip and pipe 1-inch rounds, spacing them 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Smooth the tops with a wet finger.
You can also scoop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheets, but piping is much neater. (You can freeze the unbaked dough on the baking sheets, then transfer to freezer bags. Bake without thawing, adding a couple of minutes to the baking time).
5. Bake the puffs for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Then quickly rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back, and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking just until the puffs are dry, firm, and golden brown, about 10 more minutes, keeping a very close eye on them to prevent overbrowning. Cool the puffs on baking sheets.
6. Do not fill until completely cooled to room temperature. (The baked, cooled, unfilled puffs can be frozen for up to 3 months). Freeze on the baking trays, transferring to zip-top freezer bags once frozen. Thaw at room temperature before filling.)
7. To fill the puffs, use a small sharp knife to cut the top quarter off of each puff. Pull out any soft dough that remains in the bottoms of the puffs, and use a pastry bag fitted with ½-inch star tip to pipe cream into the shells.
Makes about 1 ½ cups
1. Heat the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until the sugar melts and darkens to a pale amber color, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Take the pan off the heat and add the butter all at once (the sugar will be bubbly, so be careful) and continue whisking until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
Carefully add the cream, vanilla, and salt, whisking until smooth and fully incorporated, about 1 more minute. Let the caramel cool about 10 minutes (it will continue to thicken as it cools), then transfer to a jar; or cool completely and pour into a small squeeze bottle.
3. This can be made ahead and stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for weeks. Before serving, reheat gently (by transfering to a saucepan and warming over low heat, stirring occasionally; or by transferring to a bowl and microwaving at half power in 15-second intervals, stirring between each interval) until warmed through.
If you keep the caramel in a squeeze bottle, the best way to rewarm it is to stand the squeeze bottle in a bowl of hot water for several minutes.