I always forget just how busy it gets in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I tend to romanticize the holidays and then find myself scrambling around at the last minute in an attempt to make things work out the way I desire. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of my favorite times of the year; it just takes a lot of work to make things run smoothly.
There are always a multitude of parties in December. We’ve had parties with our friends, our coworkers, our classmates. There have been potlucks, class parties, cookie exchanges and movie nights. My mom had a party last week where she had to take some kind of dessert. I know that people can get a little tired of run-of-the-mill Christmas cookies this time of year, so I wanted to make something that was still festive, but that you aren’t going to eat every day (although, I totally would if I could… and not gain weight, of course). I decided to make cream puffs. They are extremely easy (that’s right… you read that correctly, I said easy) and they are always a crowd pleaser.
Most people think that gluten free and cream puffs don’t mix. Well, I’m here to tell you that they do, and they do so marvelously. My boys all go crazy for these.
Cream Puffs (Gluten-Free)
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Pate a Choux (Cream Puff Pastry)
(makes about 50 puffs)
- 1 ½ cups water
- 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free featherlight rice flour blend (I use Authentic Foods’: Bette’s Featherlight Rice Flour Blend)**
- ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum**
- 6 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line two to three cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium sized saucepan, bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a simmer over medium heat until the butter is completely melted.
- Using a wooden spoon to stir, stir in the flour and continue stirring until the dough becomes shiny and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.
- Remove from heat.
- Transfer the dough to a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed to release the steam and cool the dough. This only takes 1-2 minutes (it doesn’t need to be cool, you just don’t want it to cook your eggs).
- Turn the mixer up to medium-low and beat in the eggs, one at a time.
- Transfer the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (or put it in a Ziploc bag and cut off about ½ an inch at one of the corners).
- Pipe 1 – 1 ½ inch balls onto the parchment lined baking sheets (I usually get about 50 balls).
- Use your finger to smooth the tops of the balls.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the balls are puffed and starting to turn golden.
- Turn the oven heat down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave on baking sheet until cooled completely.
**To make conventional pastry puffs, use all-purpose flour in place of the gluten-free flour and omit the xanthan gum.
(makes enough for 100 puffs, or a double batch of Pate aux Choux)
- ¼ cup cold water
- 2 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 12 large egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 Tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups milk (I use 1%… 2% or whole milk will work as well. Skim milk makes it a bit too runny)
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small piece
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- Mix the gelatin with the ¼ cup water and set aside.
- Beat the eggs, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer over medium heat.
- Remove from heat.
- Whisk about one quarter of the milk into the egg mixture.
- Immediately pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk mixture.
- Return to heat and bring to a boil while continuing to whisk constantly.
- Continue cooking until the mixture is very thick.
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
- Once butter is melted, stir in the gelatin.
- Refrigerate for 2-4 hours, until cold.
- When you are ready to fill the puffs, remove the custard from the refrigerator and set aside.
- Whip 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks begin to form.
- Fold the whipped cream into the custard.
To fill the puffs, transfer the custard cream to a pastry bag fitted with a small piping tip. Pierce the bottom of the puff with the piping tip and fill with custard cream (you will feel the pastry puff start to expand when it is getting full). Do not panic if some of the cream starts to come out of the top of the puffs (you’ll hide any flaws with powdered sugar later on). Once you are finished filling the puffs, wipe away any cream that has escaped through the tops and sides. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight (this gives the cream time to absorb into the pastry and for the flavors to meld). Just before you are ready to serve dust with powdered sugar (it hides a multitude of sins!).
~Quick Tip: When I want to evenly dust a dessert with powdered sugar I fill a small, mesh tea infuser (mine is from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) with powdered sugar and shake it over the dessert until coated with the desired amount of sugar.