Gluten-Free Cream Puffs

I think I'm developing a habit of choosing complicated recipes to turn gluten-free. Around Easter, Oma suggested we attempt to make gluten-free cream puffs. It was a busy time and it got put off until a few weeks ago, when we spent a Sunday afternoon poring over recipes and trying to whip up our own. Oma reminisced about how she used to make these delicious pastries for my grandfather, so I was eager to make a food that was so close to her heart.

Now, I don't think I've ever had a gluten-free cream puff before, but I sure do remember what the real ones are supposed to taste like. I knew right off the bat, this was not an easy mission. And sure enough, lest you believe everything always goes smoothly in the kitchen…the first time, our cream puffs did not puff. Do you remember pogs? Those little disk things kids used to play with in grade-school? They looked more like that — flat an unappetizing.

We were disheartened. We checked and rechecked the recipe, compared it to others, thought and hypothesized. I'm being dramatic. But really, we couldn't figure it out. So while I can't say for certain why the new and improved recipe works (as we changed a few quantities) I can say we've had success. And the vanilla pudding filling was Oma's mother's recipe, so as you can imagine, it's pretty amazing.

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Photography by Amanda Dennelly

Yields 20 pastries
Adapted from recipe by Gluten-Free on a Shoestring


INGREDIENTS

For the pastry:
1 cup milk (not nonfat)
4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (140 g) ATK Gluten Free Flour Blend
1/2 teaspoon psyllium husk powder, heaping
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs at room temperature, beaten

For vanilla pudding:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter

For chocolate drizzle:
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream


DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside. Heat the milk, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, add the flour, stirring vigorously. Return the pan to the heat and continue to stir vigorously, until the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the saucepan and comes together in a ball (about 2 minutes). A thin film will form on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat, and allow the mixture to cool until it is no longer hot to the touch.

2. Transfer half the cooled dough to a blender or food processor. Pour the beaten eggs on top and then add the rest of the dough. Pulse until the mixture is smooth and uniformly well-blended.

3. Transfer the dough from to a pastry bag fitted with a large, plain piping tip (about 1 inch in diameter). Pipe the dough into about 20 small mounds, each about 1 1/2 inches high, about 1 inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Smooth the tops of the pastry dough lightly with wet fingers so that the tops do not burn during baking. 

4. Bake the cream puffs in the center of the preheated oven for 18–22 minutes, or until they're a pale gold color. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, working quickly with a sharp knife, cut a small slit in the side of each cream puff to allow steam to escape.

5. While the pastries are drying in the oven, make the vanilla pudding. In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat milk until bubbles form at edges. In a bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Pour into hot milk, a little at a time, stirring to dissolve. Continue to cook and stir until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Do not boil. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and butter. Chill before transferring to a piping bag to fill cream puffs.

6. To make the chocolate drizzle, place the chopped chocolate in a small, heat-safe bowl and set it aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Drizzle the chocolate mixture over assembled puffs using a swift back-and-forth motion with a spoon. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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images by Amanda Dennelly