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Cream Puffs and Eclairs

We can't stop making (and eating) these fun desserts! You can call them by their fancy name of Pate a Choux, or eclairs which are usually long and rectangular, or cream puffs which are balls of goodness. Whatever you call them, they are light and airy pastries that bake with a hollow center that you fill with the most heavenly pastry cream, then dip it all in chocolate ganache. The coolest thing is that this gluten free version is just as delicious, if not more so, than it's counterpart with gluten! It's a fancy dessert that would be perfect to make those you love for Valentines day.


Cream Puffs and Eclairs

Makes 24

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour (I use ATK flour blend without xanthum gum)

4 large eggs

Pastry Cream (recipe below)

Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Break eggs into a liquid measuring cup. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Place the water, butter, and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. Add the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a thick dough. Dump the dough into the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for a minute to let it cool down. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. After all the eggs are incorporated, continue mixing on medium-high speed until the dough is smooth and shiny, about 3 minutes. Pipe the dough on prepared sheets in logs for eclairs, or use a cookie scoop to make mounds for cream puffs, spacing a few inches apart. If piping, moisten a finger with water and press down the peaks so they are smooth. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven temperature to 350°F and bake another 25-30 minutes or until the dough has risen and is golden. Turn off the oven, leave the door open a crack, and leave the puffs in for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and pierce the side of each with a sharp knife to let the steam escape. Let cool completely.

Pastry Cream

Makes 2 cups

2 cups milk, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks

Place 1 1/2 cups milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat, stirring often until it just starts to simmer. Remove from the heat. In a glass measuring cup, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk, cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks. Ladle some of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking while pouring. Do this a few times (called tempering) then slowly pour the egg mixture back into the pan of hot milk while whisking. Return to heat and whisk and cook until it thickens and comes to a boil. Pour the custard through a strainer and into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache

Makes 1 1/2 cups

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

1/2 cup heavy cream

In a wide glass measuring cup, heat the cream in the microwave until steaming. Add the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes. Stir with a spatula until smooth. Let cool before dipping pastries.


Step-by-step tutorial:

This is a multi-step dessert, so let's start with the pastries. To make them you will need water, sugar, salt, all-purpose flour blend (not a cup for cup, but one without xanthum gum - I use the ATK blend), 4 eggs, and a stick of butter.

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, bring 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add 1 cup flour all at once and stir until thick and combined. It will make a very thick dough.

Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and mix for a few minutes with a paddle attachment to start to cool the dough. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then beat on medium high for about 3 minutes until smooth and shiny.

Put the dough in a pastry bag and pipe logs onto a baking sheet covered with parchment or a silicone mat. These will make eclairs.

For cream puffs, I use my cookie scoop to make the dough into rounds.

Wet a finger to smooth out any points or high spots so they bake evenly. Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 10 minutes......

.......then turn the temperature down to 350°F and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes (depending on their size).

Once they are golden brown, turn off the oven, but leave the door open a bit and let them cool in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and slit each with a knife on the bottom side to let out steam. This will also be where you put the pastry bag to fill with cream. Cool completely.

While the pastries are baking, I start the pastry cream. You can also make this ahead of time because it needs to be refrigerated anyway. You will need milk, vanilla, cornstarch, sugar, and 2 egg yolks.

In a medium saucepan, warm 1 1/2 cups milk (will use the other 1/2 cup in a bit) and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Bring to a simmer. In a glass measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, and 2 eggs yolks. Ladle some of the hot milk in while whisking. Repeat a few times, then once the mixture is tempered, pour the egg mixture back into the pan of hot milk, whisking continually.

Continue to cook over medium heat, still whisking, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.

Once it thickens, it will look like a smooth pudding.

Pour the custard through a mesh strainer and into another bowl.

Cover the custard with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use. You will want to eat it all with a spoon right now, but patience will pay off later. I promise!

Now to get our chocolate ganache ready! This is so easy. All you need is heavy cream and 4 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate.

In a wide glass measuring cup (good for dipping into) heat 1/2 cup heavy cream until it starts to boil. Remove from the microwave and add 4 ounces chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Allow the chocolate to sit in the hot cream for a few minutes.

With a spatula, stir the ganache until smooth and completely melted.

Fill a piping bag with pastry cream, then fill the cooled pastries one by one.

Dip the eclairs and cream puffs into the ganache and place on a wire rack to let the chocolate set. You can also put them in the refrigerator to make it set faster.

I could eat a million of these. That is why we love to make them bite when we do eat 10, we don't feel as guilty. The combination of a perfect light pastry, smooth vanilla custard, and a rich chocolate ganache just can't be beat!

You will be the hero and favorite person in anyone's life you share these with. Or, just eat them all yourself....... I won't judge. Either way, you need to make some soon!

Recipe Source: Pate a Choux recipe adapted from a recipe at SimplyGluten-Free


Did you try this recipe?  I'd love to hear from you!  Please rate and leave a comment!

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