These Gluten Free Cream Puffs are a pastry lover’s dream! Just like the real French pastry, they’re crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and filled with diplomat cream.
Oh, man! It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cream puff. How ’bout you? I remember making them years ago and sometimes filling them with ice cream and other times with savory things, like chicken salad. Those were the days, weren’t they? When we could basically eat whatever we wanted?
Well, we still CAN eat whatever we want, as long as we keep working on those recipes we used to love, making them gluten free! If we can have great cinnamon rolls and pizza, we can definitely have great cream puffs.
WHAT IS PÂTE À CHOUX?
Translated from the French, pâte à choux literally means “cabbage paste.” However, there’s no cabbage in this pastry dough (thank God!). It gets its name because when baked, the paste turns into what looks like little cabbages.
Pâte à choux is more of a paste than a dough. It’s made by heating milk or water with a decent amount of butter and a little bit of sugar until boiling. At that point, it’s taken off the heat and flour is added all at once. The whole thing is put back on the heat to stir until a ball forms. Eggs are added, one at a time, until a smooth, shiny paste is achieved.
HOW ARE GLUTEN FREE CREAM PUFFS MADE?
Once the pâte à choux is made, it takes no time to make cream puffs. What I like to do is fill a pastry bag (I buy these on Amazon) and pipe my cream puffs. However, cream puffs can also be dropped onto baking sheets with two spoons.
If piping, begin by lining the pastry bag with a tip 1A large round tip or a tip 1M large open star tip. Hold the pastry bag at a 90-degree angle to the parchment-lined baking sheet and squeeze the bag until a desired round size is piped. With a quick flick of the wrist, release pressure. If a point remains, that’s okay. Take a finger dipped in water and gently tamp that point down. Simple as that!!
MY PARCHMENT WON’T STAY ON THE BAKING SHEET. HELP!!
No worries! It happens to all of us. Before beginning to pipe, lift up the corners of the parchment and pipe a tiny dot of paste on the underside of each corner. Replace the corners and press down so the parchment sticks to the choux paste. This will keep it in place while piping 😉
BAKING THE CREAM PUFFS
I’ve found the best way to bake these gluten free cream puffs is to begin with a high heat, but go even higher once they’re in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and as soon as you put the puffs in the oven, turn it up to 450. Bake for 10 minutes and then drop the temperature down to 350 and bake 15-20 minutes longer, depending on the size.
When they look like they’re done (golden brown and crisp), remove them from the oven. Take a small sharp knife (or even a sharp skewer) and poke the side of each puff to release steam. Return them to the oven to bake for 3-5 minutes longer. Allowing the steam to escape will ensure the interiors are completely baked and there’s plenty of room to fill them with cream!
When it comes to cream puffs, you can really go no wrong with what you fill ’em with. Like I said before, you can fill them with sweet fillings (such as whipped cream or pastry cream), OR you can go the savory route and fill them with chicken salad for little appetizer puffs. My chopped chicken salad would be perfect for this!!
But my absolute favorite filling for cream puffs is diplomat cream. What in the world is diplomat cream, you ask?? It’s pastry cream with whipped cream added to it to lighten it up. Some might argue this isn’t true diplomat cream because it doesn’t have gelatin in it, but I disagree. The recipe I use for pastry cream is Gesine Prado’s recipe and it is a gloriously THICK pastry cream and doesn’t need gelatin for stability.
The pastry cream consists of:
- Egg yolks
- Heavy cream
- Whole milk
After the pastry cream is made and well chilled, heavy cream is whipped to stiff peaks and folded into the pastry cream, turning it into a marvelously lightened cream that could be eaten with a spoon (if that’s the way you roll)! Just save some for the cream puffs, will ya??
You may never find these in a real French bakery, but we can dream we’re in France while devouring our homemade gluten free cream puffs, can’t we? Oui, oui!!!
Gluten Free Cream Puffs
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
- 1 stick (½ cup or 113 g) butter, cut into pieces
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup (140 g) Kim's gluten free flour blend (or any flour blend with xanthan gum)
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (30 g) cornstarch
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
- 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
- In small saucepan, add milk, butter, sugar, and pinch of salt. Stir over medium-low heat with a wooden spoon until sugar melts completely (don't rush this step). Turn mixture to medium-high until it begins to boil rapidly.
- Remove pan from heat and dump flour in, all at once, and stir with wooden spoon.
- Place pan back on stovetop over medium heat and stir continuously until mixture balls up and all flour is cooked out, about 1-2 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for about 3-4 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, with a hand mixer, in a food processor, or by hand with a wooden spoon, add eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously after each addition. It should be shiny and smooth, but it might be very thick, which is okay.
- Fill a pastry bag with the paste (alternatively spoon mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheets using a spoon). I prefer to let the choux paste sit in the pastry bag for about a ½ an hour to loosen up a bit before piping, but it's not necessary.
- Pipe large (about 2 inch) round circles onto baking sheet using a vertical (90-degree) bag placement. Using finger dipped in water, smooth or tamp down any points on top of mounds.
- Place in 425° oven and immediately turn oven temp up to 450° and bake for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 350° and continue baking for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove puffs from oven and cut very small slit into sides of each puff. Return puffs to oven to finish baking and allow steam to escape for about 5 minutes. Turn oven off, open oven door, and let puffs sit in oven for up to one hour to dry out.
MAKING PASTRY CREAM AND DIPLOMAT CREAM:
- In small saucepan, heat milk and cream to almost boiling (little bubbles are forming around the edge).
- Meanwhile, in medium bowl whisk egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch until very light in color and thickened. Slowly pour about one tablespoon of hot cream mixture into egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Slowly pour the rest of the hot cream mixture into yolks, whisking constantly, and then pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan.
- Whisking constantly (you must use a whisk for this particular pastry cream), return saucepan to stove over medium heat. Whisk until mixture begins to thicken, like thick mayonnaise. Immediately remove from heat and whisk butter into pastry cream.
- Place pastry cream in medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap (plastic should lay directly on surface of pudding). Refrigerate for about 1-2 hours, or until cool and firm.
- Remove pastry cream from refrigerator and whisk to loosen. Add about ½ cup of whipped heavy cream into pastry cream to lighten. Then gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream.
- Pipe into centers of cream puffs as desired.
Adapted from Gesine Bullock-Prado’s class Pâte à Choux Pastries: Cream Puffs, Eclairs, & More on Bluprint.