Monday, February 23, 2009

Fantastic Profiteroles and Eclairs sans Gluten

gluten free eclairs

gluten free profiteroles

In France, eclairs are the size of soccer fields or more specifically, airport runways. You almost need a baguette bag to carry one eclair, they are that big. You would expect that one eclair could be dessert for a whole family, but it isn't so at all. I saw the tiniest and most petite women eat a whole eclair often.

In my little bakery nearby, the eclairs are dainty and short. I like them better that way. It is enough to make you happy and less than enough to make you wish you hadn't eaten the whole thing. And it is quite clear there is no need to share. But alas, they do not bake gluten free.

In honor of the craving we have, this is the recreated gluten free eclair, and just to be a smarty pants, we added a pate choux profiterole to the plate too. Great for those who can't figure out which one to take home. Eat them both!

The dough is the same, and is pretty easy to make, gluten free or not. The custardy filling is easy too. The hard part for both is the amount of time and attention they need. Also, be prepared for a kitchen hurricane! This takes so many bowls and pots, I often wish for a dish washing elf (Lulu?). If you have the time and want to impress, well, everyone, make these! And best of all, you can make a ton of them for pennies compared to the cost of purchasing them from a bakery.

Gluten Free Custard Filled, Chocolate Profiteroles & Eclairs

the cast of characters

Ingredients - Pate Choux Dough for eclairs and profiteroles

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick butter cut up into 8 pieces
  • teaspoon of sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 3 large eggs

Ingredients - Vanilla Custard Filling

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half/half
  • Large (moist) vanilla bean scraped, or teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar (a matter of taste)
  • 1/4 (scant!) cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons butter cut into pieces

Ingredients - Chocolate Glaze or Ganache

  • 1 cup cream
  • 8-9 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup

Directions - Pate Choux Dough

In a good size saucepan heat the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter. Bring to a light boil. While that heats up, mix the flour with the xanthan gum. As soon as it boils add the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon like crazy, and keep stirring until the dough comes together and is shiny. The bottom of the pan will develop a crust, but keep stirring over low heat for about a minute more.

the liquid
adding the gf flour to the simmering liquid

keep stirring the shiny pate choux dough

Dump the ball of dough into a large bowl or stand mixer. Let it sit for no more than 5 minutes to cool slightly. Add the eggs while mixing on medium speed one at a time, incorporating the egg fully before adding another one. The dough will look like it is falling apart but by the time you finish it will look fine. Keep mixing for about another 30 seconds after the last egg is added until the dough comes together. It will look shiny and sticky, but won't form a ball.

add one egg at a time

last of the eggs

If you can pipe, use a 1/2 inch tip and pipe the dough onto parchment or silpat covered baking sheets into little mounds for pate choux, or little logs for eclairs. Depending on how big you want to make them, you can get anywhere from 4 of each to 6 of each.

piped profiteroles ready for oven

Immediately place in a 375 degree oven and leave it until they are nice and brown. That should take about 25 minutes, but check after 15 minutes.

profiteroles nicely browned

eclairs lightly browned

Remove them from the oven and slice a little slit into each one to let the steam escape and place it back in the oven which is now turned off, but still warm. Leave them in there for another 30 minutes to continue drying.

Remove and let the eclairs cool. Once cool, use a serrated knife and slice the tops off so that they can be filled. Remove the inner dough until you have a nice little cavity to fill with pastry cream. Leave them out to dry a little bit while you prepare the pastry cream.

off with their heads

Directions - Pastry Cream

Heat up the milk and half/half until warm and add the vanilla and the beans. Turn the heat off and cover. Leave it for about 15 minutes to infuse the milk with vanilla.

infusing milk with vanilla bean

Prepare two bowls, one slightly bigger than the other. In the larger one add some ice and set the smaller bowl on the ice. It should be large enough to hold the pastry cream mixture. Add to that bowl, a mesh strainer which you will use to push the cream through to eliminate any lumps.

ice bath and strainer for pastry cream

Meantime, mix the sugar and cornstarch together and add the egg yolks and mix with a whisk until smooth. Add some of the hot vanilla milk to the sugar/egg mixture to temper the eggs and warm them up. Then add that to the warm vanilla milk and turn the heat up to medium. Keep whisking the mixture until it comes to a boil. Simmer at a low boil for a minute or two and remove from the heat.

whisk until thick

Immediately turn the pastry cream into the mesh strainer and stir and push it through into the bowl that is sitting on the ice. Once all the pastry cream is in the bowl, stir to cool the mixture a bit. Remove the bowl from the ice and add the butter and whish to incorporate as it melts. Then return the bowl to the ice and let it sit for about 15 minutes, stirring often until the pastry cream is chilled.

straining gets rid of lumps

strained, smooth pastry cream

Using a small spoon, fill each pate choux and eclair as much as you like and place the top back on. Line them up on a wire rack on the baking sheet for the chocolate topping fun.

happily stuffed, ready for chocolate

Directions - Chocolate Topping

Place the chocolate in a bowl and heat the cream in a small saucepan until it simmers to a low boil. Pour that over the chocolate and leave it alone for a minute. Then begin stirring until the cream and chocolate are totally smooth. Add the butter and the light corn syrup and stir until incorporated.

Let the mixture sit for a minute or two until still warm but not hot. Using a spoon pour chocolate over each pastry. Let them set for a few minutes.

simmering the cream

adding the hot cream to chocolate, keep stirring!

ah, chocolate

Refrigerate. Leave out for a short time before serving for best flavor. They taste even better the second day.

Bon Appetit!

eclairs taste great with espresso

profiteroles taste great with more espresso

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