Pâte à choux means roughly “cabbage paste”. You can use this recipe to make cream puffs, éclairs, profiteroles, puffed swans, Paris-Brest, Gâteau Saint-Honoré… the possibilities for piping dough out of a pastry bag are endless. This post will focus specifically on using pâte à choux to make cream puffs. These are delectable treats that you can just pop into your mouth look like cute little cabbages. ”Chou(x)” in French has an affectionate connotation, and you might call your loved one “mon petit chou”… my little cabbage. It’s like Americans calling their kids pumpkin, sweet pea, sugar, sugar pie…
The original name for this pastry dough was “pâte à chaud” which means “hot paste”, because the dough is cooked twice — once on the stove and then in the oven. This is the exact same technique and ratios as pão de queijo, so don’t be intimidated. The only fancy thing here is that we pipe these with a bag and then slit them open and fill them with cream. Yum.
Cream Puffs – Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free
pâte à choux:
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup gluten-free flour mix*
4 large eggs
1 egg, beaten for egg wash**
* I follow Shauna’s recipe for an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix, and I just throw in whatever flours and starches I have on hand.
** It’s traditional to dorure (egg wash) the cream puffs before baking them, but I forgot to do this with the first batch. I did it for the second batch, and, for some reason, they just weren’t as good. I liked the first batch sans dorure better. The dorure does make the puffs very shiny and golden, though.
1 can of coconut milk
a few drops of vanilla to taste
a few drops of stevia to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Put the water, butter, and salt into a small pot. Bring the water slowly to a boil over medium heat until the butter melts. You want the butter to melt before the water boils, so resist the urge to crank up the heat. Just when the water boils, take it off the heat and add the flour. Stir it together with a wooden spoon. It will be gloppy and sticky. Put it back on the heat and keep stirring. You are letting the paste dry out here so that the water will evaporate. That’s good. When the paste starts to look kind of oily on the surface, take it off the heat again and let the paste cool a little bit (you don’t want it to immediately cook your eggs). Beat the eggs together in another bowl, and then add the eggs to the paste and blend together.
Put the paste into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (.5 inch). Pipe the dough into 1-inch rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Dorure if you choose.
Put the puffs into the oven, and then drop the heat to 325 F. Do NOT open the oven to look at them. The beginning of the baking process is crucial, because the steam from the eggs in the high heat is what makes the little puffs puff.
The puffs are done when there are no more little shiny balls of moisture on them. This was about 15-20 minutes for me, but it may be more or less for you. Check them often, about every 5 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a rack after you take it out of the oven, and let the puffs cool for at least 15 minutes (or your cream will melt when you smear it inside).
While the puffs are puffing in the oven, make your coconut cream. Slice each pastry puff in half carefully with a small knife. Use a clean pastry bag with a plain tip, and load it with coconut cream. Use the pastry bag to pipe your desired amount of cream onto the bottom half of the puff. Place the top of the puff on top of the cream et voilà!
Eat and enjoy.
* You can dip the tops of the cream puffs into melted chocolate.
*You can spread some of that chocolate as a base layer on the cream puff before pipping the coconut cream in… or you could put a thin layer of raspberry jam in there, too…
*If you use ice cream instead of coconut cream, you have profiteroles.