I fell in love with cream puffs during a 10th grade Home Economics class and the love affair has been going strong ever since. These are absolutely luscious. Not exactly like wheat based cream puffs, but very good in their own right. They are light, crispy, hollow and scrumptious. This is one of the recipes that, for me, makes GFCF living viable for the long term.
1 cup water
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rice flour
Begin by getting out a 2 or 3-quart saucepan. Place the water, margarine and salt into the pot. Bring the water to a boil and allow the margarine to melt. Add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon. The flour will be absorbed and thicken into a dough that will follow the spoon around the pan as you stir it. Allow it to cook for a few seconds and then remove it from the heat.
Now, get out your electric beaters. Plug them in and have them ready. Crack a single egg into the hot pan of dough. Immediately begin beating the dough at a medium speed for about 30 seconds. If you’re beating by hand then give it 50 to 60 strokes. I always use my electric beaters for this chore because it takes a lot of arm muscle to do by hand.
Next crack in the second egg and beat for 20 to 30 seconds. Crack in the third egg and beat for 30 more seconds. Crack in the last egg and beat for 30 or more seconds, or until the dough is soft and satiny. Set it aside for about 10 minutes, to cool.
It’s very important that you beat the egg in for sufficient time so that the cream puffs will puff up the way they’re supposed to. Also be certain to add the eggs one at a time, because if you add them all at once then the puffs won’t puff.
While the dough is cooling preheat the oven to 400°.
Coat 2-cookie sheets with vegetable oil cooking spray or grease them lightly with solid shortening. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the cookie sheets. I use a 2-tablespoon cookie-scoop. A heaping tablespoon will provide about the same amount.
Bake the dough at 400° for 30 to 35 minutes. The cream puffs will be puffed up and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Use a sharp knife to remove the top third of each puff. Use a fork to pull out any soft dough from inside the puffs. They are easier to fill when hollow. You can eat the soft dough you remove or feed it to a wandering nearby child or pet. Fill the puffs and place the top over the filling. The tops may be frosted or topped with powdered sugar or gravy if desired.
For fillings, I most often use low-sugar strawberry preserves. After replacing the top I sift a little powdered sugar over top. This makes a delectable dessert. There are lots of other options though. Traditionally Cream Puffs are filled with custard, but well chilled vanilla pudding (made from dairy-free milk) makes an excellent substitute. Top with a smear of chocolate frosting and you have éclairs. Fresh fruit or stewed fruit is another option. Cream puffs don’t have to be sweet though, many savory fillings are available. Any meat or vegetable in a savory cream sauce can be used instead. In this case, you may choose to slice the cream puffs in half and lay both halves on the plate. Spoon the cream sauce over and into the cream puffs and serve. Chicken A ‘la King is traditionally served this way. Cream Puffs are also good filled with a scoop of chicken salad for a very fancy luncheon plate.
If you use electric beaters, Cream Puffs are relatively easy to prepare. So few people make them from scratch anymore that guests are always surprised and impressed when they appear on the menu. Kids tend to love Cream Puffs, so this recipe is well worth perfecting.