Choux pastry was one of the first challenges I was desperate to try when we first went gluten free. If there was a party to go to, my offering had often been a batch of profiteroles and the ingredients to knock up a quick chocolate sauce fresh when I got there. The thought of ‘no profiteroles’ was too much to bear…
New gluten free cook books in hand, I scoured the indexes and internet looking for a gluten free version of choux, to no avail. Nearly 7 years on and there are many gluten free recipes out there (I guess we have come a long way), but at that time I realised I would have to go it alone. I was only a month or so into the strange world of gluten free baking and all my kitchen understanding and knowledge had been turned upside down.
I have been told that making choux pastry can be quite tricky, but I had never had a failed batch, so set to work on de-glutenising and adapting the trusty recipe from school food science lessons, which was by now 30 years old!
Although my first attempt was a bit soggy, it sort of resembled a batch of profiteroles (I didn’t dare risk piping the dough at that stage). A few more attempts and ingredient tweaks later and I was jumping for joy. I haven’t changed my recipe since…
Tested on friends and relatives, this choux has not let me down yet. I make it with my own flour blend A (found here), which is a balanced combination of brown and white rice flours, cornflour, tapioca and potato starch. Consequently, I have no idea whether it would work as well with a commercial GF flour blend, as gluten free flours have such very different properties and the ratios in the blend can sometimes be crucial.
Eclairs (long, thin choux pastry cases filled with cream and topped with icing) are one of my favourite sweet pastry treats and are thought to have originated in France at the turn of the nineteenth century. They are usually filled with either whipped cream or pastry cream and topped with dark chocolate fondant icing, but the possibilities for variations in flavour, filling and toppings are endless.
Apparently, some editions of the Chambers dictionary define eclairs as ‘a cake, long in shape but short in duration’… I think that speaks for itself.
The inspiration for these eclairs came straight from the garden. Our rhubarb plant which had had a bit of a slow start to the year, had suddenly gone ballistic. Needing to be used, it was a perfect summery flavour for this French delight.
Simmered down into a rhubarb syrup and folded into the cream which fills each eclair, the rhubarb gives them a slightly tart, fruity tang, complimented by a sweet white chocolate iced topping. Delicious!
Rhubarb & White Chocolate Eclairs
Choux Pastry (gluten free) (makes approx 14 small eclairs)
- Base line a baking sheet with baking paper or use a silpat sheet.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7.
- Weigh and mix the flour and xanthan gum into a bowl. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan over a low heat.
- Add the water and bring to the boil.
- Remove from the heat and add the flour. Beat well with a wooden/silicone spoon until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.
- Cool slightly and add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Make sure the mixture is completely combined and even.
- Pipe the mixture into sausage shapes about 10 cm/4 inches long, using a large open round nozzle, onto the baking sheet(s).
- Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 150 C/300 F/Gas 2 (open the oven door for a few seconds to allow a little heat to escape) and bake for a further 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown and hollow.
- Remove from the oven and cut a small slit in the side or end of each eclair case to allow the steam to escape. Cool completely on a wire rack.
300 ml double cream
- Wash and cut the rhubarb into small pieces. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and water and bring to the boil stirring.
- Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the rhubarb is very soft and the liquid has reduced to a syrup. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
- Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and fold in the rhubarb syrup.
- Pipe the cream into the eclair cases using a smallish piping nozzle through the slits made earlier.
- Set aside in the fridge until ready to dip in chocolate.
White Chocolate ‘icing’
10g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1-2 tablespoons milk
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a small glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave set to medium on 30 second bursts, stirring frequently.
- Remove from the heat and add the golden syrup. The mixture will become ‘clumpy’.
- Add the milk and stir through until the mixture becomes smooth again.
- Dip the eclairs in the chocolate or coat the tops using the back of a spoon.
- Place in the fridge to set.