Sunday, 29 July 2012

Gluten free profiteroles - with or without the Thermomix

For some reason the profiterole, and choux pastry in general, has fear factor written all over it for many home cooks.  This fear makes the elusive croquembouche a task most just won't even attempt, seeing it more as the ultimate Masterchef challenge handed down by the 'all things sweet' pátissier master himself, Adriano Zumbo!

Well, quite a few years ago now, when I was making gluten free wedding cakes 'on the side', I decided to try conquering not only choux pastry, but gluten free choux pastry!!!  From memory I had even written it off as a failure before I began, assuming it would be just one of those things that could not be replicated as gluten free.

But to my surprise it was a success then, and thankfully I thought to write down what I did (although bizarrely enough I stopped halfway through the method!  Still not sure why to this day!!)  I was flicking through my second exercise book of recipe clippings and notes just the other day when I found the recipe, and decided to try it again.  But, of course, I now have my helping hand in the kitchen (being the Thermomix for anyone who is new to this blog!) and so was excited to see just how much easier the process would be.

So, would anyone be surprised by me saying it was SOOOOOO much easier??!!!  And not only did it do all the hard mixing work for me, but it ground the brown rice into flour before I even began so, again, I can find a healthy aspect to this post by saying these profiteroles contain all the goodness of whole grains and being freshly ground retains all those nutrients! 

I think the fear of working with choux pastry comes more from how to cook it, but I found that just throwing them in a 200 degree oven for 20 or so minutes worked fine.  Some recipes require reducing the heat after 10 minutes, cutting a slit in each after they are cooked and returning to the oven, turning off the heat and leaving to dry out, scooping out any soft pastry leaving the crispy shell etc etc.  Well, you could do that if you like, I tend to try and simplify things if possible and I reckon mine tasted just fine.  I wasn't catering for the Queen though, that could be a different story!!!  

Profiteroles are so versatile that even though they are probably best known for having a creme patisserie filling and chocolate top, they lend themselves beautifully to savoury applications such as flavoured cheese fillings (using cream cheese, goats cheese, ricotta etc) or even something a bit different and special such as a paté or mousse.  Whichever way you choose to use these light, eggy delicate cases, you are guaranteed to impress with what I would say is quite an achievable and satisfying eat to come out of the kitchen!

Gluten free profiteroles


1 cup water
75g butter
pinch salt
1/2 c potato or corn flour (ensure it states gluten free on pack)
1/2 c brown rice (if not using a Thermomix, use brown rice flour)
1 1/2 tbs xantham gum
4 eggs

Thermomix Method

1.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.
2.  Place brown rice into TM bowl and mill on speed 10 for 1 minute.  Set aside and rinse out bowl. (This will make slightly more than 1/2 cup brown rice flour so when adding the flours back into the mix, just use 1/2 c brown rice flour and save the leftover for using in the custard filling!)
3.  Place water, salt and butter into TM bowl and cook for 9 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 2.
4.  Add the flours and mix for 30 seconds on speed 4, or until you see the pastry coming away from the sides of the bowl.  Take the lid off and allow pastry to cool for approx 10 minutes.
5.  Add eggs to the mixture one at a time onto rotating blades for 40ish seconds on speed 5.
6.  Spoon or pipe mixture into small balls onto trays lined with baking paper (makes approx 40)
7.  Place into preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
8.  Fill once cooled.

Conventional Method

1.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.
2.  Place water, salt and butter in a medium saucepan and heat until butter has melted and mixture is just starting to boil.
3.  Remove from the heat and work quickly to mix in the flours and xantham gum with a wooden spoon.
4.  Return to a low heat and beat until mixture forms a ball and comes away from the side of the saucepan. (this is where you will need your muscles, or a friend on hand to share the load!)
5.  Transfer the pastry to your electric mixer (or leave in saucepan if you are using a handheld electric beater) and leave for a few minutes until the mixture has cooled to lukewarm temperature.
6.  Lightly beat eggs and add one at a time to the mix while beating until you have a smooth, glossy but thick paste.
7.  Follow from step 6 above.   

I used the custard/creme patissere from the EDC book (pg 155) and just used gluten free plain flour which made more than I needed but then, it will never go to waste in our house!  For those of you not in possession of a Thermomix, your basic custard recipe (preferably from scratch using eggs to thicken but if time is of the essence, custard powder could be used) is perfect for the job - just make sure you get it thick enough to hold form when piped into the profiterole.

Another couple of sweet filling ideas include:
* vanilla ice cream or Raw cacao and mint ice cream.  Work quickly then refreeze.  Serve slightly softened with a warm chocolate or caramel sauce drizzled over.
* smooth ricotta, honey, and finely chopped glace ginger

Savoury filling ideas include:
* cream cheese mixed with finely chopped smoked salmon, freshly chopped dill and lemon zest.
* goats cheese with finely chopped fresh herbs of your liking.
* a good quality chicken liver pate, possibly with a little sour cream to soften to piping consistency.
Completed mix in the TM bowl
Piped and ready to go in the oven

Just out of the oven - puffed nicely

Piping the filling into the profiterole
Custard filled profiteroles
Dusted with gluten free icing sugar
Dusted with raw cacao powder and icing sugar


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