My youngest son & me

My youngest son & me

About me

My name is Tanja (Sater) Miller and I'm excited about sharing my journey of converting my favorite recipes to gluten free! I am not a fancy cook - I prefer just a casual, fun meal. I am married with grown children (and have small grandchildren) & 3 dogs. I work full time as a registered nurse & I am a geek. Yes, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, Fringe, Firefly, Farscape and most of the other Scify shows. You will probably see a little of my geek side come out once in a while! Please join me on my journey of cooking, baking & converting every day recipes into yummy gluten free meals that everyone can enjoy (not just those with a gluten allergy!) Don't be shy about checking out my recipes....I have the gluten free version along with the regular recipe that I adapted from!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Gluten Free Cream Puffs (pate a choux)

Cream Puffs! These little things are light and fluffy and just melt in your mouth. I took these recently to two different parties and all 30 of the little puffs were gone quickly. No one even realized they were gluten free! Everyone said they were the best cream puffs they ever had. The thing I love about the puffs are that you can fill them with anything you want.

My mom used to make huge batches of puffs for bridal showers and fill them with tuna salad, chicken salad, pimento cheese spread and of course my favorite...cream filling. There are many ways to make the filling. You can make it homemade or you can use a box of instant pudding mix and add whipped topping (like Cool Whip) to give it that light and fluffy texture. I personally don't like the heavy custard or just pudding filling. I like it more like a mousse. Light and fluffy!You can top it with melted chocolate, frosting, powdered sugar or if you are doing can top it with sea salt or paprika. The possibilities are endless. This recipe is a life savor for those of us on a gluten free diet. They taste great so those without special diet restrictions won't notice the difference and those of us that need a gluten free diet can enjoy them either sweet or savory!

You can make them small, large or extra large but you will need to adjust the baking time. You don't want to under cook them or they get a chewy texture. I like making them with my small cookie scoop. They puff up to the perfect size and one batch makes about 30 puffs. I would rather make them small when taking them to a party because a lot of times people just want a small taste of dessert or a "sandwich" especially if it is a potluck and there are a lot of choices. Leftovers freeze great too!

Of course, if you don't have a gluten allergy then you can make these with regular flour. My recipes can always be made with regular flour but have been adjusted and tested for gluten free baking. I won't put anything on this blog that I haven't tested and tasted myself that meets my approval. If it doesn't taste "normal" then it won't pass my taste test! :)

Cream Puff (pate a choux) Recipe:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup of butter or margarine or vegetable shortening (like Crisco). If using margarine, make sure your margarine contains at least 65% fat or it will contain too much water and will not rise properly. Do not use reduced fat!
  • 1 pinch salt (about 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 1/4 cup gluten free flour (I prefer using one without sorghum in it for my sweets because I personally think it leaves an aftertaste. I have used my own gluten free flour blend (recipe below) as well as Trader Joe's, King Arthur, Cup4Cup, and Betty Crocker all with great results. *If your gluten free flour blend does not contain either xanthan gum or guar gum then you will need to add 1/2 tsp to your flour if using a gluten free flour. If you are using regular flour, don't add the xanthan gum.
  • 5 large eggs (at room temperature)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. (This will help to remove them without sticking). Place the water, butter (or margarine or Crisco) and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer (tiny little bubbles start to form). Add all the flour at once and stir with a wooden spoon or heavy spatula until it forms a thick dough. Dough may be slightly sticky and oily looking. This is normal. Dump the dough in a mixing bowl and let it cool for 3-5 minutes before adding eggs. You don't want to add the eggs or you will end up cooking the eggs!

Bring water, butter and salt to a simmer or light boil

Add flour (and xanthan gum) all at once. This is will be the texture.
After the dough has cooled about 3-5 minutes, beat the dough with a mixer for about 1 minute prior to adding the eggs. This will help cool the dough down and mix it well. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well before adding the next egg. After all the eggs have been added, continue mixing until the dough is shiny and thick, about 2 minutes.

Beating the dough and then adding the eggs one at a time.

This is what the dough should look like after adding the eggs.
At this point, the dough has been mixed and ready to put onto your silicone or parchment paper lined baking sheets. You can drop by spoonfuls (try to keep each one similar in size so they bake don't want some of them over-cooked and others under cooked!). I personally like using my small cookie scoop but you can use a pastry bag if you prefer. (I find it easier to clean a cookie scoop than a pastry bag!) I tried to space them about 2 inches apart. They will puff up some but shouldn't spread too much.

Using my small cookie scoop to drop onto parchment paper lined baking sheets

Ready to bake in my 375 degree pre-heated oven

Bake for about 30-35 minutes and then check on your puffs. Oven temperatures and elevation can affect the baking time. You want them lightly golden brown and the inside should be light and airy and well cooked. They should not be gooey. (I take a knife and cut into one to check the inside consistency). I have an old oven that came with my house and it seems to take a little longer to bake so I ended up baking my puffs almost 55 minutes. Confection ovens and gas ovens generally bake a little faster. I suggest checking them at 30 minutes and then adjusting your baking time if needed. Remove from oven. I like to pierce the edge of each puff with a knife to let the steam escape but I know people that don't do that and their puffs turn out fine too. Cool completely before filling. Slice in half and add your favorite filling whether it is sweet or savory.

Ready to fill with my sweet filling today

I chose to fill my puffs with a fluffy cream filling today. Sometimes I make my filling from scratch but I admit that most people comment on my fluffy filling when I use instant vanilla pudding mix and mix it with Cool Whip. I use two small boxes of vanilla instant pudding mix (prepared for pie filling) and then stir in 2-3 cups of Cool Whip until I get the desired texture I am looking for. The texture I aim for is fluffy but still holds it's shape. You can add whatever type of filling you like. I cheated for today's batch and used store bought chocolate frosting that I melted in the microwave and drizzled on top. There are many options and you can adjust this recipe to work for what you have on hand or for a specific party. You can add savory fillings like chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad, pimento cheese spread, etc. You can also add any type of sweet fillings like custards, puddings, mousse, ice cream, cheesecake fillings, etc. Sometimes I will top mine with powdered sugar, fruit or chocolate drizzle. It just depends on what I have on hand or what type of party I am taking a dessert. I have made with no-bake cheese cake filling and topped with fruit or pie filling in the past. It was delicious! Store in refrigerator or freezer.

I put these in the refrigerator for my potluck tomorrow

Ready to eat!


Yes, please!
My Homemade Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour (made from sticky rice, gluten free)
  • 1 cup potato starch (not flour)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk, make sure it is very fine in texture
  • 1 cup corn starch or tapioca starch (I used corn starch for this batch)
  • 3 tbs. xanthan gum
Combine all ingredients together well. You can put it in the blender for an extra smooth texture if desired. I store mine in a glass container and use it in place of regular flour in all my recipes. This particular blend I really like for baked sweet goods. 

I hope you enjoy this very flexible recipe. I love having recipes like this on hand that I can adjust to fit many different meals either sweet or savory. I also like that this recipe doesn't call for much gluten free flour so it is also affordable to make for a large crowd. I look forward to your versions of this recipe or any different fillings that you use. We all learn from each other so please feel free to post questions, comments or photos!

Gluten Free Casually