I love to cook. I much prefer to make something with my own two hands, knowing every ingredient that goes into it. Yes, I would love to be able to make some things and have them taste just like the restaurant version. But then I remember that it usually involves a lot of salt and fat. I would rather not have that.
I’m pretty good at cooking, too. I have my basic dishes that I make a lot, but they rock. And I am working on branching out to new things.
Baking is another matter. I really like it, but I bake cookies. That’s about it. I make zucchini bread, sometimes. But I still feel like it’s missing something. My husband likes it, though. I try other stuff here and there. But it usually turns out like a brick. Sometimes it tastes like one, too.
Then there was the first time I tried to make gluten free cookies. I wish I had taken a picture of the disaster that was my oven. I didn’t know anything about needing to use a mix of flours, so I just subbed in white rice flour for the wheat flour in a chocolate chip cookie recipe. There were little islands of melting chocolate chips surrounded by a coral looking structure made of rice flour. All in a large, growing ocean of butter that was flowing over the sides of the cookie sheet onto the oven floor. Smoke was billowing out, as well as a burning butter aroma. And I was a combination of tears and anger as I knew I was not going to be able to make my cookies for Christmas gifts, like I did all previous years.
Thank goodness I can laugh about it now. I can make cookies, again. But other baking is still an issue.
So why I chose a gluten free, dairy free cream-filled puffed pastry as my recipe for ‘Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger‘ is beyond me. What was I thinking?
Well, here is the good news for anyone reading this. If I can do it, anyone can. Carol from Simply Gluten-Free gives such specific, wonderful directions, it’s hard to go wrong. That being said, here is my experience and where I went wrong, so you won’t. I did things that weren’t called for by accident and/or necessity. Learn from my mistakes, and go forth and make pastry delight. (I think that’s the name of my bakery, if I ever decide to have one. C.H. – Should I TM it?)
Here is a link to Gluten Free Dairy Free “Cream” Puffs. You can follow along, if you like.
First, Carol says to have all of the ingredients ready to start. That is a very good idea. The mixing goes quick, so you want to have everything ready to go. Next, she says to use parchment paper or silicon baking sheets. I don’t have either. I still don’t know what parchment paper is. My mom has tried to explain it, but it just didn’t stick in my brain; unlike how these pastries stuck to my cookie sheet, even with cooking spray. Important: Get parchment paper or silicon cookie sheets.
The next important thing to do is to use the size of pan she recommends. She said to use a medium sauce pan, and I used a small one since it didn’t look like much with just one cup of coconut milk. I forgot that I had to add flour. Oops. I had to mix it in very carefully. Speaking of flour, if you need to be dairy free, pay attention to what flour you use. Carol uses sweet rice flour but says you can use an all-purpose gluten free flour mixture. I used Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix. It has buttermilk solids. Not dairy free, but we don’t need to worry about that, here.
She doesn’t mention that the pastry batter will be a little runny. Mine was, and I was positive that I was going to end up with flat, burnt discs that my husband could use as pucks at his next hockey practice. I was moping around the house, all upset. (It was really a stronger word than upset, but I am curbing my swearing with a toddler around that repeats everything I say.) Sam asked my why I was upset, and I told him that I ruined the recipe. I had to have the blog done the next day, and I would have to write about how really can’t bake at all.
We walked back into the kitchen. Well, Sam walked. I moped some more. He turned on the oven light and looked inside. Then he said they were rising. Not a nice joke. Except it wasn’t a joke. They were rising. So I’m not so inept after all.
But beware. Carol says to cook it for 20 minutes but to watch the pastry because it may take more or less time due to how much batter is used for each pastry. Definitely do that. I looked at 10 minutes, and they were a little past light golden brown. I turned off the oven, but I should have turned it off a bit sooner. The first batch turned out just a tad over done. Not much, though.
Here is where I messed up a little more. Because I had so much batter left after the first batch, I put it in the fridge while I cooked the first batch. Don’t do that. The next batch was two cookie sheets worth; both in the oven at the same time. The top sheet rose, but had no bottoms. The bottom sheet wasn’t done enough. They started to fall. So I turned the oven back on after I took out the top sheet. Another dumb move. I ended up with burnt, crest fallen pastries. The bottom sheet ones got thrown out. The top sheet ones get torn apart and dunked in the cream. What? It still tastes good. It just doesn’t look very pretty.
So next came the “cream”. It’s non-dairy because it’s made with coconut milk instead of regular cow’s milk. It ends up with a bit of coconut flavor, but I really like it. Now, here is where I went wrong with that. I made the pastries in the afternoon when my son was napping, but I didn’t want to try to make the cream with him running around, wanting my attention. I knew I would miss something, so I waited until after he went to bed for the night. Well, it was then that I realized that I didn’t have granulated sugar. The box that was on the top shelf in the back that I just knew was granulated sugar, magically became powdered sugar when I brought it down from the shelf. How did that happen? So I used brown sugar instead. Hence the yellowish look of the cream. It still tastes good, though. I must emphasis this.
The other bad part of starting the cream at 8:45pm. (I had to let the yolks get to room temperature, and I was eating dinner so I wouldn’t eat all of the pastries.) It needs to cool in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Needless to say, I was not going to wait up until midnight just to put this together to snap a photo, let alone eat it that late and be wired until 2am.
So that was it. My experience with “cream” puffs. I assembled one this morning. Here is the lovely photo.
I did cheat and use chocolate syrup on top, so that is one more way that it isn’t really dairy free. Carol gives you a recipe for ‘Dairy Free Chocolate Ganache’ to put on top, or she also recommends powdered sugar. Guess I could have used the powdered sugar there. Oops, again.
So, all in all, I recommend this recipe for anyone who needs/wants to be gluten and dairy free, but also wants to look like a whiz in the kitchen. It really is easy, just follow the directions to the letter.
Until later, here’s to… Living better, easily!™ And tastily, in this case.
Yay! Time for some sugar!