Cream Puffs with Goat Cheese and Ponderosa Pine Cream
There is a special form of communication that takes place when food nerds have a gathering. Initial hugs and greetings are swiftly followed by a flurry of action, as hands reach into bag and cross to exchange food gifts. This is how we communicate, how we show affection. The exchange is a direct extension from the heart of our kitchen to the hearts of our friends.
Just this sort of exchange took place the other day when I met a few of my fellow food geeks for lunch. The bemused host at the restaurant where we met noted, you guys always come with... accessories.
Among other lovely things, I was bestowed with a jar of sweet raw cream from my friend Kat. That girl knows how I roll. Turns out, that cream was just what I needed to break free from my uninspired, mid-winter kitchen blues. Suddenly, I found myself daydreaming about the oddest of things - dessert. I, the gal with a nearly absent sweet tooth who is most days too lazy to bake, desired cream puffs.
It was surprisingly easy to create a gluten-free version of cream puffs. I've not made these since I was in high school French, but I think this gluten-free version is very good. In fact, I strongly feel that the resulting pastry is indistinguishable from the version made with wheat. This is very good news for the future. My mind is already dancing around ways to fill these shells with all sorts of foods, from cold trout salad to barbequed beast.
The unfilled pastry shells freeze well.
Gluten-Free Cream Puffs
1 c. rice flour
1/2 c. sweet rice flour
1/8 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. water
1 c. milk
6 Tbsp. butter
1 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. goat cheese
2 tsp. ponderosa pine elixir* (or vanilla)
2 Tbsp. chocolate chips, melted
1/2 tsp. olive oil
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the pastry.
Meanwhile, in a medium pan, bring water, milk, and butter to a simmer over medium heat.
Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring for a few minutes more, until a good ball of dough forms, and a film forms over the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat, and beat in one egg at a time.
Drop large spoonfuls of the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (makes approximately 24 shells). Bake for 15 minutes in an oven which has been heated to 425 degrees (F). Reduce the heat to 350, and bake an additional 30 minutes.
Turn the oven off, open the door a crack, and let the puffs remain inside for another hour as the oven cools.
Remove the puffs from the oven. Cut a slit in the side of each to further aid the escape of steam. Let them cool completely on a rack.
In a large bowl, beat the cream, goat cheese, and Ponderosa pine elixir to stiff peaks. Place the flavored cream into a bag, cut off a corner of the bag, then pipe the cream into the center of each puff.
Using a spoon, drizzle the filled shells with chocolate. Finish with a few flakes of good sea salt.
*Ponderosa pine elixir is quite similar to the Ponderosa pine honey in this post. Fill a jar with bits of the most fragrant Ponderosa pine bark you can find. Eyeballing it, cover the bark halfway with honey, then fill the remainder with brandy. Let sit 2-6 weeks before straining out the solids, and using the resulting ambrosia in recipes.