Learning by doing (wrong)

We’re back in France (and back on schedule)! After all the holiday travel and baked goods, it was hard to even think about jumping back into the kitchen to cook anything except veggies. And honestly France has been the hardest country to find recipes for, since many require gluten or dairy or nuts, so this post was a struggle. But I rallied (thanks to some French wine) and this week I tried my hand at a gluten and dairy free choux and a chocolate chip cookie bar. Let’s just say I learned a lot this weekend.

DW: I learned that you didn’t say “shoe,” which is ridiculous because I took four years of French ages ago and really should have known better.

Local Fare

LW: Choux! I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making choux, because it’s such a versatile pastry. It didn’t seem like something that would work without gluten and dairy, but I stumbled upon a recipe by Bob’s Red Mill, so I thought I’d give it a shot! I’m going to share what I learned, because this first attempt at this choux was a learning experience.

First off, here is the recipe on Bob’s Red Mill site. I only made the choux, not the whipped cream, so I only needed to make one replacement.

Bob’s Red Mill

Gluten Free Cream Puffs

LIZ's changes

  • Vegan butter for dairy butter, one for one replacement

Now I’ve watched the Great British Baking Show (a lot), so I felt like I had a solid idea of the process to make choux. I tried to follow it and found out one important thing: you do not need to mix the flour into the butter/water combination for long. Normal choux requires this to be done for 6-7 minutes I think, but doing it with gluten free flour and dairy free butter just forces the butter to melt out. So quickly dump the flour per the recipe, mix until just combined, and then move it into your stand mixer. I did get my vegan butter to combine back in eventually, but there was a lot of cursing that happened during this stage.

Another important lesson on choux: trust your gut. There was a stage when I was adding the egg that I thought, “This choux looks great. It’s making the V it’s supposed to!” But there were still probably two eggs to add and I thought I should follow the recipe. End result: I over-egged my choux. You can’t save over-egged choux. And over-egged choux spreads rather than puffs up. I got one tray of the pastry to look pretty good, but the rest were flat. (This also led to a lot of cursing…) They tasted fine, but looked a mess. Oh well!

DW: They actually tasted more than fine! Just a touch of sweetness, and super light. Great with or without the whipped cream.

LW: I am definitely going to try this recipe again, and will share the results here. I also want to figure out some fillings that I can eat, since we just filled the puffs with whipped cream for the photos.

Liz-friendly fare

Somehow I haven’t made any bar desserts for the blog yet, so today seemed like a great day to rectify this! (Also we had two hours before we needed to leave for the kiddo’s gymnastics competition, so I needed something quick.) Chocolate chip cookie bars seemed a perfect choice, since I had everything on hand and how could chocolate chip cookie bars go wrong?

DW: I bet I could make them go wrong! I can certainly make them go missing.

LW: The recipe is from My Gluten-free Kitchen, a blog I hadn’t baked from before and was eager to try. Since it was gluten free by design, it also required minimal changes.

My Gluten-free Kitchen

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

LIZ's changes

  • Vegan butter for dairy butter, one for one replacement

  • Cream cheese, omitted but used a full egg instead of only the yolk to add more moisture

I left out the cream cheese because I haven’t found any Liz-friendly cream cheeses yet. Maybe one day there will be an oat milk or pea protein milk cream cheese…. The recipe called for melting the butter before adding the sugar, but it didn’t feel like I got much volume in the mix and if I make these again, I may try without melting the butter. I’ll also cook them for slightly less time, as they were a little darker than I wanted.

Overall the bars got a big thumbs up! They taste just like a chocolate chip cookie bar should. I have some to take to work tomorrow as well to see if they pass the test with people not related to me. 🙂 I used mini chocolate chips from Enjoy Life, but I think the bars might be even better with chocolate chunks. Guess I’ll have to experiment with that too!

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