These crisp, savory cheese puffs are made with a choice of Cheese and Chive, Gruyère and Green Chili, Cheddar and Pecan, or Roquefort and Walnut. Serve them cold as they do at wine tastings in French cellars, or hot as a party appetizer. At 3 grams of carbohydrate per piece, even those on a low-carb diet can indulge in a nibble. The plain dough is used to make profiteroles, cream puffs and eclairs, among other things.
If you want to make these with wheat flour, substitute 1 cup (240 ml) all-purpose flour for the gluten-free flours in the recipe and proceed as directed. While you can easily mix these by hand if you’re making them with wheat flour, use a stand mixer for the gluten-free version. Unlike those made with wheat, the butter will separate from the gluten-free dough after cooking and the eggs are difficult to mix in by hand, but the dough will regain the proper consistency if mixed in a stand mixer.
If you’re making the Cheese and Green Chili variation, use canned, whole green chilies rather than chopped ones, so that you avoid the seeds and bits of skin.
Gluten-free Cheese Puffs
Makes 3 dozen, adapted from “Cook Now, Serve Later”
Basic Dough (Pâte à Choux):
1 cup (240 ml) water
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) salt
94 grams (2/3 cup or 160 ml) super fine rice flour (white or brown)
32 grams (3 tablespoons or 45 ml) potato starch
16 grams (2 tablespoons or 30 ml) tapioca flour
4 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely shredded Parmesan cheese, optional
Add one of these variations:
Gruyère and Green Chili
1 can (4 ounces /113 grams) whole, mild green chilies, rinsed and chopped
5 ounces (140 grams) or 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) shredded Gruyère cheese
Cheese and Chive
2 tablespoons finely minced chives or green onion (green part only)
5 ounces (140 grams) or 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) shredded Swiss cheese
Cheddar and Pecan
1/2 cup (120 ml) lightly toasted, chopped pecans
5 ounces (140 grams) or 1 1/2 cups (360) shredded, extra-sharp cheddar
Roquefort and Walnut
1/2 cup (120 ml) lightly toasted, chopped walnuts
3 ounces (84 grams) crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese
Put the racks in the middle and top of the oven. Preheat the oven to 475° F (246° C). Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together the rice flour, potato starch and tapioca in a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium pan, combine the water, butter and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add all of the flour at once and stir constantly until a ball of dough forms. Remove from the heat and transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer. If you are using gluten-free flour the dough will not look like dough made with wheat. It’s okay if the butter seeps out of the dough. Let the dough cool for 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on high speed after each addition. Continue mixing on high after the last egg is added, until the dough completely absorbs the eggs and it becomes smooth and glossy. This may take a few minutes, so be patient.
Add the ingredients from one of the variations and mix until combined. Either transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a plain large tip (number 6 or 8), or use a tablespoon to place 1 inch (2.5 cm) mounds of dough on the baking sheets. If desired, sprinkle a little finely shredded Parmesan cheese on top of each mound of dough.
Bake for 10 minutes at 475° F (246° C), then reduce the temperature to 375° F (190° C) and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the trays from the oven and gently prick each puff with a fork, then return the trays to the oven and lower the temperature to 325° F (162° C). Bake for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the puffs are golden and crisp. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool. If not serving the same day, freeze the puffs in a plastic freezer bag. Reheat in a 375° F (190° C) oven for about 10 minutes.