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Gluten-Free Croquembouche for Daring Bakers

by Lauren | Celiac Teen on May 27, 2010

Croquembouche or Piece Montée sounds so fancy and delicious. Not to mention deliciously French (just like the croissants that I made earlier this month!). In my (albeit limited) experience in baking, I have learned that French baked goods are very often dependent on butter, eggs and gluten. Sans gluten, they can lack something. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. In fact, with these, we couldn’t get enough. My cream puffs didn’t puff as much as some, but the flavour was all there. They almost didn’t make it into the croquembouche. Almost.

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri. Thank you to Cat for this delightful challenge. It was comforting, rich, and made my tummy happy. Especially with the pastry cream and the chocolate and the cream puffs and well, the whole thing. I only didn’t make caramel (an optional aspect) as I need a whole afternoon – a whole day – free of anything else to do other than focus on the caramel. Then, I’ll get it right. I just didn’t have that time this month. Ah, C’est la vie! I’m okay with that. And so is my belly (and those of my family :D).

After taking a few shots of this baby, I carried it around with me, offering some to my family, when I got to my brother, he did a double take. His eyes filled with excitement as he mentally ate the chocolate explosion in front of him, and when he did actually eat it, you could just tell it was good. Not that I needed to ask anyone. It was clear from the moment I took a bite. Or five. In fact, I had to make sure that no one ate all of the cream puffs beforehand, as everyone but the dog had a taste (or four!) before I formed them into this belle piece montée.

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Gluten-Free Cream Puffs
by Lauren of Celiac Teen

1/2 cup millet flour (2.80 oz)
1/4 cup cornstarch (1.50 oz)
1 tbsp sweet rice flour (0.30 oz)
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

Whisk together flours, xanthan gum, salt and sugar in a small bowl.

Over medium-high heat in a medium-sized saucepan, bring the water up to a boil. When it’s almost boiling, add the butter. Once the butter has melted and the liquid is boiling, add in the entire flour mixture and stir quickly and constantly until it begins to pull away from the edges, in a fairly uniform ball.

Take off the heat and let cool for a minute or two, then beat in one egg until the mixture comes together into a uniform mixture again. Beat in each additional egg, one at a time, ensuring that they are fully incorporated into a smooth dough each time.

Place the dough into a pastry bag, then pipe out circles or strips, an inch apart. Bake for 23 to 26 minutes, until golden brown.

Piped, precious and all ready to go.

I made small ones, medium sized ones, and almost éclair-ish ones.

Then I had fun dipping in chocolate (LOTS of chocolate) and piping with pastry cream (which also filled all of my cream puffs).

Yes, I sure did have fun. Hearts and things to make not only your tummy smile, but your face too!

In case you didn’t notice before, I also piped the name of some webamablogishicalthingamajig. And yes, I’m talking about my blog, where you are right now!

Have a bite. You only need one! (Although I would dare you not to eat any more. I’m not sure it can be done. Or at least not by me 😉 ).

In case you haven’t noticed, this has been a really busy month. (And I missed Daring Cooks. I really hope to make it sometime soon. If I can find the time, I will!).  Summer, you like to tease us, and I can’t wait for you to come in full force.  I have a feeling that this is going to be a summer to remember :).


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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) May 27, 2010 at 12:23 am

Very nicely done. Love it! Love all the loves and hugs written on them~~~~

Emma @CakeMistress May 27, 2010 at 12:24 am

“he mentally ate the chocolate explosion in front of him” – GOLD. I can picture his face now :)
I love the heart piping decorations on your croquembouche. Beautiful work

Jenn May 27, 2010 at 1:13 am

C’est adorable!!! J’adore ton croquembouche sans gluten! Très impressionnant!

Nisrine@Dinners & Dreams May 27, 2010 at 4:31 am

Such pretty croquembouches. Hard to believe they’re gluten-free!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 27, 2010 at 5:01 am

So adorable! I love the piping 😀

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite May 27, 2010 at 5:53 am

Lauren you totally nailed this challenge! I took a bit of liberty with this one for a number of reasons but I was happy that I managed to make the pastry puffs ok!! I will attempt a real croquembouche sometime! Yours is too cute!

Shelley May 27, 2010 at 6:44 am

LOL – everyone but the dog. :)
Beautiful work. And I love the ones decorated with the white chocolate, too. You can totally see the deliciousness in the pictures, and your personality in the presentation! Awesome job!!

Wolf May 27, 2010 at 8:23 am

If you never mentioned them being gluten free, I bet no one would be able to tell simply by looking at them.

Adorable! }:P

Megan May 27, 2010 at 8:23 am

I haven’t made mine yet but I’ll be doing so this weekend. I love how easily you’re adapting these Daring Bakers’ challenges! Why don’t you have a book deal yet, woman?!

Asha@FSK May 27, 2010 at 8:35 am

Lauren, admire all your creations for these challenges and how beautifully you adapt the recipes to be gluten free.. love the warm frostings on the profiteroles!:))

Iris May 27, 2010 at 9:56 am

That’s such a cute arrangement! Your brother’s so lucky to be your taste tester!

Basht May 27, 2010 at 10:33 am

it looks so cute!

gfe--gluten free easily May 27, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Beautiful as usual and charming write-up, also per usual! We’re both in the puff mode, aren’t we? Savory for me and sweet for you. 😉


Paula - bell'alimento May 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm

So cute! I’m going to have to try the gluten free version so my little man can enjoy it too : ) Just Beauty-full

Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) May 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Wow! I think they turned out just fine sans the gluten. Look great anyway. Cute signature picture! So creative.

Calantha May 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Wow, great job! Those look so adorable!

Linda V May 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Too cute with the hugs and kisses. I can’t believe celiac friendly puffs can look so good. My mother in law and most of my in laws have celiac and it’s a challenge to me.

Nancy May 27, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Oh, how I would love to pop a few of those tasty morsels into my mouth. They look spectacular.

Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free May 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I love your croquembouche! And, honestly, who doesn’t love eggs, milk, and butter? I agree – one can’t quite get enough of these delicious little gems. Congrats on another fabulous challenge!!

Jennifurla May 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm

AHHH, the personal message on the puffs is ridiculously cute and dainty. Lovely job!

Ms. Whiteplates May 27, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Your piping is delightful! You have steady hand with the piping bag … mine’s a little shaky.

Mary May 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Very nice, and I love the piping–especially since it means even more custard!

Jeanne May 27, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I love the piping! You’re a gluten free genius – these puffs look like they really puffed! Excellent work!

Maybelles mom May 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Alright now I have to try your recipe for cream puffs. They look perfect.

Meg May 27, 2010 at 7:06 pm

These are very impressive! They look so cute the way you’ve decorated them, too. What recipe did you use for the pastry cream?

Heidi Kelly May 27, 2010 at 7:57 pm


You always bring a smile to my face with your beautiful gluten free treats and your amazing skill with the written word.


Amber May 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm

These are so cute! I love the decorating you did :) Great job!

Carol, Simply...Gluten-free May 27, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Lovely! I just joined Daring Bakers and I can’t wait for my first challange. Great job!

art and lemons May 27, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Lauren, your gluten-free cream puffs are absolute perfection! Great recipe adaptation too.

Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz May 27, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Very cute with the hearts. Awesome challenge you did.

ap269 May 28, 2010 at 1:58 am

Wow, they look like the real thing! I couldn’t tell from the picture that they are gluten-free! Good job on the challenge. Love your creamy signature on the eclairs ;o).

Renata May 28, 2010 at 6:33 am

Lauren, I love your Pièce! I’m specially proud of you DB’s who can adapt anything to gluten free. And they look as delicious! Bravo! Thanks for your lovely comment on my post!

Linda May 28, 2010 at 11:54 am

GF cream puffs? I am in heaven! Well…more like my friend will be once I make these. I love the pipping of your blog title. So creative!

Zoe @ Z's Cup of Tea May 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Oh dear, now I have another cream puff recipe to try! Haha. They look fabulous, Lauren! I’m wondering, what role does the xanthum gum play in this recipe? I made the puff pancake batter for my tarte tatin pancake with and without the xanthum gum, on separate tries, and both worked out. I actually preferred the pancake made without the xanthum gum.

Patty May 28, 2010 at 1:07 pm

So cute!!! It looks delicious!! With all the X-O, it’s clear that it’s been baked with love. Love it!

Lauren | Celiac Teen May 28, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Meg, I just used the provided recipe for the challenge, which you can find on the Daring Kitchen website :).

Zoe, The xanthan gum is to give it some structure and keep it together. In some types of baked goods it doesn’t matter as much, but others it does.

Lo81 May 29, 2010 at 3:19 am

Hi Lauren, the puffs are perfect and your croquembouche is lovely! Well done!

Ago May 29, 2010 at 3:26 am

Hi Lauren!
It’s the first time that I seen GF puffs..GREATTT!!!!
I would try your recipe! 😉
Beautiful your piece montée with all the little hearts and XO 😀
Wonderfull challenge!

deeba May 29, 2010 at 4:45 am

Well done indeed Lauren … it’s gorgeous & GF? WOW!!

Michelle May 29, 2010 at 9:42 am

Wow! Gluten-free and gorgeous!

sandie May 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm

your pastry looks great Lauren- good work

Jean at The Delightful Repast June 1, 2010 at 10:21 am

Lauren, these look fabulous (as do all of your photos!). I’ll have to make these next time one of my gluten-free friends is coming over.

Zoe @ Z's Cup of Tea June 1, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Hey again, Lauren – I just made these today! Mine didn’t come out looking as pretty or polished as yours, though. I spooned the dough on to the pan (with parchment paper), a tablespoon of dough per puff. I guess spooning the batter versus piping might have made a difference in appearance? They also didn’t reach that same golden brown; I took them out after 11 minutes when I smelled that they were starting to burn – they’re kind of yellowish and the bottoms are thoroughly browned – that brown that’s just one level away from being burned black. Despite taking them out earlier, they were baked through and puffed! Although they did kind of sank fairly quickly after taking them out of the oven. I also made it dairy-free by using coconut oil instead of butter. I took some pictures and I’ll try uploading one of them later to Flickr so you can see.

Megan June 2, 2010 at 3:59 am

Well done!!! they look delicious!

shaz June 7, 2010 at 8:54 am

Gorgeous work Lauren, especially thge name! Very cute and they do look extremely yummy too.

glutenfreelissy July 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Wow you’ve done a fantastic job with these. I went to a birthday party on the weekend and there was a non gluten free one. They really do make a breathtaking dessert. Not sure how game I am to replicate!

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