A quick and easy gluten free take on classic French éclairs.
Eclairs make a great dessert or go really with with afternoon tea. These classic French pastries always look rather impressive, but they’re relatively easy to make once you know how.
Traditionally make with gluten-containing flour, my gluten free éclairs work just as well. Because they grow due to steam inside the choux pastry – not due to any kind of proving or raising – they don’t need a great deal of gluten elasticity in the flour. That being said, adding a little Xantham Gum to the flour mix never hurts to help them stretch and grow evenly.
Eclairs are always filled with whipped, thick cream, but you can decorate them however you like. Traditionally that’s with a chocolate ganache topping, but that can be quite unforgiving to make and can split easily if you take your eyes off it! Using something ready made and delicious – like Nutella or another chocolate spread – is a really easy shortcut to a nice finish and delicious éclairs.
You could just as easily make a big tower of profiteroles with this gluten free éclair recipe, by piping the choux pastry into fat round balls and filling with cream using a syringe or thin piping nozzle, poked through a small hole in the side of the bun.
My husband, Tom, is intolerant to both cacao and hazelnuts, so in addition to mixing a little salted caramel into the cream, I always top a few of the gluten free éclairs with the salted caramel sauce, so that he can enjoy them too!
Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan 200°C/425°/Gas 7). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
In a pan add the water and butter. Gently heat until the butter melts and then turn up the heat until the mixture begins to boil.
In a separate bowl mix together the flour and Xantham gum.
Once the butter and water mix has reached boiling point remove from the heat and beat in the flour/Xantham gum mix. Continue to mix until it forms a soft dough.
Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time beating vigorously between each egg. I find using an electric mixer is the easiest way to do this. The mixture should be smooth and glossy.
Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm (½ in) plain nozzle.
Pipe the mixture onto the baking sheet into approx 15cm lengths, leaving room between each éclair for them to spread out a little.
Place into the hottest part of the oven – usually the top shelf – and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C (fan 170°C/375°F/Gas 5) and bake for a further 20 minutes until golden brown. Ensure they are golden brown all over as any pale parts will go soggy once cooled!
Upon removing from the oven split the eclairs down the side and cool on a wire rack.
Once the éclairs have cooled, whip the cream (adding salted caramel sauce to taste) and spoon or pipe it into the bottom half of the éclairs.
Spoon Nutella into a piping bag fitted with a decorative nozzle of your choice and pipe the nutella onto the top of each éclair.
Once cream is added to the éclairs store in an airtight container in the fridge – decorate with cream as near to serving time as possible to avoid the choux pastry going soggy.
In the batch of éclairs that I made I decorated 6 with Nutella and 6 with the salted caramel sauce on top.
If you are making the choux pastry in advance this can be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place until you are ready to decorate the éclairs.
Make sure you don't open the oven while baking the choux pastry – if you let the steam out then it will restrict their growth!