I wanted to cook something to go with the usual cheese assortment I serve while waiting for guests to arrive. These gougères (that’s French for cheese puffs y’all) looked like the perfect accompaniment. They’re not difficult to make even though I had never prepared a pâte à choux — cream puff dough — before.
Since the gougères should be served hot, I couldn’t do any advance preparation apart from measuring out ingredients. Things happened so quickly that I forgot to take photos of each step.
I started by heating the oven to 450°F and lining two half-sheet pans with Sipats. I combined a cup of water, seven tablespoons of butter, a tablespoon of salt, and a pinch of sugar in a saucepan and brought the mixture to a boil. I added five ounces of flour all at once, reduced the meat to medium, and stirred for two minutes while the mixture formed a ball.
I transferred the dough to my stand mixer and beat it for 30 seconds at medium speed to cool the dough slightly. I added four eggs and continued to mix until the dough was smooth and formed soft peaks. At this point I had successfully prepared a basic savory pâte à choux (woo-hoo!). I added 3/4 cup of grated Gruyère cheese and adjusted the seasoning with salt and white pepper.
I transferred the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8 inch tip, then piped 1-tablespoon sized mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving about two inches between each. With damp fingertips I patted down the little point of each piped mound to prevent burning.
I sprinkled a half teaspoon of grated Gruyère on top of each gougère.
The gougères baked for 10 minutes in the oven, until they were puffed, then I lowered the heat to 350°F and baked for another 20 minutes, until golden.
These were a big hit with the guests. When you bit into one you got a nice crunch from the shell, followed by a puff of warm, cheese-scented steam. The pepper provided a little extra bite to the subtle cheese flavor.
I served these with an artisanal Brie, a Keen’s farmhouse cheddar, and a Neal’s Yard Stilton — a bit of Borough Market nostalgia. We drank a 2007 Ravenswood Sangiacomo chardonnay:
A great start to a perfect evening.
Cheeses from Whole Foods
Wine from Ravenswood Winery