Gougères

Gougères.  Just saying the name makes me feel fancy.  Even if I’m just saying it to myself in my head.  What are gougères you may ask? They are lovely little puffs made with choux pastry.  Oh, and they’re cheesy. I think I’ve effectively imparted my affinity for cheese (also for appetizers and particularly anything that combines the two) by this point in time, so it should come as no surprise to any of you that these were up there on my list of recipes to try.

Know what choux pastry is? I didn’t either, or should I say, I didn’t know the technical name for it. Luckily for you, I am the kind of person who researches pretty much everything I come across. That’s right, I had wikipedia out the entire time I was reading “The Other Boleyn Girl” so I could learn about the real lives of every person involved in Henry VIII’s life.  It’s kind of a disease and it’s only gotten worse with the influx of smart phones and my ability to google anything 24 hours a day.  Obviously I had to learn  just what these little puffs were all about.

Choux pastry is the base dough from which eclairs, begneits and churros are made from (to scratch the surface – choux is everywhere).  All delicious things, which led me to believe these gougeres were going to be scrumptious as well (they were). Basically, a choux is made from only water, butter flour and egg, without the addition of a rising ingredient to the pastry dough. Instead, the high moisture level creates steam, which then puffs the pastry.  Interesting, right?

Gougères (recipe found at smittenkitchen.com, from Jacques Pepin, Food & Wine)

1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese (I used the Trader Joes Gruyere Cheddar mix)
Coarse salt to sprinkle on top

In a saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a boil. Add salt and cayenne, stir to combine evenly.

Remove from heat, add the flour all at once and mix vigorously until thoroughly combined. The original directions say that the mixture should form a ball, mine was not quite liquid enough to do so.  I was only making a half batch, so it’s possible some of the measurements were off a little bit (but of course that’s because it was a half batch, and not my error, right??) Return pan to heat and cook on medium for about a minute. Transfer to a bowl or food processor and let cool (for about 5 minutes).

While it’s cooling, grate the cheese. 

Add egg and paprika to dough mixture. Pulse for 10-15 seconds until dough is combined and even.

Transfer the dough to a bowl to cool again for approximately 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. 

To the dough, add all cheese except a heaping tablespoon of the parmesan. Mix just enough to incorporate evenly. Do not over mix, I have a feeling your pastries won’t be light and fluffy if you do.

Scoop out a tablespoon of dough and push off spoon onto a non-stick cooking sheet or parchment paper on a cookie sheet. I didn’t have either so I used tin foil, and it made the bottoms of mes petit amis (my little friends) pretty crispy.  I’m feeling quite french, can you tell?

Sprinkle a few grains of salt and the remaining parmesan cheese over the tops of the gougères. Bake for around 30 minutes or until browned. Mine cooked for much less time, but I think my apartment sized and easily overheated oven may have been the culprit.

Aren’t they so lovely from above? These thinks are so addicting. Plus they are in my favorite form (mini) and they’re delicious!

I am striving for airier next time.  I’m still pretty addicted to them. How could I not be?

-k

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