If you've ever tasted a gougère — essentially savory cheese-flecked cousins of cream puffs and eclairs — then little needs to be said in order to convince you to head to the kitchen to whip up a batch of these luxurious appetizers. If not, I'll keep it simple: airy and light, with just enough nutty cheese to keep things lively, these pâte-à-choux party favorites will go fast if included in a party spread.
Put off by the slightly strange method of cookery that's outlined in the recipe below? Don't be. It may be a slight step outside of your baking repertoire if you've yet to try your hand at any treats in the choux-pastry family, but their assembly is actually quite simple and intuitive and can be made in large party-friendly quantities in precious few minutes. Keep reading for the easy yet impressive recipe.
For a killer pairing, serve these with crisp sparkling wine — rich and salty snacks, particularly those that involve cheese, are even more delectable when served with a bottle of bubbly.
Adapted from Epicurious
While gruyère is traditional, other sharp, nutty cheeses can be substituted (sharp cheddar, like Cabot clothbound, would be particularly lovely).
1 cup water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) grated gruyère cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In a medium (preferably not nonstick) saucepan heat the water until steaming. Add the butter, salt, sugar, mustard, and cayenne pepper. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter has completely melted.
- Slowly add the flour to the hot liquid while stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the flour is completely incorporated, and the mixture comes together into a tacky ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan when stirred.
- Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat in the eggs, one at a time, until they're absorbed by the batter and it's smooth, sticky, and waxy in appearance. Fold in the gruyère.
- Fill a pastry bag with the gougère dough, and pipe one-inch swirls of dough onto the parchment-lined pans. Using damp fingertips, gently smooth down any spikes (from where the pastry bag was lifted up) in the dough, so that they don't get too brown.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until they've puffed up and are lightly brown on top. After they've cooled for a couple minutes, use the tip of a very sharp knife to poke a small slit in the side of each gougère to release steam and prevent them from turning soggy. Serve warm (or rewarm in the oven before serving, if they're cool).
Yield: about 40 gougères (each about 1 1/2 inches).