I think we all have those recipes we intend to make, but never get around to. They hide in the back of recipe boxes, or in the Internet-age, our bookmark list. We frequently overlook them in favor of whatever is dazzling us at the moment. And then if we’re lucky, when the time is finally right, we come back to them. That is the case with me and Gougeres. Whenever I get one as an amuse bouche at a restaurant, it makes me smile. (Given that I love cheese…and carbs, this is definitely not a shocker.) Yet, I often overlook making them at home. There is always something that stops me. I don’t have the right ingredients on hand. They seem too delicate for the occasion. The excuses go on and on. But this weekend when faced with an invitation to a cocktail & appetizer party and no inspiration to speak of, the recipe finally seemed perfect.
For those who are unfamiliar, Gougeres are a savory French pastry made from a pate au choux. They are light, fluffy and airy in the inside with a pleasantly crisp crust, the kind of food that is incredibly easy to overeat and hard to put down. They are traditionally made with Gruyere, as I used in this recipe, but it seems like you could easily customize based on your favorite cheese of choice. Best of all, they are easy, which is something I cannot say about a lot of pastry dough! I may find puff pastry to be a bit of an endeavor, but these little gems are, dare I say, a cinch to make. Although we best not let that secret to get out because when people taste these little bites you’ll become the recipient of lots of verbal praise, as I learned first hand this weekend. Best of all, they travel well. I baked mine off at home and then reheated them in my host’s oven until warm at 350 degrees F (about 5-10 minutes) and they came out perfect as if they were fresh out of the oven. These are great on their own, but I love them with local honey. The sweetness is welcome and well balanced by the savory and salty in the puffs.
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
Yields approximately 4 dozen
-1 cup water
-1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, roughly chopped
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-4-5 large eggs
-1 1/2 cups finely grated Gruyere cheese
-2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
-Rounded 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place your racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine water, butter, and salt over medium high heat. Continue to cook, stirring, until butter has melted and mixture has come to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium low and flour all at once, stirring vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 30 seconds. Continue to cook and stir for an additional 1 1/2 minutes to remove more moisture. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly for about 3 1/2 minutes.
Add your eggs, one at a time, beating each egg into the mixture until it is incorporated. The batter will appear to separate at first, but will then come together in a dough. Continue adding the eggs one at a time until the dough is glossy and just stiff enough to hold peaks, but pliable enough to fall softly from a spoon. This may or may not require the last egg, so monitor your dough accordingly. Stir in the cheese, pepper, and nutmeg until well incorporated.
Fill a pastry bag (or Ziplock bag with a snipped corner) with the dough and pipe 1-inch rounds onto your baking sheets, approximately 1-inch apart. Continue until you have used all the dough. Bake in the oven, switching positions of your sheets half way through, until the gougeres are puffed, golden, and crisp, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.
What about you? Is there a recipe you’ve been meaning to make but keep putting off?