You’re probably familiar with cream puff pastry (pâte à choux) in sweet pastries, such as cream puffs and eclairs. However, you can also use the basic pastry to make savory cheese puffs called gougères.
Believed to have originated in Burgundy, gougères make a perfect accompaniment to kir (a popular aperitif made with white wine and crème de cassis), another Burgundian contribution to gastronomy.
Although gougères are best served shortly after baking, you can prepare them ahead and store the raw puffs in the freezer. When you’re ready to serve them, just pop them in the oven, and you’ll have an impressive amuse-bouche that’s sure to please your guests!
Equipment: baking sheets; stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or food processor (optional); piping bag (optional); pastry brush.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, plus 1 egg for egg wash
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
- Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Add cayenne to flour and place beside the stove. Place ¾ cup water, butter, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to melt the butter. Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove the pan from the heat. Add the flour mixture all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to dry the mixture slightly. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or food processor fitted with metal chopping blade. Crack 3 eggs into a measuring cup and blend with a fork. With the mixer at medium speed, add one third of the eggs; beat until incorporated. Repeat with second third of the eggs and then with remaining egg. Test the consistency of the dough by lifting a large spoonful of dough. It should flow slowly from the spoon. If it is too stiff to flow from the spoon, add a little of the remaining egg that has been reserved for egg wash. (If you don’t have a stand mixer or food processor, you can leave the dough in the saucepan and beat in the eggs by hand.) Stir in cheese.
- Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip. Alternatively, use plastic food-storage bag with a ½-inch opening cut at one corner. Pipe mounds, about 1 inch in diameter, well-spaced, onto the prepared baking sheets. (Alternatively, use 2 teaspoons or a small cookie scoop.) Using a moistened fingertip, flatten the pointed tips. Blend any remaining egg with the remaining with 1 tablespoon water with a fork in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the mounds with the egg wash. (You can prepare gougères ahead of time up to this point. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Once the gougères are frozen solid, transfer them to a food storage bag. Close the bag tightly and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, arrange the frozen puffs—do not thaw—on a parchment-lined baking sheet and continue with the recipe.)
- Bake, one sheet at a time, for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400ºF and bake until puffed, golden brown and crisp, 15 to 25 minutes longer. Let cool completely on a rack.
Yield: about 5 ½ dozen cheese puffs.