Gougeres: Cheese puffs that sound, and taste, better in French

“Gougeres” sounds better than “cheese puff”. It just does. Just as escargot sounds better than…snail. And “C’est la vie” is much, much better than “tough luck”. You get the idea. Such is the endless advantage of all things that are, or sound like they are, French.

And gougeres not only sound great, they look and taste great. As you would expect from a “puff”, gougeres are light and “puffy” in texture, like a popover. But gougeres also feature extra richness and flavor from butter and cheese that makes for a special combination. The French pretty much exist to come up with this stuff.

Of course you might think this would be a lot of work, but unlike many French dishes, gougeres are very easy to cook. Even better, you probably have everything you need to make them in the fridge right now (if not, ANY supermarket has the ingredients). And in 45 minutes, 60 minutes tops, you will have a versatile, gourmet treat .You can use gougeres as snacks, hors d’ouevres at parties, as the starch alongside a main dish or salad or as the bread in finger sandwiches. If you entertain, Gougeres are a go-to dish, as they look and taste “special”, require minimal effort and can be made ahead. It is not a surprise that caterers around the world serve them as hors d’ouevres at cocktail parties.

The recipe we use comes from a number of sources, but the main components come from Jaques Pepin. If you are cooking French food at home (or anything really) his recipes will work and he expertly explains any key techniques you may need for a particular dish. The only “challenge” to making gougeres is choosing whether to mix the dough manually or use a mixer. I mix manually, but I also provide notes on using a stand mixer. The recipe works either way. Even if you don’t bake regularly, you can make this dish.

 Gougeres (cheese puffs):

(makes about 15 gougeres)

Notes Before You Start:

–       The recipe is based on using Gruyere / Comte / Emmenthaler and Parmesan cheese. You can substitute other cheeses but they should be of similar hardness and flavor.

–       If you want to use a stand mixer, simply use a paddle attachment and follow the same instructions as hand-mixing.

What You Get: An attractive, tasty and versatile pastry you can enjoy at almost any time. No matter how often you make them, when you pull gougeres out of the oven, everyone says, “wow”.

What You Need: No special equipment required. A stand mixer can be used, if you prefer. A silicon mat is helpful but not required, otherwise, just use parchment paper. A 1-tablespoon disher is a useful tool to distribute the dough on the baking sheet, but any spoon or pastry bag (including a large plastic bag with the tip cut off) can also be used.

How Long? 45-60 minutes to complete the dish. No more than 20 minutes to make the dough and 20-30 minutes of baking time. Gougeres are an “anytime” dish.

You probably have this in your fridge right now

Ingredients:

–       ½ cup whole milk

–       3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces

–       ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

–       Pinch black pepper

–       Pinch cayenne pepper

–       ½ cup all purpose flour

–       2 large eggs

–       ¼ teaspoon paprika

–       ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

–       ¾ cup Gruyere, Comte or Emmenthaler cheese, grated

–       1 teaspoon coarse salt (for topping gougeres)

Assemble:

  1. Place rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place silicon mat or parchment paper on 18×12 inch baking sheet.
  2. Using a medium-sized saucepan at medium heat, combine milk, butter, kosher salt, black pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil.
  3. Once the milk mixture is boiling, remove from heat. All at once, add all of the flour. Stir mixture briskly, using a wooden spoon, until it forms a ball.
  4. Return the pan to the heat and stir for 1 minute to dry the mixture.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat. Spread the dough in the saucepan and allow it to cool to room temperature. (if using mixer, transfer to mixer bowl)
  6. Add paprika to dough. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until completely combined. (If using a mixer, add both eggs and paprika, and mix until combined)
  7. Add all of the Gruyere and half of the Parmesan to the dough and mix completely.
  8. Using disher, spoons or pastry bag, dispense 1-tablespoon dollops of dough, at least 1 inch apart, on baking sheet. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan and coarse salt atop each gougere.
  9. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotate pan after 15 minutes. Remove gougeres from oven when browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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