I can probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve had gougeres – for the uninitiated the best way to describe them are light and airy like cream puffs, but savory instead of sweet. We’ve never attempted to make them at home, though – it always seemed overly complex but we’ve found that the exact opposite is true.
These come together in a flash, and are quite popular when passed around at a party. So if you don’t know how to cook well but want people to think that you can, these little puffs of yum definitely fit the bill.
recipe courtesy Alain Ducasse
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. milk
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Large pinch of coarse salt
1 c. all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 1/2 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about 2 minutes.
Scrape the dough into a bowl; let cool for 1 minute. Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. Add the cheese and a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze. Reheat in a 350F oven until piping hot.
Notes: When making the choux pastry, it is important to be sure that each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next. Don’t worry if the batter separates and looks curdled at first. Keep beating, and it will come together nicely.
Gougeres freeze well. It might be fun to make extra with your club, so you can all take some home. After baking, allow them to cool completely. When you return home, spread the gougeres out on a baking sheet, cover the sheet with plastic wrap and freeze them until they are firm. Then store them in sturdy plastic bags for several months.