Introduction: Cheese Puffs - Gougeres
My all time favorite cheesy puff pastry has to be the French gougeres (pronounced GOO-zher). It is savory, versatile, and delicious - certain to be a crowd pleaser. There are as many ways to make gougeres as there are chefs in France, so what I hope to present here is a simple version meant for those who have not made a French puff pastry before. The dough, called pâte à choux, is also used to make sweet cream puffs, so once you have the skill down, all sorts of possibilities open up.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4-5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated cheese (Gruyere is traditional, but you can use any cheese you like)
Step 1: Boil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a saucier at high heat* add milk, butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring to a rapid boil. Stir slowly, but constantly, to prevent scorching.
*NOTE:If you are using stainless steel like I am, high is medium on your stove, otherwise you will scorch your milk
Step 2: Flour
Turn the heat down to about medium-low and add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously to incorporate flour. A flour crust will form on the sides of the saucier, this is normal.* Once the flour is incorporated and the dough has formed, continue stirring for another minute or two, this will dry out the dough a little. Remove the dough from the stove and add to a stand mixer bowl or a stainless steel bowl if you are brave enough to do the next steps manually.
*NOTE:It can also be a nightmare to clean. The only way I have found to do it without damaging my saucier and and pulling my hair out is to use an erasing foam.
Step 3: Eggs
At this point if you don't have a mixer, you probably will want one by the end. With the dough still hot, add one egg at a time and mix until fully incorporated. You don't have to put the mixer on super high, in fact, I rarely put mine above the lowest speed. Continuing adding one egg at a time, ensuring each one is incorporated. When the dough comes back together, stop adding eggs. You will likely only need four.* Add the cheese and mix until incorporated.
*NOTE:See the pictures above for a view of what happens when you add one egg too many. Don't worry, your gougeres are not ruined, the dough is just really sticky.
Step 4: Drop and Bake
With a spoon, a cookie scoop, or a pastry bag (I recommend the cookie scoop for your first time, the pastry bag approach can be a little challenging), drop the dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between each puff. The puffs should be about a tablespoon each. You will likely fill two baking sheets. Place both in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. After 12 minutes, remove the baking sheets and spin them 180 degrees, moving the top one to the bottom and the bottom one to the top. Continue baking for 12 more minutes.* Remove from oven and enjoy while still warm. We like to eat ours with a nice selection of charcuterie.
*NOTE:12 minutes and 12 minutes gives you soft, yummy puffs that are best enjoyed while still warm. If you bake for 15 minutes and 15 minutes, the gougeres are more golden colored, crisper on the outside, and will still be enjoyable the next day.