Gougère may be more commonly known, or easily recognized as cheese puffs. It uses a standard pate a choux as a base with cheese folded in at the end. These make the perfect little pre dinner snack, something to go with your glass of wine while you're cooking, and something to keep your guests happy until dinner is ready. Perhaps you are celebrating with a bottle of champagne and want something to go with it? Maybe you want an inventive garnish for tomato soup? They can be filled with a savory mousse for a simple but elegant canapé . If you leave them empty and full of cheese these even work well as a finger food when hosting a kids birthday party perhaps... the point is they are VERY versatile and pretty darn addicting!
Gougère (makes about 48 small puffs)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk (any fat % will work)
8 TBS (4oz) butter (I substituted 1/2 of the butter for bacon fat)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour (preferably bread flour)
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) grated cheese*
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
*traditionally the cheese is gruyere (a kind of swiss cheese), I used 1 cup gruyere, and 1/4 cup parmesean. You can use any cheese you want and also fold in other items like herbs, nuts, bacon bits or substitute the nutmeg for another spice.
Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt. Bring this to a full rolling boil (if it's not a full boil the fat isn't evenly dispersed and you can end up in a very greasy looking dough). After it comes to a rolling boil, take it off the heat, add the flour all at once. Once all the flour is mixed in, return it to the heat and turn the flame to a medium high. Stir and cook until a film forms on the bottom of the pan. This should take only a minute or two. Take it off the heat and transfer the mixture to a mixer bowl. Let it cool until you can keep your hand on the bottom of the bowl. You can turn the mixer on (using a paddle attachment) and let it mix briefly to cool it down.** After cool, add the eggs one at a time making sure each egg is completely mixed before adding the next. You want to hold back the last egg and evaluate the batter, it may not need it. What you're looking for is if you were to drop a little bit onto a sheet pan (or the counter) it would hold it's shape relatively well. It should be loose enough that it easily drops off the spoon but stiff enough that once dropped onto the pan it keeps it's shape instead of slowly spreading out into a flat round. If it still seems stiff add the last egg, making sure to break it up and only add about 1/2 at a time. You can save the rest of that egg for egg wash. Fold in the cheese, nutmeg, and pepper (or any other add ins you wish). You can now pipe these onto a sheet pan (about the size of a quarter) that's been lined with parchment or lightly greased. Alternatively you and just use a teaspoon and portion out about a tablespoon per puff. The flatter they are when they are portioned out, the less round and risen they will be when baked. In the picture below I didn't have any piping bags so I had to use spoons, they work fine...
Brush some egg wash (1/2- 1 egg mixed with a splash of water) over each puff and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 375 and bake until a golden brown, rotating the pan half way through. You can freeze the dough after it's portioned out on the sheet pan and then bake right from the freezer or you can also freeze them after they are baked, and before serving just refresh in a 375 degree oven for a few minutes to re crisp them.
*the whole process can also be done by hand, stirring with a wooden spoon.