Depending on how you look at it, gougères can be a cheesy Burgundian specialty that makes for an elegant amuse-bouche or a fancy-pants cheese puff. Either way, they are just about perfect with any sort of apéritif, whether it's a cold beer or a chilled glass of Champagne.
These gougères from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser were adapted from New York's Eleven Madison Park, and translate into the home kitchen beautifully. The warm choux pastry is much simpler to put together than you'd imagine, and once the dough is piped onto baking sheets the little gougères puff up like a dream. Hesser urges you to eat them right away while they're still steaming to fully appreciate all of their puffy, cheesy goodness.
Reprinted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. Compilation copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company and Amanda Hesser. Recipes and reprinted text copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
- Yield:4 1/2 dozen gougères
- 1 cup water
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- About 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup bread flour
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups), plus extra for sprinkling
Heat the oven to 350°F if you will be baking the gougères right away. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Bring the water, butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the cayenne to a boil in a small saucepan. Place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, add the boiling water mixture, and blend well (or use a wooden spoon and a large bowl; don't use a whisk—the dough is too heavy). Beat in the eggs one at a time until the dough is smooth. Beat in the cheese and mix until the dough is thick and the cheese has mostly melted. Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a medium (1/4-inch) plain tip.
Pipe the dough into a small (3/4-inch-diameter) mounds on the lined baking sheets. Sprinkle each with a pinch of grated cheese and salt. The gougères can be baked right away for refrigerated or frozen before baking.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and puffed about 3 times the size of their original size. Don't open the oven door for at least the first 12 minutes, to keep them from deflating. Serve and eat IMMEDIATELY!