Since our home tends to be a revolving door of guests, whenever I plan on making Gougeres, I always “double-down” so I can store the extras in my freezer for future last-minute entertaining emergencies. This way, they are so easy to put in the oven and serve at a moment’s notice; the result is high-brow entertaining with low-stress preparation.
More familiarly know as a “cheese puff,” the gougère has a light, crispy exterior and velvet-soft center. Traditionally, the gougère is paired with Champagne (and really, who would ever want to mess with a tradition that gives you an excuse to pop open a bottle of bubbly?), which makes it a perfect appetizer for extra festive occasions like New Years Eve or just any ordinary Tuesday.
Without a doubt please serve these with champagne (don’t skip – if you’re not going to drink champagne at least try a sparkling wine from near the champagne region) but if you are going to go there, and you should — try this Philipponnat Brut Reserve Rose is not only gorgeous to look (OH, the color!!!) at but so “quafablable” I often have trouble controlling my urge for just one more glass. And as far as champagne goes, it’s pretty reasonable, too. This particular pink Champagne that can be found at the Rare Wine Company.
Makes 30-36 cheese puffs
Preheat the oven to 400° F
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup water
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
I tweaked this gougère recipe from one of my go-to books for French cooking. Simply French is where Patricia Wells (one of my idols) presents food from Joel Robuchon (another idol). To modify the recipe, I have added cayenne pepper, Parmesan cheese and a bit more salt, but the basic recipe and technique comes from the masters.
Lightly butter and flour 2 baking sheets; set aside. In a medium-size heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, salt, and water over high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. As soon as the mixture boils, remove the pan from the heat. Add the flour all at once, and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan. Return the pan to low heat and continue beating for 1 minute, to dry out the dough.
Quickly transfer the dough to the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a flat paddle. Gradually add the eggs and ½ cup of the Gruyere cheese and all of the Parmesan, mixing at moderately high speed to incorporate the maximum amount of air. The dough should have the consistency of very thick mayonnaise.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a plain ½-inch tip. (Depending on the size of your pastry bag, this may have to be done in two batches). Pipe into round 2-inch mounds, spacing them about 2 inches apart. (If you do not have a pastry bag, carefully spoon the dough onto the baking sheets with a tablespoon).
Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Place in the center of the oven and bake until the puffs are an even golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Avoid opening the oven door during this time, for humidity will escape and the pastry will dry out.
To test for doneness, remove one well-browned cheese puff from the oven. Split it apart: It should be moist and steamy in the center. Transfer the puffs to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.