These little pillows of cheesy French heaven are a perfect snack or appetizer. It is a baked savory pastry made of choux dough. Choux dough or pate a choux is a dough made of only water, butter, milk and flour. Choux pastry is used to make such marvelous things as profiteroles, eclairs and beignets. And gougeres are just choux pastry mixed in with cheese. Sometimes they are also stuffed with meats, or even mushrooms.
I’ve been quite hesitant to make choux dough since it requires you to be quick and act fast and I kinda like to take my time in the kitchen. But I was quite inspired by a recipe for a three cheese gougere that I read in Saveur, and subsequently went about reading several more recipes for gougeres from David Lebovitz and The Kitchn. All of those links above will tell you how easily these are made, and explain in step by step detail.
The one thing you must do is have all the ingredients on hand. Its difficult when the dough is cooking to then grate the cheese. So make sure your mis-en-place is ready.
8 tbsp Butter, cubed
1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Milk
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Water
5 large Eggs
1 cup grated Cheese (I used Parmesan. I recommend any sharp cheese such as Gruyere, Comte or Pecorino)
Preheat the oven to 220 deg C.
On medium high heat, melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the salt, water and milk. When the butter has melted, add the flour. Whisk quickly with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and starts sort of looking like mashed potatoes. Reduce heat to medium and add half the cheese and continue cooking the dough, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, to dry out the dough a little bit.
Transfer the dough to a bowl and using a hand mixer, mix the dough for 3-4 minutes until it has stopped steaming and slightly warm (be sure it isn’t too hot or the eggs will cook when added).
Add one egg at a time, completely incorporating the egg with the hand mixer before adding the next one. Continue until all eggs are blended in.
Scoop all the dough into a piping bag with a plain tip or a Ziploc bag with the edge cut off (which is what I did). Pipe the dough onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Each gougere should be the size of a small cherry tomatoes. Smooth the top down if needed, so it doesn’t burn in the oven. Top each one with an additional sprinkling of cheese.
Once the dough is all piped out, put the trays into the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 190 deg C and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve warm, or at room temperature. It doesn’t really matter. They’ll fly off the plate in a matter of minutes. 🙂