Serve these small cheese puffs, or Gougères, as appetizers.
Each time I prepare gougères, the whole dish disappears in a few seconds, the children suddenly become very interested in what the adults are eating and grab them one after the other, even if they are not supposed to.
The main ingredient is choux puff pastry
Made with the same, quick, and easy to prepare, choux puff, you can prepare both a savory version – gougère cheese puffs – and a sweet version: chouquettes adding sugar rocks or profiteroles filling choux with vanilla ice cream and drizzling warm melting chocolate on top. As they both always enjoy great success, I double the proportions of choux puff and make half-half. The quantity made may seem huge at first, but I’ve never had any leftovers!
Choux puff pastry case originally called pâte à chaud / lit. hot dough because of the preparation process of heating the dough to dry it out. This s actually the main secret to making perfect chouquettes or gougères: after heating milk, water, and butter, then pouring flour, the dough needs to be cooked for a few minutes stirring constantly so that it dries. You need to get a more compact dough that doesn’t stick to the pan. This will help your choux to puff in the oven ;-)
The story behind gougères in France
Gougères are traditionally served as an appetizer, often warm or at least at room temperature. They are offered in some wine tastings in Burgundy as it is known to be a good way to cleanse the palate. Just imagine yourself in the heart of France, in a cool wine cellar, among thousands of wine bottles and oak wine barrels, tasting different wines with the vigneron…
Most likely coming from Burgundy, the first gougères were seen in the 14th century and are traditionally made with gruyere cheese. As I grew up in the Alps, I tend to prefer Beaufort cheese but any hard cheese works. It then depends on your taste, or even on which cheese you have at home. I would however suggest you choose a cheese with some taste and not too much salt, such as Comté cheese.
Gougere Cheese Puffs
To make 700 gr (±25 oz) choux patry
- 125 ml milk (±½ cup)
- 125 ml water (±½ cup)
- 100 gr butter, diced (±½ cup)
- 1 pinch salt about 4 grams
- 150 gr all-purpose flour (±5 oz)
- 4 eggs medium of 50 gr each (or 3 large)
- 100 gr grated cheese ideally comté or beaufort, otherwise emmental ou gruyère
- freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
- 1 egg to glaze
Prepare choux pastry
- Prepare the choux pastry. You can follow the step by step explanations with pictures here.
- Prepare all ingredients in advance as everything goes very fast.
- Over a medium heat bring the water, milk and butter to a boil. Slowly so that the butter has plenty of time to melt.
- At the first broth, remove from the heat and add all the flour at once. Stir vigorously until you get a homogeneous mixture.
- Place again on your stove and keep on stirring for 1-2 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Pour into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat an egg and stir it into the mixture. Repeat with the 3 other eggs.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Grate cheese and save a small quantity for later. Add the grated cheese to the choux pastry and mix.
- To make the gougères, place small dollops on a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper using either a piping bag or a spoon. Make sure you leave enough room between the chouquettes as they will expand during the baking process.
- Glaze with the remaining egg, beaten.
- Drop the remaining cheese on top.
- Bake 10 minutes at 180°C (350°F), 15 mnutes if the gougères are quite big. At a 5 minute mark, open the oven door for 5 seconds. This will remove the steam from the oven and prevent the gougères from falling flat later on.
Bon appétit !