I think I’ve said this before. But, it bares repeating. If you aren’t following David Lebovitz on Instagram (@davidlebovitz) you are missing out on some of the most gorgeous Parisian instagramming out there. I enjoy following his daily life as much as I enjoy his recipes and cooking.
The first time I made choux pastry, this blog wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye. TD and I were newly married and had finally settled into our house in Westchester (we closed escrow and walked down the aisle within six weeks of one another). I’d made a turkey and wild rice soup and was following a recipe for what I thought was a wreath of dinner rolls (oh the enthusiasm of newly minted matrimony).
The technique seemed unusual: melt butter and water together and stir in flour almost like a roux.
Then add seasonings and cheese. Lots of cheese.
I had no idea I was about to fall in love with pate a choux by way of gougeres. This is actually the first of three weeks of recipes involving pate a choux, the ever versatile puff of crunchy, airy pastry. It started this summer with a recipe for Paris Brest (the third I’ll post) and then I realized I didn’t have a gougeres recipe on here. So, we’re going to go backwards to go forwards.
Options with these cheese puffs are expansive (and very satisfying to think about). Here, I’ve used grueyre and cayenne. But, I’ve made them with blue cheese and black pepper and even cheddar and chili powder (to surprisingly good…if not very French results). My friend Ann Mah’s favorite version uses Comte.
makes about 20
adapted just a bit from David Lebovitz
- 1/2 C (125ml) water
- 3 TBS (40g) butter, cut into cubes (he says salted or unsalted, your choice)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- big pinch of chili powder, a few turns of black ground pepper or my favorite, a nice shake of cayenne
- 1/2 C (70g) flour
- 2 large eggs at room temp
- 2 tsp minced chives or other fresh herbs
- 3/4 C (about 3 ounces, 90g) grated cheese
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Have a pastry bag at the ready. Use a 1/2 inch tip if you like, I don’t bother (any piping will be lost) and just snip the end at just under 1/2 inch.
- Grate your cheese, set aside. Set up your stand mixer. Also, a ziplock bag works just fine if you don’t have a pastry bag.
- Heat water, butter, salt and pepper (or other dry seasonings) in a saucepan until butter is melted.
- Dump in the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides into a smooth ball. Remove from heat and let rest two minutes to cool down.
- Scrape dough into the standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can do this next bit by hand, but you don’t really want to).
- With the mixer on medium, add the eggs, one at a time. The batter will look lumpy at first but will smooth out.
- Add 3/4 of the cheese and your fresh herbs. Stir until well mixed.
- Scrape the dough into your prepared pastry bag. Pup the dough onto your prepared sheet into mounds about the size of unshelled walnuts.
- Top each puff with a sprinkling of the remaining cheese.
- Into the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Then, turn down over to 375 degrees and back for an additional 20-25 minutes, until they’re completely golden brown. Don’t be afraid to let them get a little dark (darker than the ones pictured above). Toasty cheese is superlative.
- These are best served warm. If made in advance, crisp up before serving in a 350 degree oven.