I was introduced to Gougères at the beginning of my career in a well-known Michelin starred restaurant. It is a good story for a later day. Come by for a glass of wine, some Gougères and I will tell you the story.
As it turns out, they are everywhere. It is a variation of a Pâte à Choux recipe. Pâte à Choux is used to make many sweet treats such as profiteroles – the sweet, cream filled dessert treats used to create the French wedding cake known as Croques en bouche or Croquembouche – the tower of profiteroles swirled with caramelized sugar.
The only savory version I know of is the Gougères – hundreds of variations all called Gougères, but so very different. The basic difference from a sweet choux recipe and a savory one is the elimination of sugar and the addition of salt, pepper and other flavorings, most notably cheese. Our recipe calls for Gruyère cheese, a non-holy Swiss cheese, but there are many other recipes with cheeses such as cheddar or Comte, the French version of Gruyère.
The variations don’t end with cheese options… for Gougères with a kick, add some cayenne pepper. You can even add a bit of pureed spinach or red bell pepper to the batter changing the color for a festive event. Just as in profiteroles, adding something to the inside makes them better – a bit of Mornay sauce, piped in from the bottom makes them extra classy and extra cheesy!
Whatever variation you choose, you will be very happy. These little puffs of gruyère cheese goodness make the world a better place and if Marie sees you with them, please share.
Gougères AKA “gruyère cheese puffs”
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup butter
- salt to taste
- pepper ~30 grinds
- 1 cup all-purpose flour sifted
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup gruyère cheese grated
- Using medium saucepan, bring water, butter, salt and pepper to a boil. Add flour all at once and mix constantly till mass comes away from sides of pot.
- Transfer dough to a standing mixer with paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute, then add one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition. You want to achieve a stiff but pliable texture.
- Add cheese to mixture and continue to mix for one minute.
- Transfer to a pastry bag with a plain tip and pipe into desired shape on parchment lined sheet pan. About the size of quarter for smaller gougères and the size of half dollar for larger ones.
- Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown then turn down to 350 for 10-13 minutes to cook through.
- Serve warm, bask in the glory of your accomplishment when your friends admire your kitchen prowess.
- These freeze well. Freeze on baking sheet, once frozen place into Ziploc bag - pull a few out for an impromptu gathering.
- Recipe makes about 100 cheese puffs when piped out to about a quarter size.