Cheese Puffs (Gougeres)

I love cheese and have come home having spent $20 or more on an small assortment of the fattening goodies. When the cheese monger at the farmer’s market closed up shop a year or so ago, I was very sad. The meat/deli vendor next door bought their stock and started carrying the top selling 20-25 varieties but the pricey specialty varieties disappeared … like that black truffle filled Brie that I only had once.

Recently, I came home with a 4 oz chunk of creamy blue cheese, similar to a Cambozola, a combination of Camembert and Gorgonzola cheeses.

I have been having a cream puff craving lately so I made a batch.

But I also made a batch of gougeres, which are a savoury version of cream puffs in which cheese is mixed into the choux pastry.

And because one batch of 12 puffs only used 2 oz of the blue cheese (I crumbled in some Parmesan shavings from my fridge as well), I thought about making something else with the rest. However, I ended up doing another batch of gougeres with vegetable oil in place of the unsalted butter. I also played with the way I formed the gougers and the baking temperature: one batch was spooned out and baked at 425 deg F for 15 min, and then the temperature was reduced to 375 deg F for 15 minutes, while the other batch was piped and baked for 42 1/2 minutes at 350 deg F.

Cheese Puffs (Gougeres) – makes about 12 2″ puffs or 24 mini puffs

1/2 cup water, milk or half milk/half water
1/4 cup unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1/8-1/4 tsp salt1/2 cup all purpose flour, presifted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (~ 2 oz) grated sharp cheese (cheddar, gruyere, or crumbled blue cheese)
1 tsp freshly picked thyme leaves  or 1/8 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp freshly coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or use a Silpat sheet.

Bring the water, salt and butter to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Pour in the flour all at once and beat in using a wooden spoon until it’s well incorporated and has formed a ball. Cook for a couple of minutes longer to make sure that the raw taste has been cooked out of the flour.

Scrape out the dough mixture into a glass or metal bowl so that it cools faster, add the thyme and pepper and mix well.

In a small bowl, break and egg and beat it well with a fork.

After 5 min, turn the beaten egg into the flour mixture and beat well with your wooden spoon until the egg has been incorporated into the mixture. Break a second egg into the bowl and then add it to the flour mixture. Beat well until the mixture is smooth.

Fold in the cheese. (Reserve some cheese for the top if desired.)

Scoop a rounded teaspoon of the choux pastry mixture using a wet teaspoon and scraping out onto your prepared baking sheet with a second wet teaspoon.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 35-40 min. Depending on the cheese used, you may want to extend the baking time to make sure the middle dries out.

Rewarm leftover gougeres for 5-10 minutes in a 350ºF oven.

Alternate gougere variations – cheddar and bacon; smoked bacon (2 cooked strips diced) and some gr black pepper/pinch nutmeg, sage (1 tsp minced fine) and 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola

Turn a simple ham and bean soup into an elegant meal by serving a couple of these cheese puffs on your good china to family, friends and company.

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