Mes chers amis! (All the French I know comes from what I picked up from Julia Child’s autobiography.)
Today we’re going to be a wee bit fancy. I mean it–there aren’t even any yoga pants in sight around here. Just the little luxuries that are sandalwood candles, fresh laundry, an awesome soundtrack and cheesy snacks.
That last thing… It might be my very favorite thing.
Gougeres are just one of many uses of the eggy wonder that is choux pastry. It’s the same dough we use for profiteroles/cream puffs, except that instead of baking, then filling them, we add cheese and herbs right in, pipe them smaller, and let them get all puffy and wonderful. In fact, if you’ve ever wanted to give cream puffs a try, this would be a good practice run. An opportunity to test the waters. (And the butters, and the flours–hey-o!)
The end result? Bite-size puffs with a chewy, airy, eggy middle, dotted with salty, pungent (in the good way) gorgonzola cheese that oozes out onto the surface to leave those heavenly, brown, crunchy melted-and-cooled-cheese spots. The chives are there for a touch of oniony greenery. I think it’s nice.
What’s also nice is, it’s very likely that you have the basics on hand.
The dough goes like this: heat up water, butter, salt and pepper in a saucepan until butter melts. Dump in the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. You’ll have this.
It’ll be hot and pull away from the pan, into a cohesive ball. Then, we let it cool a bit, because the eggs come next. We don’t want the hot dough to cook the egg, which is also why we stir in the eggs quickly. The whole thing will look chunky and slimy, but keep stirring! It’ll come together. This is when you add your herbs and cheese.
Pipe out little cherry tomato-sized mounds. Smooth the tops, bake.
Remove from the oven and stare at all that crackly, bubbly, golden cheese. Are you flipping out yet?
Feel free to play with this recipe to your heart’s content. If you’re not into blue cheeses, feta would work. Sharp cheddar and thyme! Asiago and rosemary! Gruyere/comte and dill? That sounds especially good.
In fact, I was slightly gambling with gorgonzola; in his original recipe, David Lebovitz (pastry/French food O.G.) suggests hard, sharp cheeses in gougeres. I was half-expecting these to deflate or otherwise fail at the fine art of cheese-puffery, but they didn’t disappoint. (For what it’s worth, I used gorgonzola that had been aged 90 days, which is pretty standard.)
Any route you go, these are great with a good beer. Alternatively, you can dial up the fancy factor to 11 and go with a dry bubbly. You know how you roll… I’m just here to make suggestions.
Gorgonzola and Chive Gougeres (French cheese puffs)
(adapted from David Lebovitz)
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon salt
Some freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh minced chives
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the water, butter, salt and pepper until butter is melted. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball, and the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat, and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly to fully incorporate after each addition. Keep stirring until the dough is smooth. Add the cheese and chives, and mix until just incorporated.
Transfer the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain wide tip and pipe into cherry tomato-sized mounds, spacing evenly apart. (I ended up with 36). Use your dampened fingers to gently smooth out any pointy tops.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 375 degrees and continue baking for 20-25 minutes more, until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.