I added pâte à choux to my 30×30 list because I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it—gougéres or profiteroles (filled with ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce, of course). I ended on gougéres since I already had too many desserts on my list (and still have a few more to make, without much time left). Of course, I don’t exactly need my arm twisted to make French cheese puffs, either.
Gougéres are puffy, pillowy cheese bites that taste wonderful but are so easy to make. The dough looks a little scary a couple times in the process, where you think something has gone horribly wrong, but rest assured, it’s all part of the process of making pâte à choux. When you first add the flour to the melted butter mixture it will almost instantly form a big clump of dough, which is very different than how you’d normally add flour to a batter or a dough. This is exactly what you want to happen, though. Later, when you add the eggs, it will look like you royally screwed something up again, because it will get all lumpy, but it’s fine! After a minute or two of stirring, you are back to something that looks totally normal, and can be piped or spooned onto a baking sheet.
I used gruyere for these because I love it, and I think every time I’ve had gougéres, they have been made with gruyere. No reason to mess with a good thing, right? These are really delicious and way too addictive. Since they’re so easy to make and can be made a bit ahead of time (I haven’t tried that, but I’m taking David’s word for it), they’re a perfect appetizer. Or, you know, the perfect dinner when you’re home alone and want to eat like 30 cheese puffs without any judgment.
Makes about 28-30 bite sized puffs
Adapted from David Lebovitz
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp. butter, salted or unsalted, cut into cubes
1/4 tsp. salt
a few turns of freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup AP flour
2 large eggs
1-2 tsp. freshly minced thyme
3/4 cup (about 3 oz.) grated gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Heat the water, butter, salt and pepper in a saucepan just until the butter is melted.
Dump in all the flour at once, stirring vigorously, until the mixture pulls away from the sides and forms a smooth ball. Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest for 2 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly so the eggs don’t cook. At first, the batter will seem lumpy, but it will smooth out after a minute or so.
Add all but about 2 Tbsp. of the cheese and the thyme into the dough, stirring until well mixed.
Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip or a freezer bag with the corner cut off. Pipe the dough into mounds onto the baking sheet, about the size of a cherry tomato. Top each mound with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes and then lower the heat to 375°F. Continue baking for about 20 more minutes, until the puffs are completely golden brown.
For extra-crispy puffs, five minutes before they’re done, poke the side of each puff with a sharp knife to release the steam, and return to the oven to finish baking.