I think I have a new favorite thing to bake. Gougères are a savory pastry made with pâte à choux (the stuff used to make cream puffs and eclairs) and Gruyère cheese. John and I take the “serve fresh out of the oven” instructions very seriously; we can wordlessly polish off a hot tray of these in record time.
This recipe is from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one of several fine cookbooks and food magazine subscriptions I received over the gift-heavy months of December and January.
1 cup water 6 tablespoons of butter (3/4 stick) cut into pieces 1 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon black pepper pinch of nutmeg 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 4 large eggs 1 1/4 cups finely shredded Gruyère cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Bring water, butter, and seasonings to a boil in a 1 1/2 or 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Boil slowly until the butter has melted. Meanwhile, measure out the flour.
Remove water and butter mixture from heat and immediately pour in all the flour at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spatula or spoon for several seconds to blend thoroughly. Beat over moderately high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and the spoon, forms a mass, and begins to film the bottom of the pan.
Remove saucepan from heat and make a well in the center of the paste with your spoon. Immediately break an egg into the center of the well. Beat it into the paste for several seconds until it has absorbed. Repeat with the rest of the eggs, mixing in one at a time until the paste is well blended and smooth. Mix in 3/4 cup of the cheese.
Scoop small spoonfuls of the paste (about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter) about 2 inches apart from each other on baking sheets (you’ll probably need 2). Top gougères with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until puffs are golden brown and have doubled in size.
Remove from the oven, and pierce each gougère with a small knife. I think this is supposed to let steam escape so that the puffs don’t get all soggy. Set in the turned-off oven and leave the door ajar for 10 minutes. I don’t know what this last part does or how necessary it is, but I had the patience to do what Julia Child instructs, and the result was good. Then stuff your face with these delicious little things.
if you want to do it up one step, after piercing and setting, fill each gougere with uber-decadent sauce meuniere or bechamel, or even just any simple white cheese sauce.