Fans of gougères know that there is simply nothing like them. Meltingly fluffy and warm, studded with cheese (or not), and golden and puffy, they’re like the Platonic ideal of a popover, but in one bite, and with cheese. They’re as tasty passed alongside bubbly for New Year’s Eve as they are set out to start a meal off with a bang.
Traditional French appetizers particularly popular in Burgundy, gougères are made from choux pastry, which is nothing more than water, butter, flour and eggs cooked together to make a stiff dough. The addition of cheese—traditionally Gruyère, but there’s no need to be a stickler about it—is what differentiates gougères from other types of choux pastry, which is also used to make éclairs and profiteroles.
Among the many reasons to love them? First, you can make the dough in advance and freeze it. Secondly, they’re so inexpensive to make! (Think about it: butter, flour and cheese.) And lastly, they are perfectly bite-sized. That means you can pass a tray of the hot appetizer without adding fussy little plates or forks. Better for your cleanup, and better for the environment! Here are a few of our favorite gougères, plus a step-by-step of making choux pastry.
Beaufort, Chive and Black Pepper Gougères
Less nutty and with a creamier paste (what cheese aficionados call the inside of a wheel) than its buddies Comté and Gruyère, Beaufort cheese has herbal, floral notes that are just lovely in this version of gougères. A couple of tablespoons of fresh herbs drive the herbaceous aroma home nicely as these bake.
Whether you take yours with Parmesan and Gruyère or prefer the slightly less nutty white cheddar rendition, there are absolutely gougères out there designed with you in mind. Remember: Easy, easy, easy. Here’s the step-by-step you’d need for any choux pastry, with images to check your work against if you tackle any of our beloved cheese puffs.
Choux (pronounced “shoo”) pastry is the basis for a number of classic French patisseries, from savory gougères to creamy chocolate éclairs. The batter is cooked on the stove top and fashioned into a variety of shapes using a pastry bag, then baked and transformed into delicate shells.
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 cup water
- 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
|Position 2 racks evenly in the oven, and preheat to 425˚F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper or aluminum foil. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the milk, water, butter and salt and bring to a full boil.|
|When the butter melts, remove the pan from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until blended.|
|Return the pan to medium heat and continue stirring until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove from the heat and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes, or until about 140˚F when tested with an instant-read thermometer.|
|Crack the eggs into a small bowl and check for shells. Add about 1 egg and beat with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Stir in the remaining 3 eggs, about one at a time, beating vigorously after each addition so that the batter returns to a smooth paste. Let the paste cool for about 10 minutes.|
|To shape puffs: Fit a pastry bag with a 5/8-inch plain tip and fill the bag with the paste. For each puff, pipe about 1 tablespoon of the paste onto the prepared pan, forming a mound about 2 inches in diameter. Space the mounds at least 2 inches apart to allow for expansion.|
|Bake the puffs for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375˚F and continue baking until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and immediately prick the side of each puff with the tip of a paring knife. Return the pastries to the turned-off oven, leave the door open and let them dry out in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Let the pastries cool completely on the pans on wire racks before filling.|