I first heard about gougères in April of 2009, when I read Molly Wizenberg's article on gougères in that month's issue of Bon Appetit. A gougère is like a cream puff, but it has no cream. Also, cheese is incorporated into the dough. I love cheese, and to incorporate it into a light, savory pastry dough sounded marvelous. I finally got around to making them a week ago, and they are nothing short of my expectations.
My gougères are ugly. If you do a Google image search of gougères or if you look up the article on bonappetit.com, you'll likely see puffy, light, miniature edible clouds. Mine fell somewhat short in the appearance department, but were absolutely addictive, taste-wise. I made these for a trip to the mountains with some girl friends, and I think we had eaten all but about three before the day was done. After reading another article by Dorie Greenspan from this month's Bon Appetit, I was excited to make them and felt somewhat confident that they'd turn out perfectly.
A little background: gougères are made from choux paste (pronounced like shoe, if I understand correctly), which is French for cabbage. The name is derived from the shape that the dough resembles when baked. Choux paste can be used to make cream puffs, gougères, eclairs, and other assorted pastries. Rather than a chemical rising agent like yeast, baking soda, or baking powder, choux paste relies on steam for its oven lift. Martha Stewart, in her Cooking School book, claims that the choux paste is fairly easy to make, and once you master it, you'll feel very accomplished. Gougères are traditionally made with gruyère cheese.
I had initially intended to use gruyère cheese, but its cost, even at Wal-Mart, was higher than I wanted for a first time experiment. Dorie's article, which is an excerpt from her new cookbook, gave me the idea of playing around with the cheese. I chose one of my favorites, smoked gouda. So, use whatever semi firm cheese you want. I am posting the recipe as it was written in the magazine, but will post my changes in the notes section.
from Molly Wizenberg, via Bon Appetit
1 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
4 large eggs, chilled
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Bring 1 cup water, butter, and salt to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking until butter melts. Add flour; stir rapidly with wooden spoon until flour absorbs liquid and forms ball, pulling away from sides of pan. Stir vigorously until film forms on bottom of pan and dough is no longer sticky, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat; cool dough 2 to 3 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in cheese and pepper.
Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart. Using damp fingertip, press down any peaks of dough.
Bake gougères until golden brown, about 30 minutes, reversing position of pans halfway through baking. Using small sharp knife, pry open 1 gougère to check for doneness (center should be slightly eggy and moist). Serve hot or warm. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 hours ahead. Transfer to racks; cool. Rewarm in 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
- As I said earlier, I used smoked gouda cheese.
- Due to the saltiness of the cheese, I would next time decrease the salt to 1/2 tsp or less or cut it out altogether.
- I think I didn't get a good, pretty shape because I didn't beat the dough long enough between egg incorporation. Next time I will use the whisk attachment on my mixer and beat longer than I did to achieve a stiffer dough. Mine was slack.
- These are probably best served warm, as the recipe suggests, but we ate them cold and they were still delicious, so don't be afraid of eating them cold.