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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gougères (Cheese Puffs)

It is the secret dream of my life to become a pastry chef. Pastry is usually considered more exact and less forgiving than savoury cooking and it appeals to my love of being careful and following rules.  Particularly, I would love to make croissants.  There's a course at the Cordon Bleu school in Ottawa on Viennoiseries (croissants, brioche) that I would love to attend.  

These little cheese puffs are made from pâte à choux.  The dough steams to create a light, fluffy puff that can be used to make cream puffs, profiteroles and éclairs.  Or you can add cheese like I did for a delicious, savoury treat.  
Here's what you need:

1 cup water
1 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup (6 ounces) grated gruyère cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the butter into pieces and mix it with the water, mustard powder and salt in a medium pot.  

Bring it to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat and add the flour.  Stir it together to incorporate the flour.

Return the pot to medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 to 5 minutes until the dough comes together and looks thick and glossy. This dries out the dough.  It does take a little elbow grease though.

Now, the next step can be done by hand but I found it much easier to use my mixer.  Beat the dough in the mixture for about a minute, then add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg before adding the next one.  You'll end up with a smooth batter like this.

Now add the cheese and mix it in.  Gruyère is really great in these, but you can use almost any cheese.  

I used my handy tablespoon cookie scoop to measure out the puffs.  You can use a regular tablespoon or pipe them from a piping bag or ziplock bag.  Place them at least an inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake the puffs in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 and bake another 20 to 25 minutes.  When they're done, the puffs will be dry, light and hollow.  

Cool the pan on a cooling rack.  You can serve these warm but I prefer them at room temperature.  They're best if served the day they're made but they can be frozen and reheated.  

These make a very impressive and delicious appetizer.  They are also a nice treat in place of dinner rolls.  I am going to experiment with this dough and try some different cheeses and herbs, and maybe even profiteroles some day!  

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