Everyone’s favorite 5th grade misanthrope, Eric Cartman, is known for his foul mouth, his Machiavellian streak, and of course his devotion to Cheesy Poofs. Now, delightful as those fictional snacks are, I’m sure Cartman would be willing to restart the Civil War (again) for just one gougère. The original cheesy poofs, gougères are simply one of the most delicious cocktail nibbles ever.
Originally from Burgundy, gougères are a simple pâte à choux mixed with cheese, formed into little rounds, and baked in a hot oven. They’re at once crisp, tender, light, and cheesy. The only fussy thing about gougères is that they must be served hot from the oven.
This challenge is easily surmountable, however, in light of their otherwise forgiving nature. The pâte à choux is the most flexible of all traditional pastry bases and comes together in almost no time at all. A strong arm is required, though, to mix in the eggs. And, once baked, gougères can be flash frozen or reheated without compromising their taste or texture, which makes them a perfect accompaniment for even weeknight cocktail guests.
The below is lightly adapted from a web-wide recipe from chef Alain Ducasse.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
4 oz unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
4 oz shredded Gruyère cheese
1/2 oz finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp finely ground white pepper
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir till dough comes together. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring vigorously until the dough pulls away from the pan, 3-4 minutes.
Scrape the dough into a bowl and let cool 1 minute. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to thoroughly combine after each addition. Reserving 1/2 oz Gruyère for sprinkling, stir in remaining Gruyère, Parmesan, pepper, and nutmeg.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds on parchment-lined sheets, leaving approximately 2 inches between each. Sprinkle with reserved Gruyère and bake till puffed and golden brown, approximately 24 minutes. Serve immediately or cool completely before flash freezing and storing well-wrapped in the freezer. Reheat gougères in a 350° oven until recrisped and warmed through. Makes approximately 32.