I’ve never met a version of choux pastry I didn’t love. Eclairs, chouquettes, profiteroles…just thinking about those desserts is enough to make my mouth water. In fact, I think the only way I wouldn’t eat a piece of choux pastry is if some evil mind had stuffed it with piles of fennel (my ultimate food fiend). And even then, I might consider it. That’s how much I love it.
My favorite version of choux pastry is probably gougères – or cheese puffs as they’re often called outside of France. I used to think they were really tricky to make (anything that involves piping always makes me nervous) but after trying my hand at them a couple of years ago I realized they’re actually super easy. I don’t even think that piping the dough is 100% necessary to be honest. Using a spoon seems to work just as well and still results in feather light, moreish cheese puffs.
The other great thing about gougères is that you can make them in advance for parties etc. You can either make them the night before and put them in the oven for a few minutes just before serving them or you can make them well ahead and keep them in the freezer. Everyone seems to love them as much as I do so they’re really the perfect snack to keep in the freezer for last minute guests!
For extra special occasions, I like to stuff them with smoked salmon and cream cheese but you could do it using other ingredients such as sun dried tomatoes, feta. You can also vary the cheeses you use in the dough or add in diced ham, bacon, chives etc. In short: the world is your gougère.
80g (1/3 cup) butter, cubed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup water
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese (or Parmesan, or any semi-hard cheese you like)
2 tbs poppy seeds or extra Gruyere cheese for sprinkling (optional)
1. Preheat your oven to 180 C.
2. In a medium saucepan placed over medium high heat combine the water, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil.
3. When the butter is melted, add in the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to combine. The mixture will quickly start to resemble a soft dough. Continue to stir until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the pan and to form a ball (about 2 minutes). Take the pan off the heat and leave to slightly cool for 1 minute.
4. Mix in the eggs one at a time, making sure that each egg is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next.
5. Add the cheese and nutmeg and quickly stir to combine.
6. Spoon (or pipe) little balls of dough at least 5 cm apart onto a baking tray lined with cooking paper. Sprinkle with cheese or poppy seeds if you wish.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and golden.