As we count down to Hanukah, Christmas and New Year’s, I wish everyone good health, happiness and prosperity in 2021!
Like many families, my kids won’t be home for the holidays this year (super-sad face), but we’re making the best of it. We put up our Christmas tree, hung stockings on the mantel for everyone--us, my Mom, my kids, their “significant others” and dogs--and put up strings of red/green/clear lights on the house with tiny white lights in the trees. I really do enjoy the sparkle and glow of the season: twinkle lights (on snow, if you’re lucky), candles, firelight, sequins, glitter and of course, champagne with its magical tiny bubbles!! And even though I’ll be missing my kids, I definitely won’t be missing out on the champagne--especially when it’s accompanied by freshly baked gougères!
Gougères are the perfect holiday hors d’oeuvres: warm, puffy, cheesy and easy. They’re a bit glamorous when served with champagne, and oh, so delicious. No one can resist these little guys! It’s almost comical to see how fast they disappear. In France restaurants often serve them with cocktails. I always have a stash of them, unbaked, in the freezer.
But I’m going to be honest here—I’m a tad reluctant to put this recipe on my blog. It’s a bit like pulling the curtain aside on the Wizard of Oz: hopefully the magic won’t disappear once you see how easy it is to make them! (On the other hand, isn’t the magic of a Rock Star recipe that it’s really special, but also super-easy?).
This recipe for gougères is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Dori Greenspan’s Around My French Table. Essentially, you make a pâte à choux (the same dough used for cream puffs), add cheese and bake. That’s it! And in case you haven’t made pâte à choux before, no worries—it’s very easy.
½ cup water
½ cup whole milk
8 TBSP unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into several pieces
½ TSP salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) coarsely grated cheese (Cheddar, Gruyère, or a combination of the two)
Note: This recipe comes together fast, so pre-measure all your ingredients, and be sure to let your eggs warm to room temp.
First, preheat the oven to 425F, then line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Over a high flame in a medium saucepan, heat the water, milk, butter and salt until rapidly boiling.
Dump in all the flour, decrease the flame to medium-low, then immediately use a wooden spoon to vigorously stir the flour into the liquid. In a couple minutes the dough will come together; keep stirring energetically for 1-2 more minutes, cooking until it is very smooth.
The next step is to combine the eggs with the dough. I like to use a stand mixer for this, but a food processor, electric mixer or even beating by hand works. Allow the dough to cool for a minute in the bowl of the mixer. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating on high until each egg is fully incorporated. The dough may separate at first, but no worries, by the time the last egg is beaten in, it will come together as a thick, shiny paste. (Voilá, now you have pâte à choux). Finally, beat in the cheese.
Now, using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, drop mounds of dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about two inches between each mound. At this point you can either bake the gougères or freeze them unbaked.
To Bake: Place the baking sheets in the oven and turn the temperature down to 375F. After 12 minutes, to ensure the gougères cook evenly, rotate the position of the baking sheets. Bake for another 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven when the gougères are lightly browned and puffy. These taste amazing right out of the oven, but they’re still delicious at room temperature.
To Freeze Unbaked: Place the baking sheets in the freezer. When the mounds of dough are frozen solid, store them into a ziplock bag in the freezer. To bake, place the frozen mounds on a lined baking sheet, and cook as instructed above. Just increase baking time a couple minutes longer, keeping a close eye on them.
-A beautiful champagne bucket makes a stunning presentation. This gorgeous stainless steel one is a Robert Welch design, part of the "Drift"collection.
-Set your champagne bucket on a tray to keep the condensation from marring your tabletop. Alternatively, use it to serve warm gougères! This coordinating tray, also designed by Robert Welch from the "Drift"collection, has a silicone mat to protect the surface.
-Around My French Table by Dori Greenspan