I had never heard of gougères before seeing a post about them on smitten kitchen's website. I still don't actually know how to pronounce them. So let's just call them cheese puffs and be done with all this pretentious nonsense, shall we?
Whatever you choose to call them, know that they are fantastically delicious in every way. Probably one of the biggest stars at this year's Thanksgiving dinner, and that's saying a lot considering their small size and lack of importance to the meal. But really, I should have seen it coming, a traditional French choux pastry (the kind of thing you use to make profiteroles, cream puffs, and eclairs) spiked with a TON of cheese could be nothing less than addictive.
As if the cheesiness wasn't enough to make you start looking for excuses to produce these little gems, they are also impossibly easy to make! In fact, why more people don't make cream puffs and the like is beyond me. I don't even know if it is possible to ruin them, because so far they have turned out fantastic each time. So, without further ado, to the great relief of my friends and family, here is the cheese gougères recipe:
Cheese Puffs or Gougères
Adapted from smittenkitchen.com
1 cup Milk (I used whole)
4 Tablespoons unsalted Butter
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
dash Cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg*
1 cup all purpose Flour
3 large Eggs
1 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (+ a bit more for topping, let's say 2 Tablespoons)
2 cups grated Swiss cheese (I used cave aged Gruyere mmmm)**
Course salt for topping (kosher or sea salt)
*I think we have all seen my affinity for nutmeg in, well, basically everything. Feel free to leave it out (or use more!). Same goes for the Cayenne and Paprika, although I'm pretty sure the paprika helps make them very nicely orange.
**For any recipe involving cheese I will undoubtedly add even more. The original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of Swiss, but I see no reason not to make these as cheesy as possible. Your call.
In a medium saucepan combine the milk, butter, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg and bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat and mix in all of the flour until mixture forms a ball.It will start looking like this
and quickly look like this
Return to the heat and continue stirring for about 1 minute to remove some of the moisture.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of your stand mixer (or large bowl if using a hand mixer, or food processor if you like). Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then mix the dough by itself on a high speed for about 5 seconds.
Add the eggs and paprika and mix on low to medium for about 10 seconds, then switch to a high speed and mix for another 10 seconds or so until a smooth, sticky dough forms. Allow dough to cool for about 10 minutes. [If using a food processor, simply process for 10-15 seconds]At first it will look curdled like this
but after mixing on high it should look like this
Preheat oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil, or a reusable nonstick mat (mine is teflon I think).
Add the parmesan and gruyere cheeses to the dough and mix just until combined, either by hand or on a low speed in your mixer (do not use the food processor for this step).
Scoop the dough onto the lined baking sheet using either a tablespoon or a cookie scoop. Keep a small cup of water next to you as you work and dip your fingers in it before trying to remove the dough from the spoon. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers. [The cookie scoop worked great, but Guy preferred the rough look of of the puffs when using a spoon.]
Top the puffs with a small sprinkling of remaining parmesan cheese and coarse salt. Then bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm from the oven or at room temperature (we liked them warm of course).