Gruyère Gougère (Cheese Puffs)
I distinctly remember the first gougère I tasted. It was at one of Kathy Casey’s cocktail classes, that she offers now and then. As the students arrived and seated themselves, small silver-colored buckets lined with parchment and filled with gougère centered each table. The class was a lot of fun with each round of cocktails (most were shared so that we didn’t become intoxicated) accompanied by some creative bite. While all of them were tasty and whimsical, as Kathy’s creations often are, the gougères were the one thing that really fired my imagination.
Soon after, I started making the recipe from that night (also found in Kathy’s cookbook, Dishing with Kathy Casey: Food, Fun, and Cocktails from Seattle’s Culinary Diva) and it has been a winner for me every since. My friends love her recipe and would probably revolt if I held a party and didn’t offer them. And I received the ultimate compliment one evening when Thierry Ratureau, chef/owner of Rover’s and sometimes known as the Chef in the Hat, tried one at a charity event he was judging and nodded his approval as he reached for a second. Hot out of the oven, they are the perfect cheesy, light bite with champagne or a cocktail.
As with many things, Kathy’s recipe is a twist on the original, traditional version of gougère. I had been planning to make the more traditional version for some time and two recent events were just the impetus I needed.
The first was the opening of Quinn’s, Scott Staples gastro-pub on Capitol Hill. On their menu they offer "warm, cheesy, gougères". The twist to their offering is that the gougère is filled with melted cheese – similar to a jelly donut. They were good but I was actually a little disappointed they were filled that way.
The second event was my recent stop at Café Campagne for their Happy Hour. They offer a beautiful version of the original. Adding a bit of extra flair to the little puffs, they pipe them through a star tip so the resulting gougères have swirled ridges decorating the tops. They are quite beautiful. While the gougères were very good, they had not been warmed and eating a warm gougère is, for me, what makes gougères not just good but great!
This past Friday night I had some friends over for dinner and I decided this was the perfect time to make the traditional Gruyère gougère. While all were very similar, my recipe search turned up several variations and so I pulled bits and pieces from three or four recipes and came up with my own version. I was very pleased with the result and so were my guests – the gougère were inhaled in a heartbeat!
Many people are afraid of this sort of recipe and I’m not exactly sure why. I find these very easy to make. You do need to follow the steps without variation – at least until you learn your way around puffs – but it’s a pretty straightforward process.
Gruyère Gougère (Cheese Puffs)
¼ cup water
¾ cup milk
8 Tbsp butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup flour
1 ½ cups grated Gruyère
Place water, milk and butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir often until mixture boils. Add flour all at once. Stir until dough is smooth and has come together in a ball. Stir one more minute to slightly dry the dough.
Put dough in mixer bowl. Using paddle attachment, mix the dough at medium high speed. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Beat until the dough is smooth and a little glossy. Once all eggs have been incorporated, let dough rest about 5 minutes.
Add ¾ – 1 cup of the Gruyère and mix until incorporated. Let dough rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour. (Will keep for up to 3 days.)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line baking trays with parchment. Place dough by rounded teaspoonful on the sheets or use a pastry bag with large tip to create more uniform gougère.
Press a little of the remaining Gruyère on top of each gougère.
Place sheets on upper rack in oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. You may also want to place a second sheet under the first to keep the bottoms from over-browning. The gougère should be golden brown.