Apart from enjoying the stories Fromage Homage shares about her ongoing cheese journey, and being in awe of her every time she tackles cheese making, I enjoy taking part in her monthly Cheese Please! Recipe Blog Challenge as it does just that – it challenges me. It also gives me the incentive I need to finally get around to making all these different and more uncommon cheese recipes I’ve come across and filed for future cooking adventures.
This month’s Cheese Please! is cheddar, and I instantly thought of Gougeres, tiny and delicate balls of pate a choux pastry infused with cheese. They are usually served warm as a pre-dinner snack, in place of bread rolls with dinner, as part of brunch, or cold as snacks and as part of wine tastings. You could even cut them in half and then sandwich them back together between ham or sautéed mushrooms.
Traditionally, Gougeres are made with Gruyere, Comte or Emmentaler cheeses. I have had Gruyere Gougeres before, and the cheese just didn’t stand up to the pastry. I think that cheddar is a perfectly suitable alternative – provided you are not dealing with a cheese snob – as its flavour manages to stand out but also doesn’t overpower the pate a choux pastry.
There are many, many Gougeres recipes out there, using a variety of cheese and herb mixes. However, since this was my first time making pate a choux pastry, I thought I would go with a master’s recipe.
Recipe by David Lebovitz, which can be found here.
- ½ cup water
- 40g butter (cut into cubes)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Big pinch of chilli powder
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs (not extra-large or jumbo)
- 12 chives (finely minced)
- ¾ cup grated sharp cheddar
- Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
- Heat the water, butter, salt, and chilli powder in a saucepan until the butter is melted.
- Dump in the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides into a smooth ball. Remove from heat and let rest two minutes. (You must allow the mixture to rest or cool at this point.)
- Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly to make sure the eggs don’t ‘cook’. The batter will first appear lumpy, but after a minute or so, it will smooth out. (You can transfer the mixture to a bowl before adding to eggs to cool the dough, or do this step in a food processor or electric mixer, if you wish.)
- Add about 3/4s of the grated cheese and the chives, and stir until well-mixed.
- Scrape the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a wide plain tip and pipe the dough into mounds, evenly-spaced apart, making each about the size of a small cherry tomato. Or simply use two spoons to portion and drop the dough onto the baking sheet, which gives them more of a rustic look.
- Top each puff with a bit of the remaining cheese, then pop the baking sheet in the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190°C and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re completely golden brown.
Note: For extra-crispy puffs, five minutes before they’re done, poke the side of each puff with a sharp knife to release the steam, and return to the oven to finish baking.