Fueling my insatiable desire for all things cheese, cheesy bites has spontaneously become a mini-series. Part II is where I encourage you to get fancy and make French cheese puffs, known as gougères. Don’t worry: they’re not as difficult or pretentious as they sound. (I tried that out with a “neither…nor” first, but that did sound a bit pretentious.)
You’ll notice that my cheese puffs are a bit knobby and uneven. That’s mostly because I didn’t have a pastry bag handy—or even a Ziploc bag that I could fashion into a makeshift pastry bag. Oh well, I say—and so should you. Chances are everyone will be too busy stuffing their faces to notice anyway.
- 125 mL water
- 40 g salted butter, cubed
- Healthy pinch of chili powder or modest pinch of cayenne
- 70 g all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 90 g cheese, grated (I used grated grana padano + crumbled blue)
- Preheat your oven to 220 °C (425 °F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the water, butter and chili powder until the butter is melted.
- Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the saucepan and forms a smooth ball. Remove the mixture from heat and let it rest two minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly to keep them from cooking. Keep mixing until smooth. Stir in the grated cheese.
- At this point, you can either scrape the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a wide, plain tip—or simply use a spoon to mound the mixture into cherry tomato-sized balls on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190 °C (375 °F) and bake for an additional 20–25 minutes until the gougères are golden brown. Serve warm.