With Bastille Day just around the corner (July 14th), it might be good to celebrate the beginning of the French Revolution with a tray of gougères and a glass of bubbly.
The dainty French cheese puffs are a part of our St. Louis heritage. But I’ve not seen them on many menus in the area. They’ve been around since the 16th century and are easier to make than you’d think. The golden pom-poms are as light as air, unbelievably delicious, and dazzling to serve. (From what I recall of my four years of high school French, the word is pronounced: goo-zhair; the ‘s’ isn’t sounded.)
A visual step-by step of Food and Wine’s recipe for gougères can be seen at MichDish.com. Or you could order some at Bar Les Freres. But I thought you’d find it more fun to watch me fret over whether or not my little clumps of dough would turn into poofy clouds.
Follow along, s’il vous plait . . .
Gougères, fresh from the oven, are hot and heavenly! Two bites and—poof—they’re gone. The recipe below comes from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Around My French Table. The author, who was described by the New York Times as having an “encouraging voice,” was also complimented by Julia Child for “writing recipes just the way I do.”
Joyeux jour de la Bastille!
Ingredients: (Makes 36)
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup water
- 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 1½ cups grated cheese (Gruyere, Emmenthal, Swiss, Cheddar or a combination)
- Prepare the oven by positioning the 2 racks evenly.
- Preheat to 425F.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium sized saucepan over high heat, bring milk, water, butter and salt to a boil while whisking.
- Add flour, lower heat to medium-low, and stir with a wooden spoon until dough is smooth (a few minutes). Should resemble play dough.
- Remove from heat and transfer to an electric mixer with a paddle attachment.
- Slowly add eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is incorporated into the dough before adding the next egg. The dough should be shiny and smooth.
- Finally, beat in the cheese.
- Spoon onto prepared baking sheets by the tablespoon, about 2 inches apart—about a dozen on each baking sheet. (Note: Some recipes call for a few sprinkles of Kosher salt or a little grated Parmesan on each puff to give the top a crackly texture. Use salt only on those you plan to serve immediately as salt attracts moisture.)
- Put the sheets into the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375F. Bake for 12 minutes. Rotate baking sheets top to bottom and also front to back to ensure even baking. Bake for an additional 12-14 minutes, or until golden.
- Serve warm or room temperature.
Kitchen Note: If making gougères ahead, freeze the clumps of pastry dough on a cooking sheet until solid, then store in a heavy freezer bag. For a quick appetizer, remove and place frozen puffs onto a parchment covered baking tray and cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Puffs can be split and filled with a thin sliver of ham or a spread.