It’s Super Bowl weekend! Are you a Patriots fan? Eagles? Confession: I don’t follow football. At all. I actually didn’t know until yesterday who was playing in this year’s game. My ears did perk up, though, when I heard Justin Timberlake is headlining the halftime show.
But perhaps we should step outside the box. Light, fluffy, cheesy, and crispy? Hello! I think gougères would be the perfect thing to nibble nervously as your team inches toward the end zone.
Our good friend Steve, a fellow foodie, whipped up a batch of these recently and served them as a pre-dinner snack with wine. One bite and I was begging him for the recipe, so he kindly sent me the one he used from NYT Cooking’s Melissa Clark.
Gougères: they sound fancy, don’t they? Very Frrrrrrench. And it’s true, these aren’t exactly Cartman’s Cheesy Poofs. Gougères are made from a classic choux pastry dough, the same dough used for eclairs and cream puffs. This version is infused with plenty of nutty, tangy gruyere cheese and sprinkled with parmesan. I don’t know about you, but fancy or not, I’m good right there.
They bake up into delicately rounded bite-size little pillows of cheesy delight. They’d be perfectly at home on a pretty tray at a cocktail party spread, paired with champagne. But they’re super versatile. You can slice them in half and fill them with chive cream cheese, smear them with a dollop of fig jam, or use them to scoop up onion dip. Or you can just pop them in your mouth, still hot, straight from the oven.
These guys are really easy to make. I’d never made a choux dough before, and once I did I wondered why it had taken me so long to try. I made this recipe as it was originally written, with no adjustments for altitude, and it worked perfectly. Also – for you Super Bowl planners – the dough can be made in advance. Just dollop out the dough and freeze until ready to bake.
The NYT recipe instructs you to use a piping method to form the balls, but because my piping skillz need some serious work, I found it much easier to just scoop up little dollops with a small spoon and gently drop them on the baking sheets. They’re not perfectly uniform, but I actually think all those crispy, craggy edges make them taste even better.
These are best right after baking, when they’re warm and crispy-chewy. They can get a little spongy after sitting overnight. But if you have other people around (or maybe even if you don’t), I doubt you’ll have trouble unloading them all immediately. They are are damn addictive. I’ll bet even Justin Timberlake would come back for seconds.
Packed with tons of nutty, cheesy flavor in a light, airy crust, these Gougères are the perfectly-poppable snack for your cocktail party, game day, or cozy night in.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 45 mins
- Yield: about 4 dozen
1 cup (8 oz) water
4 TB (2 oz/1/2 stick) salted butter
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup (5 oz) bread flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
5 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) shredded Gruyère cheese
1 oz (about 1/4 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, salt, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then add the flour, stirring constantly with a spoon or rubber spatula, until a dough forms and comes together inside the pot (this took under a minute for me).
Transfer the dough to a mixer and beat on low speed for about a minute. Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating each fully. Beat in the Gruyère.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag, or (my preferred method) form small balls with a spoon (two tsp each). Place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets and sprinkle each with Parmesan.
*At this point, the gougeres can be frozen for future use. Freeze on baking sheets to set, then transfer to plastic freezer bag. When ready to bake, put on baking sheets, frozen, and bake as directed, adding a few minutes at the end of baking.
Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350° and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately, if possible. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and re-crisped briefly in the oven.
… Use the highest-quality cheese you can find, and grate it yourself. Pre-shredded varieties often contain other ingredients such as cornstarch, and are lacking in flavor.