Gougères are classic French cheese puffs made from pâte à choux. Think cream puffs. Only savory with cheese in the batter. Light and eggy with rounded, crackly tops and hollow centers that are perfect for filling.
These are stuffed with cream cheese, tomato and fresh thyme. Insanely and crazily delicious. Two-bites per puff will leave you wanting more.
Because of all the things I’ve read on the internet about them being difficult to make and seeing lots of failed (i.e. flat) gougères I’ve been intimidated to make them. Silly.
I found the entire process of making them easier than expected. The key is to get all your ingredients lined up including readying your piping bag and baking sheet because the recipe moves quickly from one step to the next and it’s best to be prepared.
If you never made pâte à choux before the technique is unique! The pastry is started stove top by heating the butter and flour together while simultaneously stirring. The eggs and cheese are then beaten in with an electric mixer and piped into little rounds and baked.
These make great appetizers straight from the oven hot and steamy (you can freeze them!) or filled with anything you’re heart can imagine. You can serve them in place of rolls for dinner or make a meal out of them with a salad.
Classic French cheese puffs stuffed with a cream cheese, tomato and thyme filling.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet (I use an aluminum one) with a silpat or parchment paper. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip (you can also use a small cookie/ice cream scoop).
- Combine the water, butter, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan, place over medium heat and stir until butter is melted. Once the butter has melted, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and using a wooden spoon stir in all the flour.
- Continue to stir for 1 1/2 minutes until the mixture has a paste-like consistency then place over medium-high heat and stir rapidly for 1 minute, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean. The dough should be glossy and smooth but not dry.
- Immediately transfer the dough to a mixer bowl and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to release some of the moisture.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating on low speed until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next one. Scrape down sides of the bowl if needed and continue mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Increase speed to medium for 15 seconds then stop the mixer and lift the beater. The dough should form a bird's peak - it should hold it's shape and turn down on itself but not break off.
- Add the cheese and beat on medium 1 minute or until evenly incorporated.
- Spoon the batter into the pastry bag. Pipe 1 to 1+1/2 inch sized rounds about an inch apart on the baking sheet. After piping, use your finger tip with a little water to push down and get rid of the little point that is left on top of each one from the piping.
- (You can freeze the gougeres at this point.) Bake for 22 - 25 minutes or until golden brown - don't underbake - it's better to err on the side of overbaking - underbaking them can cause them to collapse.
- If you are baking from frozen: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with frozen gougeres, leaving about 1 inch between them. Spray lightly with water. Place in the oven, immediately lower temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Meanwhile make the filling: In a small bowl beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Stir in the tomatoes and thyme, season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Split the warm gougeres and spread with the cream cheese filling.
Adapted from Thomas Keller
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