I’ve told you about gougeres before, but Imma have to do it again. If I like something, I really like it (multiple ice cream and goat cheese recipes ’round these parts attest to that). Besides–maybe you don’t like blue cheese. Maybe you’re new to hanging out around here, or otherwise didn’t see it… Or maybe you’re okay with me being relentlessly annoying about how delicious and easy-to-make these little cheese puffs are. (I hope that last one is true anyway, but if not, I promise I’ll stop. Gougere Moratorium 2013 starts in… Five minutes.)
Besides, making something and making something for a crowd are two different beasts… So the first thing we do is double the batch. But then, there are other concerns–maybe it’d be wiser to go with something more universally beloved than blue cheese. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like cheddar, gruyere, pepper or thyme (and if I did, I would consider pretending I didn’t hear this information).
As far as doubling the batch, you could just double the amount of ingredients, make a big mass of dough and get it all done in one fell swoop. But there’s a reason for the with two of everything, including the process! (Note: There isn’t a reason for the dropping of references to 1999 gum commercials… I checked.)
I decided to make two smaller batches because:
(a) It’s fun to play with different ingredient combos. Thyme is so classically French–you must, right? If you want.
(b) LEFTOVER CHEESE. All you need for each batch is 3/4 of a cup, which isn’t much at all. It’s an excuse to buy two kinds and eat the rest (not that you need an excuse). I went with gruyere and a crazy cheddar-parmesan hybrid (why they didn’t call it Charmesan, I’ll never understand) from Trader Joe’s. It’s crumbly, nutty and sharp, but any good cheddar of your choice will do.
(c) Stirring an egg into a ball of choux dough requires vigor (because it’s quite stiff) and speed (because it’s still warm and you don’t want to cook the eggs). My arm gets the tireds as it is, and doing two eggs, twice, I find more enjoyable than doing four eggs at once.
(d) I don’t have the oven/cookie sheet space to bake them all at once anyhow, and I am guessing this might apply to you, too.
Ultimately, the two variants don’t taste all that different unless you’re paying attention. Just like real-life twins! There’s a sharp cheesiness to them both–one is enhanced by fragrant, freshly-ground, familiar black pepper. The other is flecked with woodsy, herbal* thyme.
*not alliterating this one, sorry/you’re welcome.
The idea is for you/me to have fun, play with different combinations, eat your/my extra cheese, and make something universally people-pleasing for ALL THE PARTIES you’re going to this summer, and beyond.
P.S. If you’re curious, no, I didn’t try these in France… Mostly because I didn’t see them, but then again, I wasn’t looking that hard.
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Some freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper)
- 3/4 cup shredded gruyere (or sharp cheddar) cheese
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the water, butter and salt until butter is melted. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball, and the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat, and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly to fully incorporate after each addition. Keep stirring until the dough is smooth. Add about 3/4 of the cheese and thyme (or pepper), and mix until just incorporated.
- Transfer the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain wide tip and pipe into cherry tomato-sized mounds, spacing evenly apart. (I end up with 25ish-35ish for each batch, depending on how big I pipe them.) Use your dampened fingers to gently smooth out any pointy tops. Top each puff with a bit of the rest of the cheese.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 375 degrees and continue baking for 20-25 minutes more, until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.