Cooking With Confidence
gougeres
Appetizers, Breads, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Gorgeous Gougeres

by Nick

I’ll be completely honest. I don’t cook a lot of French food. This is definitely not because I don’t enjoy French food. I find it to be some of the best food out there of course.

But it can be a bit intimidating mainly for two reasons.

1) There’s a lot of special characters involved! I don’t speak French so inevitably I have to have the “It’s not gougeres, it’s gougéres” conversation. I get it. French is a beautiful language, but seriously I’m too lazy to keep track of it all. You’re lucky I’m not calling them cheese puffs.

2) It’s also inevitable that if I make something French, like these, I will accidentally serve them to someone who is actually French.

This exact thing happened over New Year’s! I’ve been meaning to try these out for a long time and I thought they’d be a good snack to bring to a party. What are the chances that I would run into a French person in Grand Junction, Colorado?

Of course, that’s exactly what happened. Except she wasn’t JUST French. She also happened to be a culinary instructor. Hilarity ensued.

Yield
24 gougeres
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Gougeres

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup water
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour (4 ounces if you're measuring)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 Cup Gruyere cheese, grated

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Add butter, water, salt to a sturdy pot over medium heat and cook until butter is melted and the mixture is simmering.

2) Add flour and stir to combine.  The dough should easily pull away from the sides of the pot.  Cook another minute or two to cook out some extra water.  Stir continuously.

3) Let the mixture cool for a few minutes until it's hot, but you should be able to touch it.

4) Beat the eggs into the dough, one at a time, using either a stand mixer on low or a spoon (wooden is best).

5) Once eggs are incorporated, the dough should be silky smooth.  Then stir in cheese.

6) Spoon or pipe mixture onto baking sheets with silpats or with parchment paper into ping pong ball sized balls.  You should get 24-30.

7) Bake at 425 until puff is set, somewhere between 10-12 minutes most likely.

8) Turn heat down to 350 degrees and cook until done all the way through, another 15-20 minutes.  Try not to take them out of the oven until they are done.  Test one to make sure it's light and also there's no wet dough on the inside.

9) These are best right away, but still good a day after also.

Recipe from Ratio.

Making the Dough

This dough has a tough name (Pâte à Choux), but saying the name is pretty much the hardest part. It’s an interesting dough though because you actually cook it!

This is all you really need for the whole recipe.

ingredients

The basics.

Start by mixing your butter and water with the salt in a sturdy pot. Set this over medium heat until the butter is melted and the liquid is lightly simmering.

butter melted

Butter soup.

Then add in your flour and stir well to combine. This was the step I was most scared about because it just seemed weird, but it works like a charm and results in a really moist, soft dough. Turn the heat down to low on the stove and continue to cook this, stirring continuously for a minute or two. You just want to cook off some of the water.

The dough should easily pull away from the sides of the pot.

flour added

Weird!

Beating in the eggs

Next you need to mix the eggs into the dough, one at a time.

The important step here is to let the dough cool for a minute or two before doing this, otherwise you’ll just cook the eggs which is a bad idea.

You want the dough hot still, but you should be able to touch it without it burning your finger.

Then transfer your dough to your stand mixer (or just mix in the eggs with a preferably wooden spoon). On low, beat in one egg at a time with the beater blade.

The dough should become silky as the eggs mix in.

Once you get all your eggs in, add your grated cheese and stir until cheese is melted.

mixing in eggs

Really nice dough.

Portioning the Puffs

Once your dough is ready, just spoon (or pipe) it onto a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and leave a bit of space between each puff.

Here’s the thing… I made mine too big. I think my dough was a bit on the wet side and so when I tried to follow the golf ball sized instruction, the dough kind of spread a bit on me and I ended up with something like squash ball sized gougères.

I think I should’ve cooked my dough for another 30 seconds or so and also portioned these a bit smaller. Next time I’ll think ping pong ball sized puffs.

Have no fear though. It’s a learning experience as confirmed by the French cooking instructor I accidentally fed these to.

laid out

Tooo big.

Baking the Puffs

You obviously want these to PUFF. They should be really light and airy. Here’s the key steps to this as confirmed by my new French cooking instructor friend:

  1. Start cooking them in a preheated 425 degree (HOT) oven and cook them at this temperature until they are set, meaning that the outside crust is stable. For me this was like 15 minutes and some of them didn’t work out because they were too big. Normally, I would think this would be in the 10-12 minute range.
  2. Don’t take them out of the oven. Try not to even open the oven!
  3. Once the puffs are set, turn the heat down to 350 degrees and cook them until they are cooked done all the way through, probably another 15-20 minutes.
  4. Test a puff before you pull them all out of the oven. Make sure they are light and airy and there’s no wet dough on the inside.

The Most Important Part

The most important thing to remember though is not to stress about these guys. At the end of the day you’ve mixed butter, cheese, and eggs together. They are going to be good as long as you don’t burn them into bricks.

I’m pretty sure I broke all four of those above rules and my still turned out to be very edible although not quite as puffed as I would have liked.

puffed

Pretty puffy.

At the end of the day, my gougeres turned out to be more like very puffy, hollow, cheesy biscuits. But you know what? They were really tasty.

Even the French cooking instructor complimented the flavor and texture even though the shape of my gougères wasn’t exactly traditional.

That’s okay though. They were still gourgeous to me.

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15 comments on “Gorgeous Gougeres

  1. Hi Nick,
    Best wishes for the new year! I've made choux puffs before and they turned out well, but two weeks ago I tried it and it was no good, they were not puffy and hollow inside like before. Don't know where I went wrong? these with the cheese looks nice

    1. Not sure on that… Maybe the oven wasn't preheated? It has to be really hot to start so they rise immediately and set.

  2. I followed Ruhlman's recipe for a pate a choux for chicken and dumplings, and it turned out waaaaaay too runny. I should have just stuck to the Joy of Cooking's or something! That Ruhlman.

  3. Baking for Dummies has a section on pate a choux (and a pronounciation guide ; p). First time I made them (for eclaires) they didn't puff up properly and the dough was really runny, the second time I beat the dough for longer (built up quite some muscle! It gets REALLY TOUGH) and they came out great (but the creme anglaise filling failed – I just can't win!).

  4. My mother, a Pennsylvania Dutch girl who was definitely not a fancy cook, made waht she called "cream putts" all the time (without the cheese) and filled them with something more like vanilla pudding than creme anglaise. I have no idea where she learned to make them but seeing a recipe for pate a choux always brings back happy memories.

  5. This reminds me a brazilian recipe – Pão de Queijo, do you know?!
    It's made with tapioca starch ….

    Happy 2011!

  6. I love making these! So much goodness, and they come together much more easily then I'd originally thought. I usually use the Gourmet recipe, which suggests using a tablespoon if you're not piping, and I've found that to be a great size when serving as appetizers. And add some nutmeg! If there's ever a time to use freshly grated nutmeg–it's with these.

  7. Hi Nick, just found your blog! I just came across a recipe for these and thought they sounded yummy! I will give them a try this weekend. I have family in GJ, love to visit there! Thanks for the blog! Food is my second love next to my husband!

  8. I just made these and am in heaven just looking at them. Then there is the aroma. Three parties, three inspired Macheesmo recipes, three rousing successes. I am almost afraid to keep going. My friends' expectations are getting ridiculously high.

  9. These things are amazing. I followed your advice when I made them…cooked off a little more water. They came out GREAT! Thanks!

  10. Ah, this makes sense. The process is extremely similar to a souffle, except here you have more flour than egg. The “dough” is just a roux, and then you add the eggs in one at a time. Master these and you’re most of the way there with souffles too!

  11. Thanks for the recipe Nick. You have so many wonderful pix in this post, but the most important one is missing….that of the inside of the puff. I’ve made these in the past and they came out more like biscuits than the airy confections you describe above. A picture of the inside of your completed puff would have been welcomed.

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