December 30, 2012
This year, I made many a cup of properly spicy and milky chai. I shared the secret to indulgent, old-school cheese grits, made a vanilla bean panna cotta for Valentine’s Day, posted a guest recipe for addictive, homemade sriracha, and wrote about that beloved Indian restaurant staple: saag paneer.
Jill & I drank our fair share of champagne cocktails, fell in love with an eggplant salad, and joyfully welcomed baby Shiv into our lives. My mom retired, sold the house I grew up in, and moved to a new house less than two miles away from ours.
It’s been a YEAR, friends. Jill & I plan to celebrate it with some homemade pasta and a trip to the movies while Shiv hangs out with his grandmother. On New Year’s Day, we’ll offer the little man his first taste of solid food—sweet potatoes from our dear friends’ garden.
If you’ve got festivities lined up to ring in 2013, allow me to humbly suggest you bring some of these gougères to the party. Light, addictive, and just a little bit fancy, these bites of cheese-filled pastry are easy to make ahead and reheat when you’re ready to serve them (alongside glasses of champagne, of course!)
Recipe from Alain Ducasse as published in Food & Wine, October 2003
To make gougères, you first make pâte à choux, or choux pastry, which is the same pastry dough used to make éclairs, profiteroles, and beignets, among other French desserts.
Pâte à choux is cooked twice—first in a saucepan as you make the dough, and a second time in the oven (or fryer, in the case of beignets), where the large amount of moisture in the dough creates steam that makes the pastry rise.
Though pâte à choux sounds fancy and intimidating, it isn’t really, I promise. The main thing is to make sure you have your mise en place
—ingredients at the ready—and then it’s as simple as following directions and feeling impressed with yourself when the gougères come out of the oven.
½ cup water
½ cup milk
4 oz. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
large pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded Gruyère, plus a few pinches more for sprinkling
freshly ground pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
pan: baking sheets lined with parchment
To make the pastry, combine the water, milk, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; turn the heat down to low and continue to stir until the dough pulls away from the pan and looks dry.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs to the dough, one at a time, mixing vigorously and thoroughly between each one. Don’t worry if the dough appears to curdle and separate at first! Keep stirring and it will come together. Once all of the eggs have been added, stir in the cheese and a few generous grinds of pepper and a pinch of grated nutmeg.
Spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch round tip (or, if you’re me, into a large Ziploc bag with a small piece cut off of the corner). Piping in a spiral shape, make tablespoon-size rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about an inch of room between each one. Sprinkle with extra cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until puffed and light brown. Serve immediately.
If you are making the gougères ahead, let them cool completely and then refrigerate or freeze them in an airtight container or bag. Reheat in a 350° oven until nice and hot.