A gougere is just a fancy name for a cheese puff. It is made out of pâte à choux dough, one of the most universal pastry doughs out there. The basic dough is made with just a couple ingredients, water, eggs, flour and butter. Once you learn the technique, the recipes you can make with it are endless. When I was in cooking school, some of my fellow classmates and I had the genius idea to start a food truck that only sold food made from pâte à choux dough. We wanted to sell gougeres, eclairs, cream puffs, profiteroles and churros all around San Francisco. Thankfully that food idea faded away once we graduated and got jobs in the culinary world, but if we had gone through with that food truck idea, this is the gougere recipe that I would have made and sold from that truck.
A cheesy gougere might just be the perfect holiday party appetizer recipe because they can be made up to two weeks in advance, baked, then frozen. Throw them in the oven just before your guests arrive and voila, you will have a delicious appetizer and no one will know it came from your freezer.
Another great part about a gougere is that you can play around with any flavor combination. Feel free to swap the cheddar for Gruyere and use rosemary instead of thyme. Or add cracked black pepper to give it a kick. Another option would be to make giant gougeres and stuff them with bacon and pickled shallots, kind of like a gougere sandwich (yum, now that is a food truck idea!). The possibilities are endless.
So when you are entertaining this holiday season, try these gougeres, I promise they will become your secret weapon for all future entertaining.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of cayenne pepper
large pinch of kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped plus more for garnish
4 large eggs
1.) Preheat oven to 400°F.
2.) Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized saucepan bring butter and 1 cup water to a boil over medium high heat. Remove from heat. Add flour, cayenne, and salt and stir well to blend. Return the saucepan to medium high heat and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball and a thin, dry film forms on bottom and sides of pan, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. (You can also do this by hand with a wooden spoon) Add 1 cup cheddar, ½ cup Parmesan and thyme; beat on low speed to blend. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each egg between additions, and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
3.) Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2″ tip and pipe dough onto prepared baking sheets in 1 ½ ” rounds, spacing 1″ apart. If you do not want to use piping bag, use 2 spoons to place small dollops of gougère dough on the baking sheet.
4.) Dip your index finger in water and gently pat each gougère to form a rounded top. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar, Parmesan and thyme.
5.) Bake gougères until puffed and golden brown and centers are cooked through but still moist, 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.
(If you want to make and freeze ahead, fully bake the gougères, let cool and store in an airtight freezer bag for up to two weeks. When ready to serve, rewarm in a 325F oven for about 5 – 10 minutes)