The Gougères That Will Change Your Life

In this post, I was going to tell you all about our recent trip to Chicago.

About how we went to Eataly in the city and it was so jaw-dropingly fabulous that I could have spent all day there, but settled for an hour. About how I renewed my passion for public transportation – the train is the only way to go in a big city! About how my siblings and I cooked together and made a spring feast one night. About how there is nothing like silly laughing in the kitchen at the crack of dawn with your sister and her kids, all in our jammies. About how we spent lots of quality time with my parents including throwing a little party on their behalf in their new apartment – and what we served at it (including 36 month aged Proscuitto from Eataly wrapped around Italian grissini). And finally getting around to describing the Gougères I made for the same gathering.

Chicago: Riding the train into the city and Eataly!

Chicago: Riding the train into the city and Eataly!

But, having served Gougères again at a different gathering just two days ago, I decided I need to cut to the chase and get you this recipe right away. Why? Because at the most recent event a friend took one bite and, holding the rest of the little savory puff aloft in his hand, announced to the group in a profound but happy tone: ”These will change your life”. Wow.

The funniest part is that the friend who made this important announcement is a man of the cloth, the Pastor at our church. I would say he knows a thing or two about life changing experiences. And I am so proud to have my Gougères among them!

If you’re already familiar with the splendid little savory cheese pastries called Gougères in French, then you are probably nodding your head in agreement right now. If you’re not, do read on – after all, it’s Thursday afternoon and I think you’re due for a little life-changing, no?

You need to get these lovelies into your repertoire, and I mean soon. They are easy to make, can be made in advance (frozen and re-heated even), are season-less, delicious, savory and cheesy, but not messy. They go beautifully with several types of wine (including sparkling and Pinot noir) and I have never met a soul who doesn’t love them. For all of these reasons and more, we keep them on our menu at our Wine Bar. If we ever took them off I think our customers would mutiny. And when they’re baking in the oven the whole place smells so delicious its positively swoon-worthy.

People have been known to make these in many variations (blue cheese instead of gruyere, for instance) which is all well and good, but my heart belongs to the original, classic recipe. Having said that, I did add a little minced fresh thyme when I made them for my parent’s friends. They were good certainly, but I don’t think they were actually better than the original.

You can find hundreds of Gougères recipes out there, it is after all a very classic French savory (ubiquitous in the wine cellars of Burgundy, by the way), but my go to recipe is this one from Ina Garten.

Try it, it will change your life.

Spring gathering with Gougeres

Spring gathering with Gougeres

 

Gougères

By Maria Stuart Published: April 10, 2014

  • Yield: about 40 puffs

This is Ina Garten's recipe from "Barefoot In Paris". Don't be imitated by making the pastry. It sounds daunting, but once you do it you'll see it's a snap. You can make them in advance, par bake, transfer them to a zip lock back once cool and then bake again in a hot oven when you're ready to serve. They're best hot, but darn good at room temperature too.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the milk, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg over medium heat until the butter has melted and the milk is scalded (Just below the boiling point. Bubbles will form just around the edge of the pan).
  3. Add the flour all at once and stir it vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes. The flour will begin to coat the back of the pan.
  4. Immediately add the eggs, both cheeses and pulse until the eggs are incorporated and the dough is smooth and thick.
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  5. Either spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe in mounds in a quantity of about a tablespoon. Or use two spoons to scoop out the mixture and dollop on the parchment. (I always do the latter, my pastry bag skills are no good!) With a damp finger you can shape the puff as you like.
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  6. Brush the top of each puff with egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water). Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown outside but still soft inside.
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