I know, gougères sounds like fancy food. Delicious, of course, but probably super tricky to make. You might think that these are better left to the professionals or at least the person invited to the holiday party with the perfect hair and the fanciest heels who giggled when she said they were no big deal to whip up. Effortless, she might have said. Well, this imaginary person is close to telling the truth.
These gougères are easy to whip up for an incredible party snack. I don’t even wear heels and I’ve got a recent unfortunate $10 hair cut (seriously) as proof that the most un-fancy person in the room (me!) can whip these up with ease. This schlub made some fancy ass gougères and they were so delicious that everyone at the party loved them and wanted the recipe. This is the honest truth.
You can make them too! Need more of an incentive? Drop the dough onto the baking sheet and then freeze them. Then, if you have unexpected guests or guests that need more instant nourishment, pop the frozen puffs into the oven and, voila! Done and done.
If you’re in the US, the Thanksgiving holiday is starting right about now and you might be on the hunt for a last-minute hors d’oeuvres. If you live elsewhere, like me up in Canada, holiday parties are sneaking up quick. These light, airy, buttery, cheesy otherworldly delights might just be the most impressive thing you pull out of your oven this season. Effortless, you might even say.
You can scroll down for the recipe, but I’m always a sucker for a good gift list and I have a short one for you & whoever is on your gift list. These are all ELS Approved and get my stamp of Awesome.
1. Nifty silicone lids. This is the only thing on my list that was given to me from a company but I liked them so much they’re my number one gift idea for any home cook. I use them to cover bowls or pots in the fridge, but they also make a damn fine basted egg when you throw one of these over your fry pan while cooking an egg. Plus, they look freaking cool! You may have to contact GIR on twitter to find out when they’re available.
2. A muddler. A friend gave me this wooden muddler for my birthday and I love it so much that I went out and bought another one for a different friend. Some muddlers have a flat bottom – skip those. You need a muddler with pointy bits to help release all those fragrant oils from citrus fruits. If you or someone you know likes cocktails, this is a must have item.
3. Ice cold Swell water bottle. I wasn’t sure if the hype surrounding this bottle is real, but I love it. It keeps water cold for at least 12 hours (24 hours like it claims might be a stretch). If water is ice cold I drink more of it. The bottle I own has a grippy outer shell so no slippage & it’s pretty too.
4. Apple Corer. I eat way too many apples in the fall. The fact that I only just bought this last week for myself is a crying shame. Coring apples is so much easier with this tool than using a paring knife. All my life I did it the hard way, now, there is no going back.
If I can squeeze in one more recommendation, it’s to check out my etsy shop! It’s full of cute holiday cards, notepads and birthday calendars ready for giving and using this holiday. Okay, back to the cheese puffs!
spicy cheddar gougères (aka cheese puffs)
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/2 c whole milk
1 t dijon mustard
1/2 t kosher salt
a large pinch (up to 1/2 t) aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper
1 c all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1.5 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Line two baking sheets with a silpat mat – or lightly grease some parchment paper and place on top of baking sheet.
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, milk, dijon, salt, aleppo pepper, and a 1/2 cup of water over medium-high heat. Let the mixture come to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer (medium-low) and gently whisk in the flour until smooth. Continue to cook, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula until the mixture pulls away from the sides, forms a ball and dries out slightly – approx. 3 minutes or so.
Transfer this hot mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and let it sit for one minute. Beat it with the paddle attachment for 1 minute until it cools down. Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, mixing thoroughly between each one. When all the eggs are incorporated, stir in the cheese.
Use a tablespoonful to drop the batter into little mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between gougères. Bake at 450°F for 7 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake until the gougères are golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Immediately after removing from the oven, poke each gougère once with a skewer to allow steam to escape. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Makes about 40 pieces or so.