If you're ever stuck for an aperitivo idea I have the answer.
Gougères are little cheese puffs made with chou pastry, they are in fact the savoury version of "chouquettes" (light sugary wonders that you pop into your mouth.) These cheesy wonders entertain that gap between hunger and dinner time.
At the Plaza Athenee we make gougères, and an old chef who worked there told me that they are traditionally made with white wine. I have never come across this white wine recipe, so I'm not sure if he is just one of those people that likes his food to taste like alcohol. A good friend of mine is like that, she sometimes just pours wine into her plate rather than her glass when she feels like there is not enough gravy so I know these people exist. However, one of my missions is to find this traditional recipe and test them out for myself. For now, normal chou pastry recipe applies.
For this recipe, I suggest getting your smelliest of cheeses out, I infact used two cheeses (one cheese two cheese?) to intensify the flavour. (No, seriously, what is the plural of cheese?)
Since chou pastry does not have much taste, it needs to be intensified with a strong flavour.
Ok, I just googled the plural for cheese and I was right the first time, it is cheeses. Phew. Okay, so for these gougères, I used grated parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese; the parmesan adds a very pretty colour and texture and the cheddar gives it that potent flavour that makes them so moreish.
Start by making your chou pastry. Here are three tips of mine for successful chou pastry:
1) Your oven!
The trickiest thing about chou pastry is the oven temperature. They need to be in a consistent heat, which means no opening the oven door "just to see what they look like."
Put your oven on to the maximum whilst you are making the gougeres, (250 degrees C) and then when you put them in the oven turn the oven off. After 10-15 mins, the oven temperature will lower to about 170/180 degrees, so turn the oven on to 170 degrees and let them dry out for further 10-15 minutes. By doing this, they will stay light and airy rather than drop and lose their shape.
2) Measure your ingredients!
This is really very important with chou pastry. If you measure your ingredients out precicely, you should not have any trouble. However, I suggest you always have an extra egg handy just incase your chou pastry is too thick.
3) Size matters
If you don't have a piping bag, I suggest you use a teaspoon and a wet little finger to put the pastry on the baking tray. Using a fork dipped in egg, you can lightly press them down. This will ensure they keep their shape better. Don't make them too big since gougeres are meant to be small, bite sized snacks.
Recipe: Makes 40
150g Plain Flour
4-5 Eggs (Medium Size)
- Grated Parmesan
- Strong Cheddar
- Black Pepper
- Put your oven on to 250 degrees C.
- Heat the milk, butter, salt and sugar. When the butter is melted and the milk starts thoroughly simmering, turn the heat down, add the flour in one go. Mix with intention until it forms a ball of dough in the pan. Turn the heat off.
- Make sure the pan is well away from the stove, and add your eggs one at a time. You can do this in a kitchen aid food processor (on a low speed) or by hand (I suggest.) After the 4th egg, test the consistency of the chou pastry. If it still feels too stiff to pipe, add a little more egg.
- Pipe the gougères out with a piping bag or use a teaspoon and a wet finger on a greaseproof tray or a tray with baking paper.
- Grate some crushed black pepper and sprinkle each gougère with grated parmesan and a thin slice of cheddar cheese.
- Bake in oven following instructions noted above.
- Enjoy with a glass of white wine!