For once, I'm going to keep this short and sweet.
Gougères ("goo-zsair", the "zs" pronounced like the "zs" in Zsa Zsa Gabor) are these awesome cheese poofs the French invented and they rock. The first time I made them, they didn't rock. In fact, they resembled rocks. Zsa Zsa would've slapped me.
Actually, gougères are a savory pâte à choux ("pat uh shoe") dough filled with gruyère ("grooyair") cheese that, once baked, are hollow and moist on the inside...and oh so cheesy. Yum ("yum").
This time, I successfully made gougères for Seth's birthday party using the recipe out of our new cookbook, The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. Needless to say, they were quickly devoured, and my standing as a cook amongst my friends rose a notch. Thanks Tom!
Make these darn things today and you'll see what I mean!
1 cup water
7 tablespoons (3½ ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Pinch of sugar
1¼ cups (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 to 5 large eggs
1¼ cups grated Gruyère (5 ounces)
Freshly ground white pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball and the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook and stir for a full 2 minutes).
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle and beat for about 30 seconds at medium speed to cool slightly. Add 4 eggs and continue to mix until completely combined and the batter has a smooth, silky texture. Stop the machine and lift up the beater to check the consistency of the batter. The batter in the mixing bowl should form a peak with a tip that falls over. If it is too stiff, beat in the white of the remaining egg. Check again and, if necessary, add the yolk. Finally, mix in 3/4 cup of the Gruyère and adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain pastry tip with the gougère batter. Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the gougères as the mixture will spread during baking. Sprinkle the top of each gougère with about 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining grated cheese and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they puff and hold their shape. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. When the gougères are done, they should be a light golden brown color. When you break one open, it should be hollow; the inside should be cooked but still slightly moist. Remove the pans from the oven and serve the gougères while hot.