Gougere – the irresistible French cheese puffs. They are great with a glass of wine. I make mine with lots of Parmesan cheese and finely chopped chives. If the French name is too difficult, call them what I do – Golden Parmesan Puffs. Easy to make, but impressive.
Do you remember the first time you bravely attempted a new technique, a new recipe? I still remember making gougere (goo-zhare) for the first time. It was strange how the pastry dough came together, but it worked beautifully. Once you make these Golden Parmesan Puffs you’ll have another recipe in your collection for entertaining family and friends, or just for enjoying yourself.
Making Choux Pastry or Pate a Choux
The formal name for this pastry dough is choux (shoo) pastry or pate a choux (pot-ah-shoo). Bring milk and butter to a boil, dump in flour, and stir like mad until the dough pulls away from the side of the pan. Add eggs, one at a time and again, stir like mad until they are well incorporated and the dough smooths out.
The pastry will look odd while you stir. At first it looks curdled and slippery from the eggs and you wonder if it will come together. Suddenly it does, and forms a smooth pastry dough.
Add cheese and chives, then stir some more. You’ll have a thick, savory dough to portion out and bake.
I’ve piped them and dropped dollops with spoons in the past. Now I use what’s called a disher. A disher is a tool I can’t live without in my kitchen. I have 5-6 sizes of them for various tasks. They make portion control and handling ingredients easy. For small puffs I use a #40 disher that is 1 ½” across.
For flour, I’ve tested three types: organic white whole wheat, organic whole wheat pastry, and a gluten-free blend called Cup4Cup. All three came out great. The difference between white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour is the type of wheat; a hard wheat versus a soft wheat. Pastry flour is a soft wheat which contains less gluten and provides a more tender baked good.
For Gluten-Free Bakers
For gluten-free gougere I tested with Cup4Cup (C4C) gluten-free flour. The dough looks little different as it forms but the process is the same. The gougere came out great. After three test batches, here are the changes from the standard recipe. Substitute 1/2 cup (78 grams) of the C4C for the regular flour and turn oven down to 350 degrees (177 C). Bake until just golden. Time will depend on your ovens as they can vary. Note that Bob’s Red Mill also makes a great gluten-free flour blend, available everywhere these days.
The gluten-free batch did not puff as did the wheat gougere, but they tasted terrific and will be appreciated by anyone following a gluten-free diet.
My last and best batch took about 20-25 minutes. They were golden on the outside and done but a tiny bit moist on the inside. My friend and gluten-free baking expert, Dr. Jean Layton, told me that g-free flours based on cornstarch (as is C4C) result in baked goods that tend to dry out a little more quickly. So that little bit of moistness is probably good. The next day, they were perfect.
New Note for Gluten-Free Bakers (12/14)
As many of the pre-made blends use sorghum flour (and I have to eliminate that as well as gluten), I am now baking these with my own gluten-free flour blend. The new blend I created mixes brown rice, sweet rice, and quinoa flours plus cornstarch and tapioca. The quantities are in the recipe notes below. For accuracy, you will need a digital scale to blend your flours.
Gougere – Golden Parmesan Puffs (regular and gluten-free)
Yield: 12 small puffs, about 4-6 servings as an appetizer. Recipe doubles easily
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) low fat milk
- 2 ounces (57 grams) unsalted butter
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (65 grams), whole wheat pastry flour (72 grams) or gluten-free flour blend (72 grams)
- 2 large or extra-large eggs
- 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus a little extra for sprinkling on top)
- 1 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- Equipment – parchment paper
- #40 disher (optional but sure makes them easy to portion)
Note: Ready all ingredients and tools before you start as this goes quickly.
Pre-heat oven to 400° or 350° for gluten-free flours (204 C/177 C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place butter in a medium saucepan and melt over low heat. When butter is melted, add the milk, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. When the milk and butter get to a full boil, dump in the flour and salt all at once. Turn heat down to medium-low and stir like mad with a wooden spoon. Stir, beat and fold until the pastry pulls away from the sides of the pan. It takes about 2 minutes for wheat flour but happens more quickly with gluten-free flours. Remove the pastry to a medium bowl and cool 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add eggs, one at a time, stirring energetically after each one until completely incorporated. Although it may look strange in process as the eggs slip around, the pastry will come together. Stir in the cheese and chives.
- With a #40 disher, piping bag with plain tip or tablespoon, drop portions of pastry onto parchment lined baking sheets (or use a silicone mat). Sprinkle a little extra Parmesan on top if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Check the puffs early and watch them as ovens and timing vary. Allow puffs to stand for a few minutes after baking.
Serve immediately or cool completely and place in an airtight container. Puffs can be made a day ahead and served at room temperature or warmed in the oven for a few minutes.
(12/14) New Gluten-Free Flours Blend: With a digital scale, weigh out 40 grams brown rice flour, 35 grams sweet rice flour, 25 grams quinoa flour, 20 grams cornstarch and 24 grams tapioca flour. Whisk together until well blended. You can do it all in one bowl using the tare feature. I used all Bob’s Red Mill flours.
Information on flours from King Arthur
Information on flours from Bob’s Red Mill
Cup4Cup gluten-free flour, available at Williams-Sonoma, some stores and online
Rimmed baking sheets. Can’t live without these in my kitchen. Half size and quarter size are the most versatile.
Pre-cuts sheets of baking parchment. These are not only for baking. You will find many uses for them and one pack lasts a long time.
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