The irresistible French cheese puffs called gougeres (goo-zhare), made gluten-free or with wheat flour. They are great with a glass of wine for cocktail hour. I make mine with lots of Parmesan cheese and finely chopped chives. If the French name is too difficult, call them what I do – Parmesan puffs. They are fun to make!
Do you remember the first time you bravely attempted a new technique or 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 in the end. A triumph. And I still love them.
For this recipe I've added Parmesan cheese and used gluten-free flour.
How to Make Pate a Choux Dough
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 Handy Little Tool: Dishers
A disher is a tool I can’t live without in my kitchen. I have 5-6 sizes of them in various sizes 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 truly bite-sized puffs, use the #60.
Flour Options: Wheat or Gluten-free
I tested three types of flour: organic white whole wheat, organic whole wheat pastry, and a gluten-free blend called Cup4Cup. All three came out great. Pastry flour is a soft wheat which contains less gluten and provides a more tender baked good. Additionally I've included a homemade GF blend in the recipe notes.
Notes For Gluten-Free Bakers
For gluten-free gougere I tested with a pre-made blend, 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 ½ cup (72 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. The gluten-free batch did not puff as much 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. Gluten-free flours based on cornstarch (as is C4C) may result in baked goods that dry out a little more quickly. That little bit of moistness is probably good. The next day, they were still perfect.
Homemade Gluten-Free Flour Blend
My homemade flour blend mixes brown rice, sweet rice, and quinoa flours plus cornstarch and tapioca. For accuracy, you will need a digital scale to blend your flours. When measuring use the tare feature, it's faster. Whisk together until well blended. I use all Bobs Red Mill flours. This makes enough for several batches of gougeres.
For another terrific cocktail nibble, try these sweet and spicy roasted maple cashews.
Gougere French Cheese Puffs
- Baking sheet
- Baking parchment
- #40 disher (looks like an ice cream scooper with a spring handle) optional or piping bag
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup gluten-free flour blend or white whole wheat flour
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese plus extra to top if desired
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
- Ready all ingredients and tools before you start as this goes quickly. Pre-heat oven to 400° for wheat flour or 350° for gluten-free flours. 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 dough pulls away from the sides of the pan, 1-2 minutes. Move the dough to a medium bowl and cool 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add eggs, one at a time to the bowl, stirring like mad after each one until completely incorporated. It will look like a slimy mess for the first minute but keep stirring. The dough will come together. Lastly 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. 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.