The irresistible French cheese puffs called gougeres (goo-zhare). 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 – Parmesan puffs. Easy to make, but impressive – Parmesan Gougeres Cheese Puffs.
Making Choux (Shoo) Pastry or Pate a Choux
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.
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.
Dishers – A Handy Little Tool
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.
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.
Note – Since this post published, I have come up with my own GF blend. See notes below. That is what I now use. The blend is below. There are also many more gluten-free flours blends no on the market, including Jovial’s new GF blends, which are really nice.
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 1/2 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 these days, as does Jovial, which I mentioned above. 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. My friend and gluten-free baking expert, Dr. Jean Layton, told me that g-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.
New Flour Blend for Gluten-Free Bakers
As many of the pre-made blends use sorghum flour (and I have eliminated that as well as gluten), I now bake gougere 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.
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.
Parmesan Gougeres Cheese Puffs
- 2 ounces unsalted butter 57 grams
- 1/2 cup low fat milk 120 ml
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour 65 grams SEE GF OPTION BElOW
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese plus extra to top if desired
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
- 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, 1-2 minutes. Remove the pastry to a medium bowl and cool 2 minutes, stirring occasionally (so the eggs do not scramble)
- Add eggs, one at a time, stirring like mad after each one until completely incorporated. It will look like a slimy mess for the first minute, but it will come together. Keep stirring. The pastry 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 (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.