Eggs are one of the main ingredients used in baking, and so the first topic in this “Taking Up Baking” series of posts.Eggs consist of three main parts—a fragile and porous shell, the yolk, the egg white—plus membranes and chalazae, two white strands that hold the yolk in the center of the white.
Eggs carry out many functions in the baking process, including…
1. Adding flavor…Eggs add a unique taste and flavor to baked goods.
2. Emulsifying…Eggs help make batter smooth.
3. Giving a proper finish…Egg whites and egg yolks are used as washes on baked goods like croissants an anish pastries…and on rustic breads to hold sesame seeds and other accouterments in place.
4. Leavening: Eggs trap air cells in whipped eggs or egg whites… important for angel food and chiffon cakes.
5. Moistening…About 3/4’s of an egg by weight is water, so when you add eggs to batter, you add a great deal of water into the batter.
6. Providing color…Most lemon meringue pie recipes rely entirely on egg yolks for color.
7. Providing nutrition…Eggs add nutritional value such as protein, Vitamin D, and choline (an important nutrient for the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system).
8. Providing structure…As eggs cook, the protein coagulates and provides stiffness to the product.
9. Tenderizing…The fat in the egg yolk tenderizes the batter by shortening the gluten strands.
Pâte à Choux
Pâte à Choux is a light pastry dough that contains only butter, water, flour and eggs…but no “raising agent.”
Steam created by boiling the water and butter, puffs the pastry instead…and then flour and eggs are added to achieve the desired consistency.
Choux pastry, or pâte à choux, has been used as early as 1540 in many European and European-derived cuisines….such as…
Beignets, the official state doughnut of Louisiana since 1986, have been popular within New Orleans Creole cuisine ever since being brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists.These “fritters”are made from deep-fried choux pastry are traditionally prepared right before consumption, doused in powdered sugar, and eaten fresh and hot. Today beignets from the Café du Monde, along with their coffee with chicory and café au lait, are quite famous…and here’s a copycat recipe worth sharing…
Paula Deen’s French Quarter Beignets…1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 envelope active dry yeast, 2 eggs, slightly beaten, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1 cup evaporated milk, 7 cups bread flour, 1/4 cup shortening, Nonstick spray, Oil, for deep-frying, 3 cups confectioners’ sugarMix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Beat eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture. Add the shortening, and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl. Place onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours. Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F. Add the confectioners’ sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside. Roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thickness and cut into 1″ squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners’ sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.
Chicken and Dumplings is perhaps one of the most familiar Southern comfort foods. Chicken and Dumplings is a staple main dish recipe in many Southern kitchens because the dish is delicious, satisfying, economical, and easy.Yet many people find the dumplings to be dough-y, thick, strangely flavourless un-cooked balls of dough.Instead of the traditional dumplings, here is a recipe for Chicken and Dumplings using the cream puff dough that we have been discussing lately, known as pâte à choux, mixed with plenty of fresh herbs.
1. Making the Dumplings…Combine 1C milk or water, 4oz butter, 1tsp salt in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil.Add 1C flour.Reduce the heat to medium, stirring rapidly to make a thick paste. Cook the dough 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the dough to a stand mixer.Add 3 eggs, 1Tbsp Dijon mustard, 2Tbsp parsley, ½C Swiss or parmesan cheese, 1Tbsp minced tarragon, 1Tbsp minced chives.Wait 30min.
2. Making the Broth..Cook one diced onion, 2 large diced carrots, 2 diced celery ribs, in 3Tbsp butter over medium heat until translucent. Add one quart chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Add 1tsp salt, 1 bay leaf, 1Tbsp tomato paste, pepper, lemon juice, 1/2tsp honey, 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of thyme, 1 small garlic clove, 1/2tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2Tbsp parsley.Reduce the heat. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.Add one quart chicken stock.Simmer for 30 minutes., then strain the soup base into another pot and discard the vegetables.
4. Cooking the Chicken…Roast boneless skinless chicken thighs in a very hot oven for 20min.
5. Cooking the Dumplings…Fill a medium sized pot with salted water. Bring to a simmer.Fill a quart-sized Ziploc bag with the dough.Cut off one corner of the bag to make a quarter-sized opening.Pipe 1” of the mixture. Cut with kitchen shears directly over the broth. The dumplings will sink to the bottom of the pot and then float to the top. Once the dumplings rise to the surface, cook an additional 10 minutes to ensure that they are cooked.
Note…The dumplings can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated, or frozen. In this case, scoop them from the poaching water with a slotted spoon and let cool on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet.
6. Making the Soup…Turn off the heat. Add the meat. Wait a couple of minutes before serving.
Another pastry made with choux dough is the classic eclair.
The éclair, originally called “pain à la Duchesse”or “petite duchesse,” were first made by Antonin Carême, the famous French chef, around 1850. The first known English-language recipe for éclairs appears in the Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln, published in 1884.Eventually the pastries came to be known as éclairs…the French word meaning ‘flash of lightning’…because the eclair is supposedly eaten quickly, or “in a flash.”The classic eclair consists of a crispy golden shell of pâte à choux, a rich pudding-like filling of vanilla pastry cream, and a chocolate ganache glaze on top..And a batch of eclairs takes about the same amount of time to make as required to make a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls. So let’s “Take Up Baking”…
1. Making the Eclair Shells…The ingredients in pâte à choux are simple–merely milk, water, eggs, butter, flour, sugar, and salt…but actually making the pâte à choux and the eclair shells is probably the most intimidating piece of the puzzle.
2. Starting the choux dough on top of the stove…Bring 1C water, 8Tbsp butter, 1/2tsp salt, 1-1/2tsp sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Using a spoon instead of a whisk or fork will keep the flour from getting stuck in the tines.Return to the heat. Cook, stirring constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball… about 2 minutes. At this point, move the dough from the stove to the mixing bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Controlling the amount of air that gets worked into pâte à choux dough is crucial…because too much air will make the shells either crack in the oven or explode and collapse. Using a paddle attachment and mixing at a slow speed will keep both the amount of air in the eggs and the amount of air in the choux at a minimum.
3. Finishing the choux dough in the mixer…Beat on low speed one minute.Add three eggs, one by one, making sure each egg is completely emulsified before adding the next. As you add the egg, the dough will at first break apart, but as you continue to beat it will come back together.Continue to mix until you have a smooth, glossy, thick paste-like dough…and the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the fourth remaining egg.It is important that you only add as much egg as the dough will hold. If you add too many eggs, you will have trouble piping the dough, and the pastries will have trouble puffing and drying out in the oven.If the dough is ready, it will look soft, creamy-colored, and very smooth…and will leave behind a little “V” of dough on the spatula if you scoop up a little bit with your spatula and let it slide back into the bowl.Spread the mixture onto a sheet pan and cover with Saran Wrap until cooled to room temperature.
4. Piping the Shells…Draw a dozen 3-1/2″ lines on a piece of parchment paper, spacing the lines about 3″ apart. This will serve as a template or guide.Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the template under the parchment paper.Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip.Pipe eight to twelve oblong lengths of dough, about the size and shape of a jumbo hot dog, onto the lined baking sheet using the template as a guide.Whisk an egg and water together in a bowlto create an egg wash. Brush the surface of each eclair with the egg wash. This gives the pastry a lovely golden brown sheen and allows you to smoothe out any imperfections on the surface of the pastry.
5. Baking the Shells…Preheat oven to 475. Bake 15 minutes. Starting the baking process at a very high heat allows the steam from the butter and eggs in the dough to expand very quickly, which creates the space for the filling, the most important thing about an éclair.Remove shells from oven. Let cool to room temperatureReduce the oven temperature to 350.Bake shells 15 more minutes. Baking the éclair shells this second time dries out the choux and makes the shells extra firm and crispy.The shells are ready once they are a nice light golden brown color and are almost dry inside when splitRemove from oven. Place on a wire rack to cool.Poke each of the shells with a toothpick to release any steam trapped inside.Let them cool completely before filling them.
6. Making the Filling …Eclairs may now be filled with chiboust cream…chocolate, coffee, pistachio, rum, or vanilla custard…fruit-flavoured filling…lemon curd…pastry cream..or whipped cream.
Eclair Filling…Heat 2C milk and 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat. Set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. Whisk six egg yolks and 2/3C sugar until light and fluffy. Add 1/4C cornstarch. Whisk in 1/4C of the hot milk mixture vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until milk starts to foam up. Remove from heat. Stir in 1Tbsp cold unsalted butter.
For a chocolate pastry cream, simply stir two ounces of finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate into the hot pastry cream.
For a mocha flavor add 1 1/2tsp instant coffee or espresso powder.
Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
Cool to room temperature or refrigerate up to 24 hours.
7. Filling the Eclair Shells…Split the pastry shells in half, lengthwise. Place pastry cream into a piping bag. Fit the piping bag with a medium-size plain tip. Pipe filling into each eclair shell. Use just enough filling to fill the inside…Don’t stuff them full.
8. Making the Glaze…The final step is to ice or glaze the eclairs with vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, or chocolate glaze. Caramel-glazed eclairs are often referred to as bâton de Jacob.
Chocolate Glaze…Heat 1/2C heavy cream over medium heat just until it boils. Immediately pour it over 4oz coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate. Stir in 1tsp vanilla extract. Whisk until melted and smooth. Cover.Glaze can be made up and stored in the refrigerator up to 48 hours in advance. Rewarm in a microwave or over hot water when ready to use.
Dip the top halves of the eclair shells in the warm glaze, letting the excess drip off. Place on a wire rack to dry for ten minutes.
9. Assembling the Eclairs…Once the glaze is dry, gently place the top half of the pastry shell on the cream. Spread icing over the top of each. Let sit for about 5-10 , until the icing hardens, before serving.Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze. Serve chilled.
Finished eclairs can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days…if they last that long…
Churros are another type of pastry made from choux pastry…but in the case of Churros, the choux pastry is fried, instead of baked.
The churro was first made by Spanish shepherds, because the churros were easy to make and cook over an open fire in the mountains, where the shepherds spend most of their time.Today churros are standard “street fare” in American theme parks, street fairs, carnivals, and other celebrations.Churros are crunchy, fried pastry sprinkled with sugar and then dipped in a thick hot chocolate sauce.
Churros (Yield: About 18 6″ churros)
1. Make the dough…2C wate, 3Tbsp butter, 2Tbsp sugar, 1tsp vanilla , 1/2tsp salt, 2C flour, 2 large eggs…Heat water, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium-size saucepan until simmering and butter has melted. Remove from heat. Dump in flour all at once. Mix vigorously with a spoon until the mixture forms a smooth ball and no floury bits are visible.Let cool 5 to 10 minutes.Add eggs, one at a time. Choux dough can be made and kept in bowl for up to a day before using, but it will be easier to pipe when it’s still warm.
2. Pipe the churros..Transfer churro dough to a cloth pastry bag fitted with a #8 large closed star pastry tip. (This pastry tip is what gives the churros the expected textured lines.)Be sure to use a cloth or heavy-duty plastic pastry bag,. A regular resealable plastic bag is not thick enough and will split open if you try to pipe the churro dough through it.
Pipe the churros in 6″ directly into a pot of boiling water…or onto cookie sheets.If piping onto a cookie sheet, place the tray of shaped churros into the fridge for at least 15 minutes before frying them.
3. Fry the churros…Heat oven to 200 degrees to keep churros warm while you fry them in batches.Line a large plate with a couple layers of paper towels. Add 1-1/2″ oil to Dutch oven. Heat oil over medium/medium-high heat to 375.Pipe two to three churros into the oil at a time. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut the dough.Fry 6 minutes, turning frequently, until they turn deep golden brown on all sides.Remove from oil. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate to drain for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.
Repeat with remaining dough.
4. Coat the churros…2/3C sugar, 1-1/4tsp cinnamon Once all churros are fried, combine cinnamon and sugar on a plate. Roll warm churros, one by one.Churros can be kept warm in oven before coating with cinnamon sugar for up to an hour before getting dry.
5. Make the sauce: Make the chocolate sauce right before you’re ready to serve it with the churros because it will thicken as it cools….3/4C heavy cream, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, Pinch salt…Heat cream, chocolate chips, and salt in a bowl in microwave in 30 second bursts, whisking between them, until chocolate has melted.Dip warm churros in warm chocolate sauce.Enjoy!
Chouquettes are a type of cream puff consisting of a small round, hollow portion of choux pastry covered with crunchy nuggets of large-grain pearl sugar … baked until golden brown…and sometimes filled with custard or mousse, dipped in chocolate, or covered in chocolate chips.The pearl sugar is the key ingredient in chouquettes and gives the puffs their signature crunch. Swedish Pearl Sugar is available online at King Arthur Flour at a cost of $6.95 per 12oz.Pearl sugar is a bright-white, irregular chunky sugar that won’t melt or burn when added to the top of Panettone, sweet breads, iced cookies, and cakes.Crushed sugar cubes may also be used instead as a last resortChocolate chips may also be pressed into a few of the puffs before baking.
Chouquettes (Sugar-Topped Pastry Puffs…1-1/2C water, 1 stick + 1Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes, 1tsp sugar, 1/2tsp salt, 1 1/2C flou, 7 large eggsPearl sugar
Prep…Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.Combine the water, butter, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.Beat 7 eggs. Add to the dough in four batches, stirring vigorously between additions until the eggs are completely incorporated and the dough is glossy.Transfer dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2″ plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2″ mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1″ between them. Generously sprinkle each mound with 1/2tsp pearl sugar. Bake 30min.The baked choux can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days and rewarded in a 325° oven for 10 minutes.
Chouquettes are a type of cream puff consisting of a small round, hollow portion of choux pastry covered with crunchy nuggets of large-grain pearl sugar … baked until golden brown…and sometimes filled with custard or mousse, dipped in chocolate, or covered in chocolate chips.The pearl sugar is the key ingredient in chouquettes and gives the puffs their signature crunch. Swedish Pearl Sugar is available online at King Arthur Flour at a cost of $6.95 per 12ozPearl sugar is a bright-white, irregular chunky sugar that won’t melt or burn when added to the top of Panettone, sweet breads, iced cookies, and cakes.Crushed sugar cubes may also be used instead as a last resort.Chocolate chips may also be pressed into a few of the puffs before baking.
Chouquettes (Sugar-Topped Pastry Puffs)
1-1/2C water, 1 stick + 1Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes, 1tsp sugar, 1/2tsp salt, 1 1/2C flou, 7 large eggsPearl sugar
Prep…Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.Combine the water, butter, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.Beat 7 eggs. Add to the dough in four batches, stirring vigorously between additions until the eggs are completely incorporated and the dough is glossy.Transfer dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2″ plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2″ mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1″ between them. Generously sprinkle each mound with 1/2tsp pearl sugar. Bake 30min.
The baked choux can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days and rewarded in a 325° oven for 10 minutes.
Learning the basic techniques behind good cooking, such as how to make a good pâte à choux, is far more important than mastering a specific recipe.
As shown in recent posts, this dough can be piped into decorative logs and filled with pastry cream to make eclairs…sandwiched with dollops of chantilly or ice cream to make cream puffs or profiteroles…deep-fried to make light and puffy beignets…or mixed with herbs and cheese and baked for savory gougères.
Regardless of what you are making, the basic technique behind making pâte à choux remains the same…
First, boil water and butter in a saucepan…then dump in flour all at once and stir it vigorously with a wooden spoon until a smooth ball of dough forms. Finish making the dough by adding eggs and beating the dough until creating a sticky, paste-like dough that holds itself together just well enough to be piped from a piping bag.
Today we will be talking about Parisian gnocchi.
Parisian-style gnocchi are very different than the traditional Italian potato version and actually easier to prepare.
Parisian-style gnocchi are made by piping the pâte à choux directly into boiling water, cooking until they rise to the surface, and finally searing them lightly to create texture.
Parisian Gnocch… 1tsp salt, 1⁄4tsp nutmeg, 3 Tbsp butter, 1C flour, 3 large eggs, 1⁄4 cup freshly grated parmesan, gruyere, or asiago cheese
1. Making the Dough…Combine water, salt, nutmeg, and 2Tbsp of the butter in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Add flour all at once. Beat dough with wooden spoon until thick. Cook, stirring to dry out dough, about 30 seconds.Beat 1 egg into dough until incorporated. Beat in 1/4 cup cheese and another egg until blended. Beat in last egg until dough is smooth and shiny. At this point you may also add chopped fresh herbs–chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon-for a more savoury version.Gnocchi dough can be refrigerated overnight before boiling and baking.
2. Cooking the Gnocchi…Transfer dough to medium bowl. Let cool 5 minutes.Bring large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Set bowl of ice water near stove.Transfer dough to large pastry bag.Reduce boiling water to gentle simmer. Hold bag over water with one hand. Squeeze out dough into the water, using a small sharp knife to cut it into 1-1/2″ lengths.Simmer gnocchi 3 minutes. Drop cooked gnocchi into nearby bowl of ice water. Drain on paper towel-lined baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil. Allow to cool.Cooked gnocchi can be transferred to a sealed container and stored in the refrigerator for up to a few days until you’re ready to fry or broil them just before serving.
3. Finishing the Gnocchi…The next step and the toppings for the gnocchi now are totally a matter of personal choice. you may bake them, broil them, or Sauteeing them in butter.
Baking…Grease 9×13 baking dish with 1Tbsp butter. Scoop gnocchi into the dish.Top with 2Tbsp cheese. Bake 25 minutes.
Broiling…Preheat broiler. Broil gnocchi 6″ from heat for 1 to 2 minutes. …
Searing…Add gnocchi to aa very hot skillet. Add just enough butter to cover them. Top with finely grated Parmesan cheese. Cook over high heat for thirty seconds. Be careful not to agitate them too much when searing. As they heat, they get even more tender.
Sautéeing…Sautée gnocchi with butter, lemon, and fresh parsley.
The gnocchi can now be used as a blank palate for any number of seasonally-based pasta dishes….just like any other type of pasta.
As most other treats made with choux dough-croquembouches, éclairs, French crullers, beignets, St. Honoré cake, quenelles, Parisian gnocchi, dumplings, gougères, chouquettes and craquelins-making profiterole requires that you first prepare the choux pastry dough.Next you either pipe the dough through a pastry bag and bake to form hollow puffs, or drop the dough into small balls into boiling water to cook.
Profiterole are typically filled with a typically sweet and moist filling, such as whipped cream, custard, pastry cream, or ice cream….but may also be served as savory items by filling the shells with pureed meats and cheese.Profiterole then may be left plain or garnished with chocolate ganache, caramel glaze, or a dusting of powdered sugar. Profiterole are the building blocks for both croquembouches and the outer wall of St. Honoré Cake.
1. Prep…Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a pastry bag with a 1/2″ plain round tip. Line two rimmed baking sheets with baking parchment.
2. Make the Dough…1C milk, 1/4tsp salt, 1C water, 8Tbsp butter, 5 eggs, Pinch cinnamon…Bring the milk, butter, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk together the flour and salt. Once the butter melts, reduce the heat. Add the flour mixture to the saucepan all at once. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Let cool for 4 minutes. The mixture does not have to be cold, just cool enough not to cook the eggs when added. Add the eggs. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cinnamon.
3. Piping the Dough…Spoon the dough into the pastry bag. Pipe into 18 puffs, each 1-1/2″ wide x 1 ” high onto the baking sheet, spacing at least 1″ between each. Dip your finger in water and smooth the top of each ball where the pastry bag released the dough.
Note…The dough can be frozen at this point on the tray then collected into freezer bags and sealed.
4. Baking the Profiterole …Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, rotating the tray halfway through the cooking time to insure even cooking. Turn off the oven. Allow them to sit in the oven for another 10 minutes.When done, the puffs should be light, airy and dry inside…and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Make a small slit in the side of each puff to allow the steam to escape. Set on a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before icing.
5. Making the Chocolate Sauce..1/2C heavy cream, 12oz semisweet chocolate chips, 2Tbsp honey, 2Tbsp prepared coffee…Bring a saucepan with 1″ of water to a boil. Place the cream and chocolate chips in a metal or heatproof glass mixing bowl. Place the bowl on top of the saucepan with boiling water, being careful that the mixing bowl does not actually touch the surface of the boiling water. Stir just until the chocolate melts and everything is combined. Add the honey and coffee. Stir until smooth. Remove bowl from heat once the chocolate has melted.
6. Serving the profiterole…Cut each profiterole in half horizontally. Fill each with a small scoop of high-quality vanilla ice cream. Replace the top. Drizzle with warm chocolate sauce.
Gougères are another pastry made from the classic French pâte à choux.These baked savory pastries are made with a generous amount of grated Gruyère, Comté, or Emmentaler cheese folded into the dough before baking. They are said to have come from Burgundy, particularly the town of Tonnerre in the Yonne department, where they are generally served cold when tasting wine in cellars.Earlier forms of gougères were more a stew than a pastry, including herbs, bacon, eggs, cheese, spices, and meat mixed with an animal’s blood, and prepared in a sheep’s stomach. In medieval France, gougères we’re a kind of cheese tart or pie. Later, gougères were unknown outside what is now Belgium, and became associated with Palm Sunday.Gougères can be served as an alternative to dinner rolls, offered as an appetizer, or stuffed with deli meat to make sandwiches.Gougères are loved by everyone, including children…can be made weeks in advance or an hour before you need them…are transformed easily by using different cheeses, herbs and spices…and are made from everyday items you most likely have on hand at all timesDrier cheeses— Parmesan, Asiago, or Manchego—make better gougères because there is less moisture to drive out during baking, and they puff just a little bit better in the oven, making for crispier gougères.
Cheese Gougères…1C water, 8Tbsp butter, 1/2tsp salt, 1/2tsp mustard, 1C flour, 4 eggs, 1 1/2C grated cheese
1. Preparing to Bake…Preheat oven to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
2. Making the Dough…Place the water, butter, salt, and mustard in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring to melt the butter. Cook until the butter melts.
Remove the pan from heat. Add the flour. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and resembles mashed potatoes.
Return the pan to medium-low heat. Cook 5 minutes to dry out the dough. The dough is ready when it is thick enough to hold a spoon upright and a film of starch forms on the bottom of the pan. If the batter is too loose when you begin incorporating the eggs, the dough will not puff properly come baking time.Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.Allow the dough to cool for two minutes. Add the eggs, one a time, fully incorporating each one before adding another. Scrape down the bowl each time and check the consistency of the paste. It should be stiff enough to stand, but soft enough to spread. Add the cheese.
3. Piping the Gougères…Gougères can be made any size…smaller ones are great as appetizers… larger ones can be used to make sandwiches.Drop dough onto the baking sheets, using an ice cream scoop, two spoons, or piping bag fitted with a wide round tip.Be sure to leave an inch of space around all sides of your gougères to keep them from sticking together.
4. Baking the Gougres…Bake 5 minutes.Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake 25 more minutes.
Turn off the heat. Allow the pastry to stand in the closed oven for 15 minutes so the insides can thoroughly dry out. Transfer the baking sheets to a cooling rack. Finished gougères will be deep golden-brown, and will feel light and hollow when picked up.Serve warm or at room temperature.Gougères may be baked up to three hours in advance and reheated in a 350 degrees oven for five minutes just before serving. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days or frozen for up to three months. Re-crisp in a warm oven before serving.