Basic Pate a Choux and Gougeres (Cheese Puffs)

November 25, 2011 § 10 Comments

I hope everyone had a delicious Thanksgiving! We sure did. Ate all day long! I didn’t roast a turkey for Thanksgiving this year but 2 smaller standing rib roast. I actually roasted a turkey earlier in the week just for eating, which turned out great because we snacked on leftover turkey and I didn’t have to worry about making lunch and dinner while planning Thanksgiving dinner. So it was actually an eating fest the day of since we had turkey and gravy for lunch and then a large rib roast dinner. One of the items I made for Thanksgiving were gougeres (cheese puffs) made from a basic pate a choux dough.

OMG, I love these little delectables! Originally I was planning to make yorkshire pudding for Thanksgiving dinner. But after reading  Steamy Kitchen‘s post as to how easy it was to make the basic pâte à choux dough, I said to myself, “Self, what the hey, let’s live it up”. Okay, it’s not like yorkshire pudding wasn’t living it up but I wanted something that was quick and easy that didn’t take too much time. Okay okay, yorkshire pudding is pretty easy and quick too. So in reality, it was really just a reason to try this recipe and if it didn’t work, I’ll make the pudding. And how can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

Anyway, this year was all about how many dishes I can make ahead of time. Turns out to be quite a lot but that will have to be another post. The pate a choux fit somewhat into that since I can make the dough ahead of time. But then as Michael Ruhlman stated, it only takes about 5 minutes. So am I really cutting out that much time? Well, maybe not time but certainly a few steps on the day of.

Jaden’s recipe was adapted from Michael Ruhlman.  Okay, so I’m one of those who thinks making homemade pie crust is fairly easy but I am totally serious when I say this recipe is easy. Heck, I think even my SIL can make these without too much fuss.Probably the easiest pastry-bread-dough-baking item-whatever recipe I’ve ever made. I decided to make gougeres (pronounces something like goo-zhairs), which is basically the addition of cheese. If you want to sound all snooty, say gougeres. If you want to sound, well, bourgeois, then you can say cheese puffs. I prefer “cheesy poofs.”

Anyway…since both Jaden and Ruhlman have lots of pictures and even a video on how to make these, I’ll keep mine to a minimum, mostly just my commentary about my experience.

I used a piping tip, about a 1/2 inch but the tip opening was a little small and since my dough was a little stiff (that’s what she said), piping took a little more effort. By the end of piping, my hands were a little tired. I also used various movements when piping. As you can see in the picture above, those were made using a swirling motion. Not that big of a deal and actually turned out kind of pretty, if you like them to look like shells of sorts. You can see in the picture below. The bottom left was piped straight from top while the one to the right of it was a swirl. Then there’s the weird looking one behind that with a funky little cap to the side. But no matter what they looked like, they were delicious!

I made these actually early in the day so we can munch on them throughout the day. I added about 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese but a 1/2 cup would have been even better. These were so light and just a hint of parmesan flavor. We ate about half of them as snacks and I put the rest in an airtight container. By the time dinner was ready, these had gotten just a little soft so I popped them into the toaster oven for a couple of minutes. It worked well for the outside but the inside wasn’t as fresh as earlier in the day, but they were still good. I think leaving them out might have been better but I’ll try that next time.

I’m going to make these again as profiteroles. As soon as I get some good pistachio ice cream.

Basic Pate a Choux and Cheese Puffs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup eggs (approx. 4 large eggs)
  1. Preheat oven 425F.
  2. In a medium pot, bring the water and butter to a simmer on medium heat. Add the flour and with a wooden spoon or spatula, stir very quickly in one direction. Carefully watch and you’ll see that the flour starts absorbing the liquid — and a dough will form. Keep stirring to continue cooking the flour and cook off some of the water, another minute or two.
  3. You can do the next step one of two ways. I used a hand mixer, which made things very easy.
  4. Transfer the paste to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or to a bowl if you’re using a hand mixer.
  5. If you want to mix the eggs directly into the dough in the pot, let it cool slightly, 4 or 5 minutes, or cool off the pan itself by running cold water over its base if you will be mixing the eggs in that pot. You don’t want to cook the eggs too quickly.
  6. Add the salt, then the eggs one at a time mixing rapidly until each is combined into the paste. The paste will go from shiny to slippery to sticky as the egg is incorporated. The pâte a choux can be cooked immediately at this point or refrigerated for up to a day until ready to use.
  7. Spoon the dough into a large gallon-sized plastic bag (or piping bag.) Use your hands to squeeze dough towards the bottom corner. With kitchen shears, snip off just the tippy tip of the bag, about 1/4″ of the tip. Pipe onto a baking sheet into little puffs, keeping the puffs 2-inches apart. Wet the tip of your finger and press down the peaks (as they can burn).
  8. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then 350F for 18-30 minutes, depending on the size of your puffs. Mine were about 1 1/2 inches and took about 30 minutes.
  9. To make gougeres (cheese puffs): Stir in 1/2 cup finely grated hard cheese of your choice (gruyere, parmesan, etc.) + 1 teaspoon kosher/sea salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine table salt) – use rasp/microplane grater to get ultra-light pieces of cheese so as not to weigh down the dough. You can also sprinkle a bit of the cheese on top of the puffs after you’ve piped them.


§ 10 Responses to Basic Pate a Choux and Gougeres (Cheese Puffs)

  • Kirk says:

    Hey CAB – I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. This looks wonderful.

  • Mike says:

    Those look like they turned out great! I made some for the first time about a month ago, and I’m definitely going to make them again.

  • Haha! Loved the video snippet! We actually say that to TC when she asks for dessert. We’re so wierd, eh.

    I love your cooking/baking skills. I bow down to you…

    Sounds like your Turkey Day was fun and filled with good eats!

    • CAB says:

      Hi CC! You know I’ve never actually seen the movie?

      Whoa, you give me way too much credit on the skills thing. As Dirty Harry would say, “A man gots to know his limitations.” So I just work within my limitations. hehe.

  • Darlene says:

    Oh my! I haven’t had these in a while. And with cheese too! I remember hearing that if you make tiny little slit in them when they’re cool, they won’t deflate and keep longer.

    And I agree. Roasting a turkey days BEFORE Thanksgiving is the way to go. They’re best for sandwiches and snacking and takes the whole stress of cooking a bird on Thanksgiving out of the equation.

    • CAB says:

      Hi Darlene! The choux didn’t deflate but it did kind of lost some of it’s “freshness” for a lack of better word. I actually like turkey the day after since I think it tastes better so it worked out great.

  • Mary says:

    Okay. I totally want to make cheesy poufs now. Glad to hear you had a lovely Thanksgiving! 🙂

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