Tasty Herb & Cheese Puffs

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Tasty Herb & Cheese Puffs

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Published prior to 2008

Light in texture, big in flavor, these puffs were an instant winner among our taste-testers -- the Baker's Catalogue customer service reps, those friendly people you talk to when you call to place an order. This "captive audience" of tasters are food lovers in general, and many are dedicated bakers, as well. They're often a tough audience to please, as we've discovered time and time again.

There's a table where we set all of the things that come out of the test kitchen, and we can usually gauge how well something's gone over by how quickly it disappears. The CSR's are busy fielding phone calls, but when something particularly good appears on the table, somehow the word gets around. The phones are ringing, calls are being fielded, but between calls we'll see a CSR make a quick dash to the table for a sample of the latest goodie. On the other hand, if what we've made is a flop, it'll very likely sit there all day, virtually untouched. This is called non-verbal communication, and it works very well here in our busy office. After all, your mouth can do the talking in more ways than one!

Sue Gray, our chief baker, created these puffs when she had an assortment of fresh herbs on hand. A beautiful green-gold, they're particularly attractive if you pipe them from a cookie press or pastry tube, using the star tip. Serve these bite-sized puffs hot, with drinks; they're a wonderful hors d'oeuvre, a great start to a summer meal on the porch. Note: They may be made ahead, then briefly reheated to crisp, just before serving.

1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 large eggs
chopped leaves of 1 stalk fresh rosemary (about 2 tablespoons, packed)
10 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley (loosely packed), chopped
1 tablespoon King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Gruyere or sharp Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

In a heavy saucepan bring the water, butter and salt to a boil. Add the 1 cup of flour all at once and stir with a spoon until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove the pan from heat, and beat until the mixture cools slightly. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Mix the chopped herbs with 1 tablespoon of flour, and add them to the batter. Beat in the grated cheese and black pepper.

Drop the batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2 to 2 inches between each, or place it in a pastry bag or cookie press and pipe it through a large star tip. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment, or grease them lightly. Bake the puffs for 25 minutes, or until they're puffed, golden and crisp.

Remove the puffs from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool slightly; serve warm. If the puffs don't seem crisp enough, put them back in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn the oven off, leaving the puffs inside till you're ready to serve them. Yield: about forty 2-inch puffs.

Nutrition information per serving (4 puffs, 78g): 200 cal, 14.5g fat, 6g protein, 10g complex carbohydrates, 121mg cholesterol, 201mg sodium, 66mg potassium, 159RE vitamin A, 2mg vitamin C, 1mg iron, 124mg calcium, 100mg phosphorus.