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These tiny puffs are based on gougere, a French choux-type pastry that's typically flavored with Gruyere cheese, baked in a large ring, and served in slices as an appetizer. Our version makes individual light-as-air puffs; serve them plain, gild the lily by filling them with tiny bits of cream cheese or chicken (ham, tuna, egg) salad, or make them into savory cheese sticks. They're a delightful appetizer, and also go well with soup or salad.
1 cup (8 ounces) water
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Pizza Dough Flavor or cheese powder (optional but ever so delicious)
Preheat your oven to 425°F. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, bring the water and butter to a boil. Whisk the flour and spices together, then add this mixture, all at once, to the boiling water. Stir vigorously over the heat until the mixture forms a ball and a light film coats the bottom of the pan; this will only take about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and place the dough in a mixing bowl.
If you have a stand mixer, use it; this dough takes a lot of beating. Beat the dough at medium speed for 2 or 3 minutes to cool it slightly, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat in the cheese and pizza flavor or cheese powder, if you're using it. Use a small (teaspoon-size) cookie scoop or a pastry bag to drop or pipe cherry-sized mounds of dough onto a baking sheet. Or for cheese sticks, fit a pastry bag with an open star tip that has about a 1/8- to 1/4-inch opening. Pipe sticks the length of your choice; long sticks to lay across a bowl of soup (about 8 inches long) are very impressive.
Bake the puffs for 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, and continue to bake for about an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the puffs are golden brown. Turn off the oven, crack open the door, and let the puffs cool in the oven slowly; they'll dry out as they cool, which is the desired outcome. If you're making sticks, bake them for a total of 14 minutes at the higher oven temperature, then turn off the oven, crack the door open, and let them cool in the oven for 5 minutes before taking them out and allowing them to cool completely on a wire rack. Store the puffs or sticks in an airtight container. If they become soft or soggy, reheat them in a preheated 400°F oven for 5 minutes. Yield: 60 small puffs.
Nutrition information per serving (1 puff, 14g): 39 cal, 3g fat, 1g protein, 2g complex carbohydrates, 22mg cholesterol, 64mg sodium, 12mg potassium, 33RE vitamin A, 24mg calcium, 24mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 2, Winter 2001 issue.