Gougères (snack food with the difficult name!)
It's a cheese puff with a fancy name! the exterior is crisp and the interior soft and custardy. Made small they are a great snack to serve before dinner or make them larger to be filled. Gougères are typically made with Gruyère cheese and thyme, a combination that begs to be filled with sweet orange marmalade (my personal favorite). You can substitute any hard cheese and herbs you desire in the recipe. The puff comes from the pâte à Choux, the same glorious dough that is made into éclaires and profiteroles. It is full of eggs that souflee in the oven to create a hollow shell with a tender eggy center. The addition of the cheese and herbs make this version a savory treat, but if you stop short of adding those last ingredients you can bake them, fill them with pastry cream or ice cream and have dessert. Once again I just can't resist turning everything into sweets. I came across this recipe, which I've made so often the page is falling out of the Tartine cookbook, when I was making the lemon meringue bars last week, from the same book. I think I need a trip to San Fransisco to visit the bakery again! Until then I will just bake my way through this book. Gougères from Tartine: Choux paste: 1 1/4 cup non fat milk (or water) 10 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 cup all-purpose flour 5 large eggs 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, grated 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped thyme Topping: 1 large egg, for egg wash pinch salt Grated Gruyere cheese for sprinkling Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment To make the Choux paste, combine the milk, butter and salt in a sauce pan and place over medium heat until butter melts and the mixture comes to a full boil. Add the flour all at once, stirring until the mixture has formed a smooth paste and pulls away form the sides of the pan, about 3 minutes. Transfer the paste to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed, incorporating each one completely. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding and mix each of the other eggs. When all of the eggs have been added the mixture will be thick, smooth and shiny. Remove the bowl and add the cheese, pepper and thyme, and mix in with a rubber spatula. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip about about 1/2" wide, filling it about 1/3 of the way full so it is still easy to handle. Pipe the mixture out onto the parchment, making quarter size mounds that are about 1/2" high. Leave about 1 1/2" space between the mounds. Or, you can use a spoon to drop the mounds onto the parchment, but it is harder to control the thick mixture. The mounds may have cheese poking out in odd directions. With a wet finger just pat the mound into a more uniform shape. To make the topping, whisk together the egg and salt. Brush the tops of the mounds and then sprinkle with the cheese. Place the Gougères in the preheated oven and don't open the door until they are nicely browned or they may collapse. Bake until they have puffed and are nicely browned, about 25 minutes. They are delicious served hot, warm or room temperature. They can also be frozen and reheated in the oven for 5 minutes directly from the freezer.