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Classic Gougères

Gougères
Produced in both France and Switzerland, Gruyère is a cow's milk cheese with a subtle, nutty flavor. It shreds easily and melts beautifully, making it excellent for cooking, and is a superlative table cheese. Swiss Gruyère is one of the traditional cheeses used in fondue. The French version of this cheese, also called Gruyère de Comté, or simply Comté, is aged longer than Swiss Gruyère. Hence, it has a deeper flavor that is preferred for gougères and other French dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into
     small pieces
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1⁄8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄4 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 3⁄4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 3⁄4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tsp. milk

Directions:

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of an oven and preheat to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, butter, sea salt, cayenne and paprika. Bring to a boil and cook until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and quickly add the flour all at once, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until completely blended. Place the pan over medium-high heat and beat until the mixture forms a mass in the center of the pan and the pan bottom begins to be coated with the cooked mixture, 1 to 2 minutes; do not heat the mixture above lukewarm.

Remove from the heat and use the spoon to make a well in the center of the mixture. Immediately add 1 of the eggs and beat with the spoon until completely blended, then beat in 3 more of the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the Gruyère and one-third of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese until melted and thoroughly blended.

To form the gougères, spoon the paste into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip 1⁄2 inch in diameter. (If you don't have a pastry bag and tip, use a teaspoon.) Pipe mounds of the paste about 1 inch in diameter and 1⁄2 inch high onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the mounds 2 inches apart.

In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with the milk. Brush the gougères with the egg mixture, taking care not to mash them down, and sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the tops. Place the sheets on the racks in the oven and bake until the gougères are lightly browned and doubled in size, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a small slit in the side of each gougère. Return the sheets to the oven for 5 minutes to partially dry out the inside of the puffs. Transfer the gougères to wire racks. Serve warm or at room temperature, piled into a large bowl or passed on trays.
Makes about 36 gougères.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Christmas, by Carolyn Miller (Simon & Schuster, 2003).