Gougères

March 4, 2009

Wine is bottled poetry.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Gougères, those airy, delicate cheese puffs made from pâte à choux, conjure up images of that ever so serene Burgundy: the dappled, multihued roof tiles of the Hôtel Dieu in Beaune, the cobbled courtyards in the alluring villages, the seemingly endless underground wine caves, the Route des Vins Mâconnais-Beaujolais coursing through meticulously rowed vineyards, the barges on canals and marvelous rivers Saône, Seille and Loire…not to mention being home to the Rolls Royce of chickens (les poulets de Bresse), coq au vin, escargots, and boeuf bourguignon. Burgundy is a land as velvety and sensual as its wines.

Gougères are often served as a snack or hors d’oeuvre, and they remain incomparable bedmates for a wine tasting.

GOUGERES

1 C water
8 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Pinch of sea salt
1 C all purpose flour
4 large local, free range, organic eggs, room temperature
1 C grated Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F

Butter and lightly flour 2 baking sheets, shaking off the excess. In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the water, butter and salt and heat over medium high heat. Whisk occasionally, then once the mixture boils immediately remove from heat. Add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms and the mixture comes away from the sides of the saucepan; return to low heat and continue beating until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about 1-2 minutes.

Scrape the dough into a bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a flat paddle. Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. It is important to make sure that each egg is incorporated into the batter before adding the next. While still beating, add 1/2 of the cheese. The dough should be well aerated and ultimately have the consistency of very thick mayonnaise.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe into 2 inch mounds onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. If the gougères are too close to each other, they will stick together when inflating. If you do not have a true pastry bag, you can substitute a large ziploc bag which has one corner snipped off at the bottom.

Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffy and golden brown. While cooking, avoid opening the oven door, as humidity will escape and dry out the gougères. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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