Nothing beats these little puffs! Whenever I serve them, they are gone in seconds!

Cheese Puffs

Cheese puffs, also known by the more sophisticated moniker of gougères, are a delightful French snack hailing from the Burgundy region. Traditionally, they are made using pâte à choux, the same basic dough that forms the foundation of cream puffs and éclairs. These airy, savory morsels are perfect for anyone looking to add a touch of elegance to a cocktail party or to simply enjoy a luxurious snack at home. The addition of cheese, typically gruyère, adds a depth of flavor that makes these puffs irresistible. Due to their impressive yet straightforward preparation, creating cheese puffs from scratch allows the home cook to explore the art of French baking with confidence.

While cheese puffs are decadent enough to stand alone, they can make an excellent accompaniment to a light salad, particularly one with a vinaigrette dressing that can cut through the richness. A crisp white wine, such as a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc, complements their buttery texture and complex cheese flavor. If serving at a gathering, consider a platter with an assortment of olives, cured meats, and fruit preserves to balance the palette.

Ingredients

  • – 1 cup water
  • – 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • – 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • – 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • – 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • – 1 cup grated gruyère cheese
  • – 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (optional)
  • – 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • – Extra grated cheese for topping

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  • 2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil over medium heat. Make sure the butter is fully melted.
  • 3. Add the flour and salt to the boiling mixture all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a dough forms and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes to dry out the dough slightly.
  • 4. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and let it cool for a few minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, ensuring each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  • 5. Fold in the grated gruyère cheese, thyme (if using), and ground pepper until well combined.
  • 6. Using two spoons or a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip, drop tablespoon-sized mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
  • 7. Sprinkle additional cheese on the top of each puff.
  • 8. Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown and feel light for their size.
  • 9. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature for the best flavor and texture.

Variations & Tips

  • – For a sharper taste, substitute half of the gruyère with aged cheddar or add a touch of Dijon mustard to the dough.
  • – To ensure a light puff, try to incorporate as much air as possible when beating in the eggs. The dough should be smooth and glossy.
  • – You can freeze the shaped dough mounds on a baking sheet, then store them in a freezer bag once solid. Bake them from frozen, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time—there’s no need to thaw.
  • – Leftover cheese puffs can be revived in a warm oven for a few minutes before serving to bring back their crispy exterior.

By following these steps, even those new to French cuisine can enjoy the indulgence of homemade cheese puffs. Bon appétit!