Gougères

Gougéres are cheese choux pastry puffs, traditionally served in Burgundy with a glass of Beaujolais. A youngish wine with lots of acidity is most appropriate, not that nouveau stuff which tastes of bubble gum, but a decent cru like a Brouilly, Fleurie or Chiroubles. In southern Burgundy they serve gougères between the main course and the pudding instead of a cheese course. Although the choux can be cooked as one large ring in a mould, it is more usual to have individual puffs, which may be served filled or unfilled. Both are nice, but filled with a Gruyère-enriched béchamel is best of all.

Ingredients

  • salt
  • 100 g/ oz butter, plus more for greasing
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 140 g/ 5 oz flour
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 200 g/ 7 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 600 ml/ 1 pt thick béchamel sauce

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7. In a saucepan, bring to the boil 250 ml/ 8 fl oz lightly salted water with the butter and freshly grated nutmeg to taste.

Remove from the heat and immediately beat in the flour, until the mixture forms a ball which pulls away easily from the pan. Return to a low heat and continue to beat for 2 minutes.

Off the heat, beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, to produce a glossy, elastic dough, then stir in 85 g/ 3 oz of the grated Gruyère until incorporated. The last two stages may be done in a food processor or mixer.

Grease a baking tray. Use 2 dessertspoons to shape balls of choux: first dip the spoons into boiling water, then turn a piece of dough from one spoon to the other to get a uniform shape about 2.5 cm / 1 inch across. Put these on the baking sheet, allowing room between them because they will puff up about 3 times in size. If you are not filling the gougères, then sprinkle the tops with a little grated Gruyère.

In either case, bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 200°C/ 400°F/gas 6 for a further 10–15 minutes, when they should be puffed and golden.

Remove, pierce the sides with a skewer and return to the switched-off oven with the door slightly ajar for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool. This will keep them crisp.

While they are baking, make the thick béchamel and finish it with the remaining Gruyère. When smooth and amalgamated, cut the tops off the gougères and spoon in this cheese sauce to fill.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

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