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Gougères - French Cheese Puffs

Gougères [goozhair] are savory choux pastry with cheese - a specialty from Burgundy (France), traditionally made with Gruyère. These are mainly served as aperitifs.

My first taste of gougères was made by my mom-in-law who is quite a great cook. At the first bite, I fell in love with it immediately. It is so rich in flavour and I love that crunchy cheese toppings with the softness inside. It is very hard to stop eating it after the first one - which is probably a tragedy for your diet. Ever since then, I have always wanted to try making some myself but I didn't have the time and also I thought it was very difficult to do. Surprisingly it wasn't as complicated as I thought. In fact, it is very simple and easy to do and it doesn't take very long to get the batter ready for baking. If I can do it pretty quickly even with my baby girl clinging to my legs all the time, you can do it in a shorter time than me.:-)

This recipe is taken from my mother-in-law's favourite cook book which is an old classic : Cuisine et Vins de France by the famous Curnonsky.

Gougères

(taken from Cuisine et Vins de France - Curnonsky)

Ingredients
  • 8 eggs (for the dough)
  • 1 egg (for glazing, optional)
  • 500 ml milk
  • 120 g butter
  • 250 g flour
  • 200 g gruyère or comté or any strong flavoured cheese (I guess old cheddar would do)
  • 2 tbsp thick cream (crème fraîche, optional)
  • 5 g salt
  • A pinch of pepper
Directions
  1. Cut the cheese in small cubes/dice.
  2. Put the butter, milk, salt, pepper in a pot and bring it to boil.
  3. Once boiled, remove pan from the heat and add in the flour. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon till the mixture is smooth and satiny.
  4. Put the pot back on heat (hot), stir it vigorously till the dough doesn't stick to the pot or the wooden spoon. This is to dry the mixture.
  5. Take it off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
  6. Stir in the eggs one at the time without stopping. Make sure that each egg is well incorporated into the dough before adding the next.
  7. Mix in 125 g cheese to the dough mixture and stir till it is well blended.
  8. Add in the cream and mix it well.
  9. Drop one level of tablespoon of mixture at the time (spaced them out) onto the baking paper on a baking tray and brush a bit of battered egg on top of each ball. Then sprinkle some diced cheese on top of it.
  10. Bake in over at 200°C (400°F - gas mark 6) for approximately 20 minutes.
  11. The gougères should be gold brown, crunchy yet soft on the outside and moist on the inside. It can be taken warm or room temperature but always freshly baked. Be careful not to overcook them !
Gougères cheese puffs ingredientsGougères dough mixtureGougères
The Verdict

My mom-in-law said : "wow! Ils sont beaux. Mmm...félicitations. Ils sont bons et très bien réussi. Bravo!" (translation : wow! They turned out so beautifully. Mmm...congraulations. They are very good and perfectly done.) Didn't get any complaint and the whole batch disappeared in a rather short time, so I guess it was a success:-)

Pierre and I felt that it would have tasted even better if we had added more cheese. And that the last batch of gougères baked with grated cheese on top tasted best as it had a very nice cheese aroma and crispy top.

Note

Be warned: making these puffs using a wooden spoon needs a lot of muscle work. I did it like my MIL - use an electric mixer. I was tempted to do it manually but my MIL warned me that I will have a sore arm if I went down this road. Thank goodness, I listened to her: I could literally feel the pain of my poor hand held mixer - it was going fast at first and then laboured with great pain. My arms got tired just holding on to it !

Cheese: any type of strong cheese would do. We used cantal for our gougères because of its somewhat strong flavor, but you can experiment with whatever you have around (old blue cheese is also an option). The cheese can also be grated instead of cutting it into small cubes, making the puffs more homogenous but loosing the chunks of melted cubes.

Regarding eggs, my MIL used 6 big eggs whereas I used 8 medium size eggs. And the beating of the eggs, I followed my MIL advice - beat them all together at once. Glazing of the gougères is optional. My mom-in-law (MIL)and I baked ours without glazing and it still tasted very good. As for the thick cream, my mom-in-law always bakes hers without it. I baked mine with it just to see if there is any differences but I found none.

Gougères puffGougères
35 comments.
#1, by tigerfish (06/18/2007)

They looked perfectly baked. Wow! Feeling like having some....oh...*stomach growling*

#2, by anh (06/19/2007)

This is one of the most dangerous foods to make - I simply cannot resist them! Yours turn out excellent! Well-done!

#3, by tyree white (06/19/2007)

Oh my, so fresh and tastely looking.

#4, by wokandspoon (06/19/2007)

Yum. That looks like a great snack!

#5, by Tummythoz (06/19/2007)

Beautiful gems! Can I have a batch?

#6, by eastmeetswestkitchen (06/19/2007)

These look so good!

#7, by Linda (06/19/2007)

these turned out beautifully!

#8, by Jaded (06/19/2007)

OK, now THOSE look delicious. I'm no baker, but I might give this recipe a try.

#9, by The Cooking Ninja (06/19/2007)

@anh: Thanks for dropping by.
@tigerfish: sure, come over my place any time and have some.
@tummythoz: yes definitely if u can fly yrself over to France.;-)
@eastmeetswestkitchen: Thanks for dropping by.:-)
@linda & jadded: Thanks for dropping by. Jadded: if you did try it, please let me know how yours turn out.:-)

#10, by Little Corner of Mine (06/19/2007)

Wow! I agreed with the others, so yummy looking!

#11, by aria (06/19/2007)

yes i could just pop them 1, 3, 6, 11... mmmm

i''ve herd of these before but also thought they would be way yoo complex, you have insoired me cooking ninja!

#12, by Lynn (06/20/2007)

Those look wonderful. Your mother-in-law sounds like a gem to share her recipes and help you make them!

#13, by Tummythoz (06/20/2007)

Oui! Oui! Munch munch
*sigh* what a sweet dream I had ..

#14, by Carol (06/20/2007)

These Cheese puffs look really yummy, the perfect tea time snack!

#15, by Kelly Mahoney (06/20/2007)

So wait, I can get something that looks like this with just those simple ingredients AND a workout from mixing it?

I'm in.

#16 (06/20/2007)

Your mom in law better said, more more please !:) I can smell them from here..cheese puffs looked great:-) Been seeing a few recipes with gruyere cheese, will definitely have to try this sometime, thx !:)

#17, by MeltiingWok (06/20/2007)

Oopss..got over excited w/your cheese puffs, I forgot to login, it's me hahah, cheers !:)

#18, by The Cooking Ninja (06/20/2007)

@aria: Let me know how yours turns out.:-)
@lynn: Yes, I'm very lucky to have such a generous and kind MIL. She reminds me so much of my mom.:-)
@kelly mahoney: yep - a great arm workout. Isn't it great?;-)
@meltingwok: hehehe...It's great to bring these for parties.

#19, by fatboybakes (06/22/2007)

hey, is the pastry more or less same as choux pastry, or at least the same method as making it? i MUST try this, coz my kids LOVE anything with cheese, and i've a block of old cheddar that needs to be used soon.

#20, by The Cooking Ninja (06/22/2007)

@fatboybakes: Thanks for dropping by my blog. Yes, it's choux pastry. Hope your kids love it as much as we do.:-)

#21, by keropokman (06/23/2007)

ey ey, fedex some over leh, i lazy to make it myself.:-)
maybe get my sis to make it using your recipe!

#22, by eat me, delicious (06/27/2007)

mmmmm wow those look amazing!!! i saw a recipe for these months ago and wanted to make them but never did. you've reinspired me.:-)

#23, by The TriniGourmet (06/27/2007)

OH YUM! Choux pastries are standard fare in Trini bakeries, usually filled with fish, chicken, or cheese, but i've never seen them quite like this. must try!

#24, by fatboybakes (07/06/2007)

cooking ninja, thanks, i did try this, it was a hit, the kids finished it all (1/2 recipe). thanks again!!!

#25, by The Cooking Ninja (07/06/2007)

Great to hear that your kids love it:-) Told you, it's kinda addictive once you pop one into your mouth, you can't stop eating them.;-)

#26, by Peter (07/09/2007)

Now I have a use for that forte cheddar in my fridge!

#27, by Khunying (08/11/2007)

This will be a good snack for my son. I will try it and will let you know. Thanks,

#28, by The Cooking Ninja (08/11/2007)

@Khunying: My 1 year old daughter loves it.:-)

#29, by Roxanne (12/18/2007)

I'm making this for my french class they are going to come out wonderful!

#30, by The Cooking Ninja (12/19/2007)

@Roxanne: So how did it went? Did they come out great? Did your classmates like it?:-)

#31, by Nick (11/18/2008)

I made these and i couldn't stop eating them.

#32 (11/19/2008)

@Nick: Glad that you like it:-) Yeah, they are pretty addictive once u pop one in your mouth.;-)

#33, by mycookinghut (01/14/2010)

This looks really good! Will give it a try!

#34, by falldeaf (01/19/2010)

I made these and they turned out pretty well, thanks for the recipe. Two things though, they looked perfect in the oven just before the timer went off but just after I took them out they went flat. Did I do something wrong? Also on step 7 when you mix in the cheese, is it supposed to be hard when you put it in? The mixture was too cold to melt the cheese enough to make it mix in. It was just a batter with cubes of cheese in it. Is that they way it is supposed to be?

#35, by The Cooking Ninja (01/19/2010)

@falldeaf: hmm...I never had that problem when I made them. Very strange. The puff does flatten just a little bit after a long while outside the oven. Yes I mix the small cubes of cheese as it is (no melting). Yes it is a batter with cubes of cheese in it. If you like, you can grate the cheese which will give you a smoother batter. Hope this helps.