A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
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.
(taken from Cuisine et Vins de France - Curnonsky)
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.
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.