These gougeres go back to the earliest days of The French Laundry. It was always one of my favorite moments of the day when, just before service, they came out of the oven and filled the kitchen with their comforting aroma. They are basic and delicious.
As with the cream puffs, we pipe these into silicone molds to ensure that they are uniform, freeze them, and then bake them. It’s a great trick. Like the cream puffs, the unbaked gougeres can be frozen for up to 1 month, allowing you to bake as many or as few as you like at a time. We often pipe Mornay, a rich cheese sauce, into the centers of the baked gougeres for an over-the-top canape.
- Yield: 4 Dozen bite-size Gougeres
- 1½ tbsp ½ cup (144 g) Water
- 2.2 ounces (63 g) Unsalted butter
- 0.12 + ½ tsp (1.8 g) Kosher salt
- 0.12 + 1/16 tsp (0.3 g) Freshly ground black pepper
- 2½ tbsp ½ cup (90 g) All-purpose flour
- 1½ tbsp ½ cup (150 g) Eggs
- 1 cup (63 g) Shredded aged Gruyere
- Put the molds on a sheet pan and spray very lightly with nonstick spray. Set up a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Combine the water, butter, salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan, place over medium heat, and stir to combine as the butter melts (Starting at too high a temperature will evaporate some of the water before the butter has melted.) Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat and, with a stiff heatproof or wooden spoon, stir in all of the flour. Continue to stir for about l½ minutes, until the mixture has a paste-like consistency, then place over medium heat and stir rapidly for about 1 minute, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean; the dough should be glossy and smooth but not dry.
- Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix on low for about 30 seconds to release some of the moisture. Slowly begin adding the eggs, 50 grams/3 tablespoons at a time, beating until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next one. Continue adding the eggs, mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl when pulled with the paddle but then grabs back on again.
- Increase the speed to medium and mix for 15 seconds to be sure all of the eggs are incorporated. Stop the mixer. When the paddle is lifted, the dough should form a bird’s beak it should hold its shape and turn down over itself but not break off. Add the cheese and pulse to incorporate.
- Fill a spray bottle with water. Transfer the dough to the pastiy bag and pipe it into the molds, filling each cavity. If the tops are uneven, dip your finger in water and smooth them.
- Freeze the gougeres for about 4 hours, or until firm enough to be removed from the molds easily. (The gougeres can be frozen for up to 1 month.)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (standard); if you will be baking more than one sheet of gougeres, position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line one or more sheet pans with Silpats, depending on the number of gougeres you are baking.
- Unmold the gougeres and arrange on the sheet pan(s), leaving about 1 inch between them. Spray the gougeres lightly with water. Place in the oven, immediately lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. If you are baking two sheets, rotate the pans after 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for about 10 minutes, until the gougeres are light and feel hollow.
- If you break one open, the center should be completely cooked. Set the pan(s) on a cooling rack and cool completely before filling or freezing.
- To serve warm, put back in the oven for about 5 minutes.