You would think that something made with butter, cheese and country ham might be a little on the heavy side, right? But gougères are delightful little cheese puffs made with light as air pastry and starring heavenly Gruyère cheese. They are little bites of sinful goodness, that’s what they are.
Fun and easy to make, gougères are prepared using a choux pastry, which is a very simple dough made from butter, water, flour, salt and eggs. Once the gougères are popped in the oven, the moist dough steams and puffs up the pastries, so that they are crispy on the outside, but moist and chewy on the inside. Gougères are best enjoyed hot from the oven, preferably with a glass of wine or the cocktail of your choice. Whip up a batch next time you’re having a cocktail party, then just heat them up right before serving time. Or make them instead of dinner. Mais, oui!
The little bits of country ham are my Southern touch, but gougères are just as lovely without the ham. You may also add a tablespoon of your favorite herb, freshly minced—I think thyme or chives would be lovely. My cook’s hints: Gather all your ingredients together and grate the cheese before you start prepping the dough. Make sure to let the dough cool for a couple of minutes before you add the eggs—you don’t want the eggs to cook. Beat each egg into the dough really well, until it’s fully absorbed. The dough will be nice and smooth.
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons butter, diced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, chilled
- 1 cup (packed) grated Gruyère cheese
- ¼ cup country ham, diced fine
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- A small handful of grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat to 400°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Heat the water, butter, and salt to simmer in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts.
- Add flour all at once and stir with gusto until the dough forms a ball, pulling away from sides of pan. Keep stirring vigorously until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and let the dough cool for a few minutes.
- Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat in eggs 1 at a time until fully absorbed into the dough.
- Stir in the cheese, country ham, and pepper.
- Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart.
- Bake gougères for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375°F and continue baking until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes, turning the pans halfway through baking so that they brown evenly.
- Serve hot or warm.
- The gougères can be made ahead and rewarmed in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Or freeze and reheat as needed.