Friday, July 31, 2009

Gourgères: A Girl's Best Friend

I always wanted to be one of those girls who casually produces a tray of cheese puffs, tea breads, or cocktail nibbles when neighbors pop by. The problem is -- it's not the 1950's, it is LA -- neighbors just don't pop by, and sadly, that kind of kitchen magic only happens in old movies -- unless you have a freezer full of gourgères. Cheesy, airy, bites. Gourgères --a classic French (Burgundy) treat usually made with rich Gruyère cheese -- is one of the few foods, along with peas and popsicles, that don't suffer from a stay in the freezer. Perfect for busy nights, making ahead for parties, and unexpected guests.
Bring 1 cup water (or 1/2 cup water 1/2 cup milk), 6 TB butter, and a large pinch of salt to a boil. Add a heavy 3/4 cup flour and stir with a wooden spoon over low heat until dough pulls away from the side of the pot and batter has dried out a bit -- about 2 - 3 minutes total. Put the cooked dough in a bowl, let cool 5 minutes then beat in 3 large eggs, one at a time, each until fully incorporated. Stir in a good pinch of black pepper, a sprinkle of nutmeg, and about 3/4 cup of shredded cheese. To shape you can put the dough in a piping bag and pipe out tablespoon size mounds on lined baking sheets -- or make free-form puffs by dropping batter off a tablespoon. In either case space the dough about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with another 1/4 cup shredded cheese and bake about 20-25 minutes (check after 20 or so) at 400º. Serve hot or cool and freeze to reheat at 350º (about 10 minutes) as your super-hostess secret weapon.
Once you've got them down there is no end to the kitchen wizardry that starts with gourgères (well, Pâte à Choux pastry to be exact). Blue cheese, herbs, sausage or crisp bacon are great batter additions -- or when they are hot and ready you can slice and fill with mushrooms, ham, smoked salmon or whatever strikes your fancy for lighter-than-air mini cocktail sandwiches. Leave out the cheese, pepper, and nutmeg -- maybe beat in an extra egg and you have fluffy cream puff shells. Make the batter with all milk fill with ice cream and dip in chocolate sauce . . . profiteroles.
Homemade kitchen magic from flour, water, butter, and eggs.


  1. another lazy Southern California late evening magic hour