Friday, January 2, 2009

Gougeres...A Delicious Start to Our Year!

They are bite size, cheesy, buttery and delicious. I made them for the first time on New Year's Eve, after discovering a recipe for them some time ago. Served in many restaurants as an amuse bouche (or mouth amuser in English), gougeres are basically savory puffs made with pate a choux pastry dough, which is simply a mixture of water, butter, flour and eggs (and gruyere cheese) that is cooked in a pot then piped out into little rounds on a baking sheet and finished off in the oven.
Our evening was a simple affair, family and food. Two of my favorite things.

After our appetites were sated on our eclectic mix of appetizers, we headed out to Pasadena to take in a late night preview of the floats lined up in preparation for the Rose Parade. The array of flowers, fruits, vegetables and seeds coating every inch of these amazing floats is always a sight to behold! And when we returned home, we celebrated the new year by popping a few more of those tasty little morsels into our mouths. If 2009 is anywhere close to being as good as those gougeres, it will be a wonderful year indeed!

adapted from Gourmet

1 C water
1 stick butter
1/4 t salt
1 C all purpose flour
4 extra large eggs
1 1/2 C grated gruyere cheese
2 T finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Lightly spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray (or butter them).

Combine water, butter and salt in a heavy 3-quart stockpot. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring until butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium, then add the flour all at once, stirring until the dough comes away from the sides of the pot, about 30 seconds. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about another minute and a half to remove excess moisture. Remove from heat and let cool for about 3 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon between each addition. Mixture may appear to separate, but it will come back together in the end. It should be glossy and just able to hold soft peaks and fall softly from a spoon. Stir in cheeses, nutmeg and pepper.

Drop by level tablespoonfulls onto prepared cookie sheets or fill a pastry bag (or you can use a ziplock bag that you snip about 1/2 inch from one corner to pipe out little mounds of dough). Pipe 15, 1 inch diameter mounds, one inch apart on each cookie sheet. Bake, switching positions of cookie sheets half way, until puffed, golden and crisp, about 30 minutes total (although if you drop them by spoonfulls, it will take about 15 minutes longer). Serve warm.

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