Last night, we were invited to a wine tasting party to celebrate our friend’s birthday. I’m not sure what exactly has happened during the last half-decade, but this bunch of college friends has somehow jumped from beer-swilling and beer-pong-tournament-planning to discerning palates and wine tasting. And while our night’s activities might have gotten more sophisticated and our beverage no longer pours from a can, we still drank too much. Apparently, you can take the adults out of college, but you can’t take the college out of the adults.
But we tried, at least. And to do my part in this class-up-our-Saturday-night-trend, I thought I’d make an elegant snack. And I can’t think of a snack more elegant than gougeres. I mean just saying it is elegant. I chose this recipe for blue cheese gougeres because I thought it would pair excellently with the red wines we would be tasting (it did) and because I had an enormous hunk of blue cheese leftover from some other recipe.
Gougeres—which are pate a choux-based—are fairly easy to make. The critical stages can take on a supermarket-sweep-like-frenzy, so I recommend preparing all your ingredients and your baking sheets ahead of time. Doing so will reduce your stress quite a bit. You might also consider forgoing your weight-lifting for the day: the “vigorous” stirring involved here will provide a sufficient arm workout. Gougeres are also very versatile in that they lend themselves to a variety of cheeses and flavors. I loaded these with black pepper, because I think appetizers that feature the stuff tend to beg you to drink red wine with them. Like we needed another excuse last night.
(Click “more” for additional photos and the recipe)
Oregon Blue Cheese Gougeres
King Estate Winery/Stephanie Pearl Kimmel
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached flour, sifted
5 large eggs
1 cup Oregon blue cheese, crumbled (or substitute another blue-veined cheese)
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine 1-1/2 cups of water, butter and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately and add all of the flour at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. When the flour is incorporated, return the pan to the heat for several minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to dry out and pull away from the edge of the pan. Away from the heat, add the eggs one at a time, mixing each one until well blended. The dough should be soft and shiny. Add the blue cheese. Season with black pepper and more salt if needed.
Butter a baking sheet.* Using either a soup spoon** or pastry bag with a large plain tip, make mounds about 2 inches in diameter. Using a pastry brush, paint tops with a glaze of the beaten egg.*** Bake for about 35 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
The puffs are at their best when served warm from the oven, but are also delicious at room temperature. They can be made ahead and frozen, then popped in the oven to reheat just before serving.****
* Rather than buttering the baking sheet, I lined it with parchment paper.
** I used a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon. I think a mini-ice cream scoop would’ve been ideal. Using a tablespoon yielded 60 gougeres (many more than the 24 the recipes states it will yield).
*** After brushing on the egg wash, I cracked some more pepper on top.
**** I made these a few hours in advance and they were indeed delicious when re-heated (10 to 15 minutes in a 350° oven).