Recently on a wine tour through the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits areas in the Burgundy region in France, we stopped to admire the Romanée-Conti vineyard, one of the smallest (barely 2 acres) but one of the most expensive ($4,500+ a bottle!). Our tour guide appeared with a bottle of Burgundy Cremant (a sparkling wine made in Burgundy with about half the pressure of champagne so many less bubbles) and a basket of gougères, those wonderful cheesy, light puffs of dough that meld perfectly with a bubbly Champagne, Cremant or Sparkling Wine. Though as my friend Emma says, everything goes well with Champagne. I must agree.
I spent the past few days with Emma & Don on their barge cruising down the Loire River in the Burgundy region. The first time I visited them last year, for some bizarre reason, they (and I) thought I could cook…mistake #1. I made gougères that came out like hockey pucks. Should they have mistakenly been thrown at someone, they could easily have put an eye out or I could have become the official supplier to the NHL. Luckily neither happened. Needless to say, I was very hesitant to repeat this fiasco but Emma insisted so I obliged. There must have been a gougères angel on my shoulder as they came out beautifully: light, airy, crisp outside, not soggy, golden brown. And to drink with it…Champagne of course! Cheers!
250 ml (9 oz) water
110 g (4 oz) butter, cut into small pieces
pinch of salt
140 g (5 oz) flour
110 g (4 oz) Comte cheese, shredded
1 egg + 1 tbsp milk (or water) for egg wash
* this is the exact same recipe for pâte à choux. to make gougères, you simply add cheese!
1. put the water, butter and salt into a pot and bring to a boil.
2. let the butter melt over a low flame, then bring it to a boil. when the mixture reaches a boil, take it off the heat and add the flour all at once and stir to incorporate with a wooden spoon. it is important that you don't let the water boil too long as this recipe is all about the liquid to dry proportions.
3. put the pot back on to medium heat and stir vigorously for 30 seconds to a minute or until the mixture thickens and forms a ball that pulls away from the pan. continue stirring for another 1-2 minutes. the point of this is to cook out the moisture so that the dough can absorb as much of the eggs as possible.
4. take the pot off heat and move mixture to a clean bowl.
5. add the eggs one at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon, fully incorporating it before the next egg is added. you can also use a mixer with a paddle (we couldn’t in cooking school so we all had very tired arms). the mixture should be firm but smooth and it’s done when you can run your finger through the batter and it leaves a channel that fills in slowly. stir in most of the cheese. leave some to sprinkle on top.
6. Pipe or spoon, depending on the size and shape you want, onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I use a spoon for gougères and make them more rustic looking.
7. brush the choux gently with egg wash and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. (optional)
8. bake at 400°F/ 200°C/#6 for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
9. turn down oven to 300°F/ 150°C/#4 for another 5-10 minutes to dry out. remove from the oven when they feel dry, light and hollow. let cool.
bon appetit de paris!