Rosemary and Cheddar Gougères a.k.a. “Cheesy Poofs”

I am not a chef. But I do love experimenting in the kitchen, and I’ve been doing it long enough that I’m pretty good at it. I love trying new things, experimenting, and putting my own spin on a recipe I’m testing.

I have never made Gougères before. In fact, I’d never actually heard of Gougères until a couple of months ago when I picked up the Winter edition of Edible Vancouver. I was thumbing through and looking at all the pretty photos, and I stopped dead in my tracks when I came to a photo of a cheesy french pastry. I had to make them.

I was afraid, though. Like many things French, there is a lot of technique involved, but turns out my fears were ungrounded (very similar to my recent experiences with soufflè).

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These may be the tastiest new thing I’ve made in a long time. They are perfect, warm, cheesy pillows of deliciousness. I can’t eat one without thinking about Cartman, but I think a better name for them is Cheesy Poofs, because that is what they are. However, saying  will gougèries make you sound so much more elegant and smart.

This recipe is kind of a chemistry miracle. It has no leavening whatsoever: no yeast, to baking powder or soda. It does have eggs, but that’s it. It’s made with a choux pastry, which is similar to a roux. A roux, you’ll remember, is a cooked-out mixture of butter and flour, which is used to thicken soups, stews or sauces, primarily. A choux adds one more ingredient: water. You would think something made with the base of water, butter,  and flour would be heavy and dense, but it’s quite the opposite. It’s light and airy. The name “choux,” by the way, comes from the fact that when you cut it open, the poofs have layers like a cabbage.

I made these ones with some rosemary from my garden and some nice cheddar, but you can use almost any kind of cheese in here. My next go-around will incorporate blue cheese.

By the way, my kid couldn’t get enough of these–he went completely bonkers for them. Serve them warm, fresh out of the oven–they are best that way.

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Rosemary and Cheddar Gougères or, “Cheesy Poofs”

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 4 large eggs, scrambled
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a mix of sharp cheddar and applewood smoked cheddar)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig fresh or dried rosemary
  • additional egg for an egg wash

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil, stirring constantly.
  2. Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat, and add all the flour at once. Stir constantly for 3 minutes. This mixture is supposed to be lumpy, but mine turned out smooth the first time. The final mixture should be thick and sticky. Remove it from the pot to bowl to cool a little.
  3. In the mean time, beat the eggs. Add the eggs, one tablespoon at a time, to the flour mixture. You can mix or beat by hand, or using a mixer. Once you’ve added all the eggs, beat for an additional 30 seconds. The final mixture should be smooth and glossy.
  4. Mince the garlic. Add a pinch of salt and the stripped off rosemary leaves and mince some more. You want this to be very fine. You may want to mash the garlic and rosemary together with the back of your knife, or in a mortar and pestle. The final result needs to be very, very fine. Add the rosemary, garlic and the shredded cheese to the choux and fold it in.
  5. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment. Using your handy-dandy Cookie Scoop, scoop balls of the dough onto your cookie sheets. Brush with egg wash. Top with more cheese if desired. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the pan and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.

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