This post is sponsored by Weight Watchers Canada. Find out more about the WW Freestyle program, which encourages the freedom to eat the foods you love while nudging you towards healthier choices using the SmartPoints system. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.
With the holidays fast approaching, we all need a few back-pocket recipes that are good for crowds, easy to prepare, and — most importantly — delightfully delicious. This is one of those recipes for me. Gougeres, or French cheese puffs, are made with the classic pate a choux dough. But instead of filling the puffs with cream or custard, you mix some herbs, cheese, and spices into the dough to make savory little appetizers that go down just right with a glass of wine or a cup of mulled cider. I dare you to eat just one!
A couple of notes:
- If you’ve made pate a choux before — perhaps for eclairs or cream puffs — this recipe should feel very familiar to you. I prefer using bread flour and a mixture of milk and water when making pate a choux. The bread flour gives strength to the dough and helps the gougeres keep their shape better. The mixture of milk and water gives the puffs a more tender chew and flavor, but you can also use all water.
- You can substitute other sharp, hard cheeses (or use a mixture) for the cheddar. Part of the fun of this recipe is making it your own: add some cayenne if you like a little heat, or switch out the scallions for other fresh, chopped herbs of your choice.
- You can make smaller, bite-size gougeres if you prefer (this recipe will probably yield 30 or so). Just keep an eye on them in the oven as they’ll likely be done sooner than these large ones.
Smoked Paprika and Cheddar Gougeres
Makes about 15 large gougeres
- 75g water
- 75g milk
- 75g butter
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
- 100g bread flour, sifted
- 150g eggs (about 3 large), room temperature and lightly beaten to combine
- 100g grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/4 c finely chopped scallions
- Preheat the oven to 425F with a rack in the middle and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (I used a 13×18 sheet pan; if yours are smaller you may need two. Bake on the top and bottom racks in the oven).
- Combine the water, milk, butter, sugar, salt, paprika, mustard, and pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a strong simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the mixture is simmering, remove the pot from the heat and dump the flour in all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until the flour is completely incorporated.
- Return the pot to low heat and continue stirring until the mixture forms a ball and a thin film forms on the bottom of the pot, 1-2 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 170F. Immediately transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Mix the dough on low speed for a couple of minutes to release the steam. An instant-read thermometer should read no warmer than 140F (any hotter and you’ll cook the eggs when adding them!). When the dough has cooled sufficiently and with the mixer still on low, add about half of the eggs. Mix until the egg has been completely absorbed, then add more egg about a tablespoon at a time, mixing completely before adding more. When you’ve added most of the egg, check the dough consistency — a finger dragged through it should leave a trough and a peak of dough should form where the finger is lifted. Once the dough passes this test, it’s ready. (You may not need all the egg.)
- Set aside about a quarter of the cheese. Add the remaining 3/4 of the cheese and the scallions to the dough and use a silicone spatula to combine.
- Using a cookie scoop (I used an OXO #40), scoop golf-ball size portions of dough onto the prepared sheet, leaving a couple inches between each. (You can also transfer the mixture to a piping bag pipe out mounds, or use a couple of spoons.) Sprinkle the tops of the gougeres with the reserved cheese.
- Bake the gougeres for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375F and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, or until the gougeres are browned and feel hollow when you pick one up. Avoid opening the oven for the first 20 minutes of baking or the gougeres may collapse. Cool in a slightly ajar oven for about 10 minutes.
- Gougeres are best served still slightly warm from the oven, though I’ve heard you can recrisp them in the oven for a few minutes. Mine have never lasted long enough to test, though…
- Weight Watchers SmartPoints per serving: 4