Christmas day started out foggy here so when the bright sunshine burned through the heavy grey clouds it turned into a beautiful day. We haven’t had any rain for quite a while and no snow in the mountains surely bummed out a lot of skiers over the holiday. I can’t remember the last time I took something I baked out of the oven on a bright sunny day so I was pretty excited to grab my camera and head outside to snap a few pictures. Sun glorious sun shining down on my California Style Gougères, hallelujah it really felt like Christmas day! We entertained a small group of family this year, our son, daughter, son in law and their three children. I decided to make a few recipes from Dec 2011/Jan 2012 edition of Fine Cooking. I made the spice rubbed roast beef tenderloin with red wine sauce, the mashed potato and changed it to turnip gratin and the braised fennel with orange. We loved all of these dishes but my favorite was the braised fennel, I will make it again soon and post a few pictures and the recipe.
I make gougères often for an appetizer. I like to use Gruyère cheese although they can be made with different cheeses such as Comté or combined with Gruyère and Parmesan. They can be made small or larger, filled with mushrooms, or meat and served as a hot appetizer. We serve them as an hors d’oeuvre or starter with sparkling wine or Champagne- when we really splurge. Gougères are a French cheese puff which are originally from Burgundy. They are commonly enjoyed served with a Kir or Kir Royal which is white wine or champagne made with a small amount of crème de cassis.
This time I changed things up by using a regular size ice cream scoop to form the gougères and a slightly different recipe from Around My French Table’ since I’m cooking my way through this wonderful cookbook. The recipe for gougères as well as cream puffs can be found here at All Things Considered Considers Cream Puffs and of course in Around My French Tableby Dorie Greenspan. I think the group made this recipe a year ago before I started because I can’t imagine missing this one! I also made a batch of profiteroles with chocolate sauce for dessert using the cream puff dough which worked out nicely. We were given several pints of Graeter’s premium ice cream which included chocolate and peppermint stick flavors so I just had to share the wealth with my kids.
Normally my gougères fresh out of the oven look like these in the photo below that I took on my kitchen table. I make these often using a generous rounded tablespoon of the dough but I was feeling so very generous, I guess, that I pulled the ice cream scoop out of the kitchen drawer and went to work forming the big bun size pictured above. I also used a little trick that I picked up from a friend of mine who is an expert gougère maker, that is to sprinkle a generous pinch of Gruyère cheese on top before placing the tray in the hot oven. They are fairly simple to make but there are a few things to note about the recipe to make things go smoothly especially the first time making these cheesy puffs. It’s important to have all the ingredients measured correctly and ready by the stove before lighting the flame under your medium size heavy saucepan. After bringing the 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, 8 tablespoons butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil, add all the 1 cup flour at once, lower the heat and stir with a wooden spatula for a few minutes until you have a smooth dough. Take the pan off the heat and if you’re feeling strong you can beat each of the large 5 eggs in the dough, one at a time, with your wooden spatula until the dough is shiny. Turning the dough out of the pan into a standing mixer works very well, you can beat one egg at a time into the dough and beat for several minutes until shiny, then add the grated Gruyère cheese(about 5 ounces plus extra set aside for the tops) or combination of 3 to 1 Gruyère -Parmesan is also nice. It’s important to form the dough into balls, which ever size you prefer, as soon as you’re finished adding the grated cheese. Be sure to leave space between the dough balls on the baking sheet especially for the larger ones as they do expand a bit more than their smaller friends. Place the baking sheets lined with silpats or baking parchment into a preheated 425° oven, immediately turn down the oven to 375° and bake for 25 to 30 minutes for the larger gougères. I wouldn’t open the oven to rotate the trays, until they’ve been baking for a good 20 minutes. I never rotate the trays when I bake these, they bake evenly in my oven but I know that’s not the case with every oven, so check to see if the gougères are baking evenly in your oven before rotating the trays. Bake until they are nicely puffed and golden in color. Cool on a metal rack.