This recipe is no sophisticated reprocessing of a classic recipe, but the change of French cheese in the original recipe for such a Spanish native cheese like manchego infuses the puffs with such a rich taste that I wanted to share it. For those who do not know about gougères, they are small choux dough balls, basically very similar to sweet choux puffs like profiteroles, but tiny, savory and with cheese. They are soft and very light, because they are almost hollow. They are typical from the Burgundy region and are usually had as an appetizer to accompany the wine, including in wine tastings. The French are genius when it comes to food, oh là là. Concerning my culinary tastes, I am quite a Francophile… Everyone has a dark side. And I assure you these little puffs, like all small bites, are eaten by the dozen. You could eat tons. Well at least I could…
I have used the recipe in the Tartine book, the ever famous pastry shop in San Francisco, that I have modified only slightly. If you do not know the book, I highly recommend it. All the recipes I have tried have turned out to be a success. Making choux dough may seem a bit scary at first, when you’ve never even attempted it, but I assure you it really is not difficult and the result is well worth it. And with my Thermomix it is a breeze. Lately I have been preparing these puffs quite often whenever we have had guests and they are always a hit.
Gougères with manchego cheese
Yields between 90 and 100 puffs
- 310ml skimmed milk (or a mixture of whole milk and water at 50%)
- 140g unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 140g AP flour (in fact I usually make them with spelt)
- 5 medium eggs
- 130g soft manchego cheese, coarsely grated
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 aditional egg for glazing
- Finely grated manchego cheese for sprinkling (optional)
- Some herbs for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 170ºC if convection type, some 10ºC more if only radiation type.
- To make the choux dough, put the milk, butter and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil (heat to 90°C in the Thermomix, about 5 minutes on low speed). Once the mixture is hot, tip the flour in all at once and, without removing the pan from the heat, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough coheres into a ball and starts to detach from the walls of the pan, about a minute (Thermomix 20 seconds, speed 4).
- Turn off the heat, allow the dough to temper about five minutes and then add the eggs one at a time, stirring well to absorb each time before adding the next egg (in Thermomix speed 4, no time). You will have a soft, sticky dough.
- Add the cheese and mix with a spatula.
- Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- With a silicone spatula, transfer the dough to a pastry bag (you will need at least two batches) with a round nozzle of about 8mm. Close the bag with a clip and, keeping the pastry bag tip at 1cm above the tray, pipe small mounds about 4cm in diameter (you do not have to be very accurate, of course), and leaving 2-3cm between them (although they rise more than expand).(*)
- Beat the aditional egg and gently brush the dough mounds. Sprinkle with more cheese or herbs, if desired. The last time I made them I did not brush them with egg, but just sprinkled with a herbed salt mixture from La Camargue… delicious.
- Bake for 25 minutes, be careful not to let them get burnt. When done, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- If there is still dough left, keep baking for as many batches as necessary and remember that the parchment paper can be reused.
(*) Tips: If the dough is too runny, so much so that it pours out of the pastry bag when you lift it vertically, just let it cool a bit, until the consistency is thick enough to make the mounds. Getting the «feel» of this dough just takes a little practice. On the contrary, if the dough is somewhat thick, so that is a bit hard to pipe, there is nothing really to be done, but it does not mean the gougères will not rise (well, unless the dough has the consistency of cement). They will turn out equally succulent. I advise against the use of silicon sheets on baking trays for these puffs, at least in my case I think that once they prevented my puffs from rising up right. Using parchment paper they blow up divinely like little balloons.
I serve my gougères with various types of charcuterie, I do not know if this is too French, but it is a combination you will not forget…