A friend's celebratory Champagne party inspired me to make gougères, though I had never made them before, and I was a little intimidated by pâte à choux. But armed with a recipe from Dorie Greenspan, I had a feeling they would work out. And boy, did they.
If you've never had them before, gougères are fluffy French cheese puffs made with a savory version of the dough used to make cream puffs and eclairs. I had never thought about making them until I saw a recipe and its persuasive accompanying photo in Dorie Greenspan's book Around My French Table, which mentions gougères pair well with Champagne. A glass of sparkling wine and a warm gougère — what could be more chic?
Though pâte à choux sounds complicated, the procedure itself is straightforward, but having all the ingredients measured, grated and ready to go is essential, as the dough can't sit around. I thought my first attempt at this type of dough would be a little bumpy, but with Dorie's clear, just-detailed-enough instructions, I ended up with a perfectly smooth pâte à choux dough studded with bits of good cheese. (I used a combination of Gruyère and an aged Gouda.)
Once made the dough needs to be immediately scooped out onto a baking sheet, but at that point it can either be baked or frozen and wrapped up for later baking. I baked half immediately and froze the rest. The frozen batch actually turned out slightly better, as the first batch taught me an important lesson: bake until the gougères are not just golden, as the recipe says, but golden-brown. This ensures they are cooked all the way through and won't deflate after a few minutes out of the oven. (The batch pictured above went back into the oven for about 5-7 more minutes to warm up before the party and were just right.)
The finished gougères were light, puffed, cheesy, and received rave reviews at the party. This is one of those recipes that looks impressive, but actually requires very little work and uses ingredients you probably already have on hand. This might be be my new party staple!
• Get the recipe: Dorie Greenspan's Gougères from Epicurious
Do you have any tips or favorite recipes for making gougères?
Related: Spring Appetizer: Herb or Cheese Gougères
(Image: Anjali Prasertong)