Let me walk you through the experience of eating a fresh gougère. It's surprisingly light as you pick it up — almost insubstantial — and still hot from the oven. The crispy shell crunches as you pull it open, releasing a puff of savory steam. Then you hit the middle: soft, eggy, and indecently cheesy. Two bites and it's gone. You're going to want to make a batch of these soon — trust me.
What Are Gougères?
Gougères are made from the classic French pâte à choux, with a generous amount of cheese folded into the dough before baking. Believe me — if newbie culinary students still scared of whisks can make this dough, so can you. The dough puffs and then dries in the oven, making for a tender, crisp puff with a hollow center.
I have yet to make gougères for a dinner party and not be met with gasps of delight as I emerge from the kitchen with the still-steaming tray. I love serving them as an alternative to dinner rolls, but they are also light enough to be an appetizer without ruining people's appetite. For potlucks or picnics, I've also stuffed the gougères with deli meat and a few greens to make quick, bite-sized sandwiches.
The Best Cheeses for Gougères
You can use nearly any hard or semi-soft cheese for making gougères from scratch, but drier cheese like Parmesan, Asiago, or Manchego make for a better gougères. With less moisture to drive out during baking, gougères made with these cheeses puff just a little bit better in the oven, making for crispier gougères.
4 Steps for Gougères Success
- Cook the paste until its dry. It's important to cook the dough for a few minutes before adding the eggs; this dries it out and makes it more able to absorb the eggs.
- Use the right number of eggs for your dough. Depending on your flour and the humidity of the day you are making the gougères, you might not need all the eggs. Add the eggs in three additions, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl before the next batch, and checking for doneness. If you scoop up a little bit with your spatula and let it slide back into the bowl, it should leave behind a little "V" of dough on the spatula.
- Give the gougères their space. You might be tempted to squeeze as many gougères together as possible, but once puffed their proximity to each other can cause disaster (they can stick together and prevent each other from expanding). Leave an inch around all sides of your gougères for baking.
- Use two oven temperatures. The two different baking temperatures help the gougères to first puff and then dry into crispy globes.
How To Make Cheese Gougères
What You Need
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (6 ounces), such as Gruyère or Parmesan
2- to 4-quart saucepan
Long-handled wooden spoon
Stand mixer (optional)
Silicone baking mats or parchment paper
- Heat the oven: Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 450°F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
- Boil the water, butter, and salt: Place the water, butter, salt, and mustard if using in a 2- to 4-quart saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring to melt the butter.
- Add the flour: Remove the pan from heat and add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and resembles mashed potatoes.
- Cook the dough: Return the pan to medium-low heat and stir for 3 to 5 minutes to dry out the dough. The dough is ready when it smells nutty, glistens, and is thick enough to hold a spoon upright. A film of starch on the bottom of the pan is normal.
- Cool the dough: Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer or beat by hand with a stiff spatula.) Beat the dough on medium-low speed until it stops steaming and is just warm to the touch, about 1 minute.
- Add the eggs and cheese: Continue beating and add the eggs in 4 additions. Wait for each addition to be absorbed and for the dough to smooth out before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed between additions. In the end, the dough should come together in a very smooth, creamy batter. Beat in the cheese.
- Scoop out the gougères: Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the about 1-inch apart.
- Bake the gougères at high heat: Bake for 5 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature: Reduce the heat to 350°F. Bake until puffed, deep golden-brown, and dry to the touch (the cheese may still be bubbling a bit), rotating the sheets between racks and from front to back halfway through baking, 20 to 25 minutes more. The finished gougères will feel light and hollow when picked up.
- Cool: Transfer the baking sheets to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Re-crisp in a warm oven before serving.
- Make ahead: Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the lined baking sheet as close together as possible without touching. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Freeze until solid, then transfer to an airtight container or a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 2 months.
- Gougères sizes: Make the gougères any size that appeals to you. Teaspoon scoops are a fun party snack or soup topper, while double-sized gougères are nice for making sandwiches or as part of a brunch spread.