Ok, I’ll be completely honest. While this appetizer is made from relatively simple ingredients, it is hands down one of the favorites of any cruise. When people ask me what they are, and I say “Gougeres,” the standard response is “what are those?” My answer, hot cheese puffs and there’s a collective cry of “Oh my GAWD!”
This latest batch was featured for one of the cocktail hours aboard the Pacific Shadow during the filming of our San Juan Cruise episode. I served them as part of an hors d’oeuvres platter featuring boar and duck charcuterie from D’Artagnan Foods as well as Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar Cheese.
While they are very impressive to serve, they are also easy to make. Just a mixture of milk, butter, flour and egg — I mean, what else do you need — plus a heaping amount of cheese, traditionally Gruyere. But, I also vary the cheeses, depending on my mood, even incorporating Blue cheeses when I feel like it. I nearly ALWAYS serve them with green apple slices along with the crackers and other charcuterie. Grapes are excellent, too, but there’s just something about Gruyere and green apples, not gonna lie.
You can make these ultra-fancy by using a pastry bag and a star tip to pipe the mixture into pretty shapes. Or, as I usually do, I just use my favorite small spoon to make attractive mounds of the mixture on a prepared baking sheet, leaving space between them. Just like a Yorkshire pudding or a popover, you start these babies at a higher heat, then reduce the heat to finish baking. You want them to be firm to the touch and slightly golden when you take them out of the oven. Then, set your timer and see how fast it takes for your guests to devour them! See my notes for other variations you can use and, as always, feel free to play. What’s food good for if not to stimulate creativity…oh, yeah and bring people together in our most common shared pastime!
I promised the guests of the San Juan Cruise that I’d share the recipe with them, so while I’m doing that, I’m also sharing it with you. I hope you enjoy!
- Pastry bag and large star tip, if using.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 lg eggs, at room temperature
- 4 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk and the butter and bring to a boil. Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir quickly with a wooden spoon. Stir until mixture is smooth and pulls away from the side of the pan, about 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and stir in eggs, one at a time, making sure the egg is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next. When all eggs are added, stir in the cheese until combined.
- Pipe mixture onto prepared baking sheet, roughly 2 inches apart. If not piping, use a small spoon to place a walnut-sized amount of mixture onto sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 400°, then reduce heat to 350° and continue to back for an additional 20-25 minutes, rotating sheet 1/2 way through baking, until they are firm to the touch and lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven and serve warm.