Do you love party food? Appetizers, little bits and bites, the best part of a meal in my opinion. Small plate restaurants and tapas places are all the rage so I bet more than a few agree with me. I have a few requirements for these small bites, they can’t be a TON of work… you must have a choice of little bites, if each one is too intricate it gets exhausting fast. They also have to be super flavorful. Since you only get a bite or two, it has to be great!
In that spirit, here is one of my favorites, gougeres (goo-zhairs), cheesy flavorful little puffs that are simple and festive. They are the savory cousin of cream puffs and profiteroles, using a simple dough that starts out in the saucepan and ends up in the oven. Don’t run away they’re really quite forgiving and make you look like a party food rock star. You can serve them as is or fill the airy centers with something, creamed spinach or a little slice of beef and horseradish. You can even make them ahead and freeze them if you’ve planned more than I have! Add dried herbs or spices to the dough as you like. Make larger ones and eat them at breakfast, as I have above. Surprisingly these are really much lighter both in texture and on your waistline than most party bites, especially those involving french pastry!
Parmesan Thyme Gougeres
Makes 16 puffs – but make extra, they freeze well!
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg white
- 5 Tb unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 Tb milk
- 6 Tb water
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 1/8 tsp dried thyme
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- ½ c all-purpose flour
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (shred your own!!!!)
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Combine the water, milk, nutmeg, cayenne, thyme, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. When mixture reaches full boil (butter should be fully melted), stir in flour with a wooden spoon until combined and mixture clears sides of pan. (There should be a film on the bottom of the pan)
Put mixture in another bowl and stir with wooden spoon or electric mixer 30 seconds to cool slightly (or immediately dump into food processor or stand mixer and mix 30 seconds to cool slightly). Beat in the eggs/white one at a time; the mixture will look curdled at first, but by the time you add the last egg it should become smooth. Add in the shredded cheese. Beat for 1 minute. You should have a stiff, smooth batter.
Drop using spoons or cookie scoop or pipe onto sheets with piping bag fitted with smooth tip onto the prepared sheets. Leave about 1 ½” to 2″ between them; they’re going to expand. Bake for about 15 minutes, till they’ve puffed, reduce the temperature to 375 and bake 15 minutes more.
Turn the oven off, crack the door but leave the puffs in the oven for 10 minutes to dry and crisp so they don’t become soggy, then remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool. (Cooled puffs can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours or frozen in zip-lock plastic bag for up to 1 month. Before serving, crisp room temperature puffs in 300-degree oven 5 to 8 minutes, or 8 to 10 minutes for frozen puffs.)