I have become reacquainted with an old favorite, and wanted to share it with you, as it would be a great recipe to have during the holidays.  It is Choux.  Choux is a light pastry dough that is made with butter, flour, water, and eggs.  It does not have a baking agent, instead the high heat that it is baked at, created steam, which helps raise the little puffs.  Once you have the basic recipe down, you can use choux to make many sweet or savory nibbles.  It is also a great stand-by recipe for when you need a last minute nibble to serve impromptu guests.

The other night we were opening a bottle of bubbly to try out some new cocktails.  I wanted something to nibble on while enjoying the moment, normally, I would grab some cheese out of the refrigerator.  This night, I wanted something different.  Then I remembered a classic that I use to make often;  savory gougeres.

Gougeres are little puffs of choux dough that has been seasoned with savory herbs, cheeses, and mustard.  For this recipe, I used white cheddar and sage;  I thought the two would be great compliments with the cranberry champagne cocktails.  I was right;  they were a huge hit.  Other favorite combinations are:   gruyere cheese and dijon, blue cheese and black pepper,  and rosemary and lemon zest.  Use your imagination, the list is really endless.

To make choux you will have to be hands on.  It is not a recipe that you can start and then leave on the stove and forget about.  Once you have brought the water and butter to a boil, you will need to mix in the flour, quickly.  It will form a soft ball rather fast;  I keep beating it for a couple minutes (this is a great arm workout as well).  By the time I have finished getting my up arm workout, the dough is cool enough to start adding the eggs.  I find the key to mixing the eggs into the semi-hot dough is to use a wooden spoon;  it gives me more control to mix the dough quickly.  I beat in each egg separately, and do not add the next one until the dough is a little glossy.  After I have mixed the dough, I then stir in my savories.

Some bakers like to pipe the dough onto their baking surface.  I like to use two teaspoons and put little spoonfuls of dough on the baking sheet.  They do get larger when baking, so keep this in mind when making your little puffs.  I usually keep them the size of the teaspoon I am using.  Bake and enjoy.

Simple isn’t it?  I cannot wait to hear what flavors you come up with making these warm little bites.

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Recipe:  Basic Choux
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
Heat the oven to 425.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
In a large saucepan bring the water, salt and butter to a boil.
Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the flour using a wooden spoon.  Turn off the heat.  Continue beating the mixture vigorously until the dough comes together.
Add the eggs one at a time.  Beat with the wooden spoon until the mixture is glossy; then add the next egg and repeat.
Using a pastry bag or two small spoons, put little amounts of dough on the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.
Bake for 10 minutes, and then lower the heat to 375.
Continue baking for 20 – 25 minutes, until they are golden brown.
Serve warm.
Eat.

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Recipe:  White Cheddar and Sage Gourgeres
  • basic choux recipe
  • 1/2 cup grated white cheddar
  • 1/8 cup fresh sage, minced
Make the basic choux recipe as above.
After beating in the last egg, mix in 1/4 cup of the cheese and the sage.
Mix well. Continue the recipe as mentioned above.
Before baking sprinkle each little puff with a small amount of the remaining cheese.

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