We've already established that France is pretty much my favorite, and that there will be many, many French recipes showing up in the next couple of weeks (and let's be real, always). High up on the lists of reasons I love French food? The pastries. Forever and ever. Amen.
One of the most classic and popular French pastries are cream puffs and eclairs, both of which have a pate a choux dough as their base and then are crammed full of delicious, lightly sweetened and perfectly dainty pastry cream. I've made about a million cream puffs in my time, give or take a few hundred thousand, and so the recipe is comfortable and familiar to me. And if you've never made them before, you should know that it's entirely doable and un-scary.
But today we're making savory puffs with the same basic dough and technique, but also with a little bit of cheese and rosemary thrown in. They're a little bit more appropriate for accompanying your dinner (though I wouldn't object to a sweet puff with a meal either), and would be perfect bread to go with your Coq au Vin.
Now let's talk cheese, another specialty in France. Unfortunately, we don't have a fromagerie in our neighborhood, with more cheese options than could reasonably picked through. The closest thing I've found is the cheese counter at Whole Foods, where I picked up a couple of sheep's milk cheeses a while ago. After practically selling my soul to bring them home, the two little triangles of hard (romano) and semi-hard cheese were hoarded in my cheese drawer for over a month before I found a recipe worthy of them. And these puffs were it.
However, don't think that you've got to blow the budget, rob a bank, or sign over your firstborn to make good puffs (I may be exaggerating a little bit on the price there). I've made these before with a nothing fancy colby-jack blend, and while they were much better with a high quality cheese, they were still amazing with something more economical. Because LITTLE BREAD BALLS OF CHEESE. How can you go wrong?
The recipe is based on the gougeres recipe from The Little Paris Kitchen cookbook, a fabulous compilation of recipes that are both modern and traditional and completely doable in a home kitchen.
Rosemary and Sheep's Cheese Gougeres
Based on the Gougeres recipe in The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
Makes 20-30 cheese puffs
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 7 Tbsp. butter, cubed
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. shredded hard or semi-hard cheese (I used sheep's cheese, but you can also use cow's milk)
- 2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
- 5 eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the water and milk in a medium pan and add butter, salt, and sugar. Place the pan on medium-high heat until the butter is melted. turn the heat down to low and add all of the flour. Beat hard until the dough has the consistency of thick mashed potatoes. Add the cheese and rosemary and continue beating until dough smooth and forms a ball on the spoon.
Turn off the burner and beat until the dough is cool enough to touch. Beat in the first four eggs one at a time, making sure that each one is thoroughly incorporated and the dough is smooth before adding the next. Beat the fifth egg and add a little bit at a time until the dough is is soft but holds it's shape.
Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place dough in a piping bag with a 1/4 inch nozzle and pipe walnut sized balls of dough onto parchment, leaving approximately 3 inches between each puff. If there are any points, dip your finger in water and pat down the points down so that they don't burn during baking. Sprinkle with the shredded garnishing cheese, then bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crispy. To make sure they are done, remove one from the oven, and if it maintains it's shape, the puffs are done. If it begin to flatten and deflate, give the puffs a few more minutes. Serve warm .