Today the recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group are Goat-Cheese Mini Puffs or Gougères. An elegant, delicious and uncomplicated savory pastry.
These Gougères or “Windbeutel” (which can be loosely translated as “wind bags”) are very popular around here. I have prepared many different versions, my favorite savory version has grated Parmigiano Reggiano in the batter itself. But we also love them for dessert, filled with a bit of softly whipped cream. For us, Profiteroles are the ultimate impressive dessert. When I made Dorie´s recipe and tasted the Gougères that were light as air, I was delighted because this recipe is definitely versatile enough that it can be adapted to a somewhat sweeter version as well as to a savory version with various fillings.
For these Gougères you start out by preparing a basic Pâte à Choux, a Cream Puff Dough. A very light, twice-cooked pastry usually used for sweets and buns. It is made with flour, salt, butter, eggs, milk and a little sugar (if it is being used for a sweet version). As mentioned, choux pastry can be used to make profiteroles, éclairs and choux puffs and is also the basis of the dramatic dessert Gâteau St Honoré.
Choux pastry has a reputation for being somewhat difficult to master, but in fact it is no bother once you know the proper technique. A pre-heated hot oven is essential to raise and set the choux and if you take it out of the oven before it is cooked thoroughly, which means “firm to the touch”, it will most certainly collapse. Any filling, sweet or savory, should not be added until the last possible moment because it will make the choux pastry sag. I did choose to serve most of my goat-cheese filling “on the side”, so everyone could fill or not fill his/her Gougères as much or as little as they wanted.
I filled a pastry bag fitted with a large star nozzle to pipe the choux pastry onto parchment lined baking sheets to give the Gougères a bit of a fancy look. I baked them for about twenty minutes, let them rest and cool on the baking sheet while preparing the filling made of goat cheese (I used Picandou from France), cream cheese (I used Philadelphia cream cheese) and herbs (I used finely chopped Italian parsley), some freshly ground black pepper and some fine sea salt.
In conclusion, these delicious Goat-Cheese Mini Gougères make a great appetizer or savory alternative to your afternoon tea or coffee cake. They are an elegant treat that the whole family can enjoy.
To see how the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group prepared these delicious little morsels, please click here.