Cheese puffs! And not in an Eric Cartman, “I love Cheesy-Poofs” kind of way.
No, indeed, my friends. I am talking about tastetastic cheese puffs, crusty steamy poofy pastry wrapped around delicious cheese, baked until golden and godlike and perfect. Am I carrying on? Too bad. I know serious noms when I eat them.
As this recipe is from an actual book rather than an online source, I have transcribed the recipe and put it into PDF format for all y’all. Spicy Cheese Gougères, from Holiday Cookies and Other Festive Treats by Linda Collister. Who doesn’t like festive treats? You’re welcome.
After I made these I did a little poking around on the interwebs, and it seems they’re incredibly versatile. If you want to flavor them with something else–thyme and muenster, cheddar and mustard, whatever and whatever–then go for it! That is by far my favorite sort of recipe, one that gives you permission to have your way with it. So sure, if you’re in the mood (or need to use) X cheese and have complimentary Y spice on hand? Go to, by all means. There is also a pretty serious contingent that insists the dough needs to be made with a combination of milk and water, so that’s next on my agenda for things I need to try. But for today, the above recipe is what I had, and what I will continue to work with.
Recommended: Have all of your ingredients pre-measured and ready to roll. Much, much easier to manage. The recipe’s not difficult, but you do have things that take some time to do, like dicing your cheese. You’ve got to take it from this
And who wants to rush when you’ve got buttery water boiling on the stove? Not this girl. Take my word for it, do yourself that favor and prep. Hire a sous chef if you must, but do it.
Anyway, butter, salt, pepper flakes…I couldn’t resist adding a little shot of black pepper too…into the pool!
Don’t let it boil too long; you just want to get the water and butter to become friends. And then? Add the flour.
I am always grateful when a recipe tells you something is going to look terrible at some point in the cooking process, because who wants to look at their future food and have a <blech> moment? When the recipe says, “Don’t worry that the mixture looks a mess,”
The author wasn’t kidding. But it doesn’t take long for it to go from icky sludge to beautiful shiny dough, so just keep stirring and before you know it, you’ll have this.
Don’t add the eggs before the dough has cooled because you don’t want to cook them with the heat of the dough. It won’t take long; browse a Sunday circular and artfully leave hints for presents scattered about the house. By the time you’re done with that, the dough will be ready for the eggs to get beaten in (not in a gang sort of way, so please put all knuckle-enhancing devices to the side) one at a time and once that’s done, the cheese goes in. Yay!
I admit, it took me a minute to comprehend what the author meant when the recipe said, “Using two teaspoons, spoon the mixture into small heaps…”. And then when I took the two teaspoons I though, oh, duh, right. One for scooping out of the mixing bowl, and the other for scraping from the spoon onto the baking tray, so you don’t get it all over yourself. Very tidy, a civilized way to scoop out a civilized nosh. A little topper of grated cheese brings it on home.
Now? These bundles of happy are destined for the oven. I had them in for about thirteen or fourteen minutes and rotated them once halfway through because my oven doesn’t heat particularly evenly, but then…
Victory is mine. Give someone some of these and a bottle of wine for the holidays? You’ll have minions in no time. Enjoy!