Lighter Than Air

In the past few years, my family has taken to celebrating birthdays with brunch at Artisanal. Part of the appeal, aside from the excuse to get together and celebrate is the prix fixe brunch—with seemingly limitless options—and the optional wine pairing. However, I’m predictable, and no matter what else I order, I always begin with the gougères. They’re almost impossibly light and prefect for sharing.

Of course, birthdays only come once a year, and I’m not about to start have 3-course brunches on a regular basis—not that I haven’t thought of doing that.

Instead, it seems if I want gougères, my best option is to make them myself.

Luckily, it’s far easier than it seems, particularly after mastering the art of making a quick choux. The trick here is to use an electric mixer, which allows you to combine the eggs quickly, forming the a dough that’s glossy and filled with air.

If you’re lucky enough to have a mechanical pastry bag (in my case, another birthday treat), than you can make quick work of assembling your dough. And, if not, a couple of teaspoons will do the trick just as well.

Don’t worry too much about how pretty your gougères look—they won’t last too long on the serving dish anyway.

While my family might leave glasses of wine unfinished or eggs half eaten, the gougères are always quickly grabbed up. Serve these at your next gathering and I trust the same will happen for you.


adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

Traditionally gougères are made with Gruyere. Since I didn’t have either on hand, I substituted cheddar, which works equally well. If you want to go the more traditional route, use it instead.

1/2 cup, plus 3 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
4 TBS (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup grated cheddar
2 eggs
dash tobasco sauce
1/4 tsp paprika, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for dusting

Preheat over to 425 F.

In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, salt, sugar and tobasco over a medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and take off of the heat.

Using a wooden spoon, add flour, paprika and ground black pepper and mix until flour and butter mixture are completely combined.

Return the mixture to a medium heat and cook, stirring constantly. When the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a film on the bottom, add in your cheese and mix until the cheese is completely melted. This process should take about 4-5 minutes.

Take the mixture off of the heat and, using an electric hand-held mixure, add an egg and mix, until it’s well incorporated. Once that’s done, add the second and repeat the process. The batter should be smooth and shiny and should form soft peaks when lifted.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and pipe puffs onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. The puffs should be approximately 1″ in diameter and at least 1/2″ apart.

Sprinkle all puffs with paprika and freshly ground black pepper.

Bake 20 minutes, or until puffs are golden, rotating your baking trays halfway through.

Serve immediately.

Makes 30


1 Comment

Filed under Etc.

One response to “Lighter Than Air

  1. your sister

    Don’t you mean EAT IMMEDIATELY?
    (And in my defense, it’s pretty difficult to eat all that bacon and eggs after waking up at noon and already eating the pear crepe appetizer — and part of everyone else’s appetizers — while still saving room for dessert. Amazing that I haven’t gotten fat thanks to that bottomless stomach of mine!)

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