French cuisine isn’t really built for snacking, but when it comes to gougères, everyone is ready to make an exception. These delicious cheese puffs are a real treat.
Pronounced “gou-jaire”, there is no English word for them, nor an english recipe equivalent. Gougères are small, hollow pastry puffs made with a doughy mixture of eggs, butter, flour, and cheese. It’s basically puff pastry baked with cheese inside and it’s amazing. The French cheese balls, if you will.
The cheese puffs are crisp on the outside, and slightly soft on the inside. They are a great as an hors d’oeuvres or appetizer, or even a light snack. They can be served hot or cold, although I do tend to prefer them warm.
And they are amongst the easiest and most delicious appetizer recipes, you’ll ever make. They also store easily, so you can make them in advance and serve them when you are ready.
There are various types of pâte à choux (choux pastries) in France, with gougères being the most famous of the savory ones filled with cheese. You may be more familiar the sweet viennoiserie and dessert versions of choux à la crème or pâte à choux sucrée that are filled with cream and sugar.
The Gougères recipe is said to come from the Burgundy wine region, where they were served cold as a snack when tasting wine in cellars. A gougère bourguignonne is actually a large gougère in the shape of a pie, rather than individual balls as finger food.
Every May, the town of Flogny-la-Chapelle in Burgundy celebrates the feast of the gougère with a festival featuring various fêtes, competitions, and exhibitions.
So with all that let’s get to our favorite French appetizer, the gougères, shall we? Allons-y!
- Mistakes to avoid
- Recipe substitutions
- Frequently asked questions
Mistakes to avoid
Now, while the gougères recipe is relatively straightforward, there are a few common errors that may cause the dough to not rise. Here are the most common miskates when making the gougères, and how to fix them:
1. Too many eggs
If your gougères don’t rise properly, one of the reasons may be that you have added too many eggs. While the eggs will bind the dough together, it also may make the dough to puff properly.
If you are using large eggs, add three eggs into the mixture first, and hold off on the final egg to see how the dough is turning out, before adding it in.
2. Too watery to rise
If the dough has too much water or milk, it will not rise. Make sure the dough has a thick consistency before attempting to make the pâte à choux balls.
If the mixture is too watery, put the saucepan on low heat and stir so that some of the water evaporates off and the dough becomes thicker in texture.
3. Too much cheese in mixture
As tempting as it is to add more cheese, you will end up with rather flat gougères if you overestimate the ratio. This is why dry cheeses like gruyère are used, making the gougères crispy on the outside. (You can also use parmesan as I mention below.)
4. Adding eggs before doughy mixture has cooled
Another common problem occurs when you add the eggs to your hot water and flour mixture before it has cooled. If the mixture is too warm, the eggs will cook in the dough, and not blend very well. You will end up with little bits of omelette in the mixture, that refuse to rise in the oven.
Let the mixture cool before you add the eggs. Since you are preparing it in a saucepan, you can always heat up the mixture later if necessary, (if your dough is too watery).
5. Big gougères that are not properly cooked
As tempting as it is to make large gougères, you should note that it is harder for the insides to cook and puff properly if the gougères is too big. You can use a cookie scoop to make the gougères, but be sure to use the smallest size scoop available.
5. Too close together on pan
You want to use up all your mixture, by making plenty of gougère pâte à choux balls. However, do not crowd the balls close together on the baking pan. Leave some space between each ball so that they can properly expand, using two baking sheets if you need to, depending on the size of your oven.
6. Oven not hot enough
And finally, another way the gougères can go flat is if the oven is not hot enough. You want the outside to rise and be crispy, so the best way to do that is to pre-heat the oven at 400°F (200°C) for at least 5-10 minutes depending on your oven, before placing the gougères in for baking.
For a lighter version of gougères, you can substitute the milk for more water of the same quantity.
In terms of cheese, the traditional recipe calls for gruyère cheese which is a French cheese, but you can also use, comté, emmental, Italian parmesan or Swiss gruyère.
Also, the gougères are not usually spicy, but for a bit of an extra kick, you can add some cayenne pepper to the dough, depending on your personal tastes.
Frequently asked questions
What to serve with gougères?
What drinks to serve with them?
Can you freeze them?
Yes, you can freeze the gougères by placing them outside at room temperature for 1 hour, and then in placing them in a freezer bag.
To defrost them, place the frozen gougères in an oven at 285°F (140 °C) for around 15-20 minutes.
- 1 cup of flour (150g)
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup of grated cheese (eg. gruyère)
- 80g of butter
- 1/2 cup of milk (12.5cl)
- 1/2 cup of water (12.5cl)
- pinch of grated nutmeg
- pinch of salt and pepper
- (Optional) Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Cut the butter into small pieces
- Put the water, milk, and butter in a saucepan and warm for a few minutes.
- Once off the heat, add the flour to the bowl with the water and melted butter and bat vigorously till smooth.
- Let the mixture cool for a few minutes.
- Add the eggs one by one, mixing well.
- Add the grated Gruyere, nutmeg, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to the mixture.
- Mix thoroughly until it has a doughy consistency.
- Pre-warm the oven at 400°F (200°C).
- Make small round balls with the dough using a cookie scoop or your hands, and place on a lined baking tray.
- Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 171mgSodium: 270mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 11g
Note: We are not certified nutritionists and these estimates are approximate. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This website is written and produced for entertainment purposes only.
If you enjoyed that, check out our other classic French recipes that are easy to prepare. Bon appétit and à bientôt !
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