This cheese puff recipe circumnavigates the globe ten times a year. Every well-heeled host knows about them, and every hungry party guest longs for them. The French name and the directions sound daunting, but nothing could be further from the truth. These feathery puffs are so delicate, yet they can anchor any festivity.
1 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup flour
1 cup grated Gruyere or cheddar
Cracked black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil over high heat until the butter is melted. Immediately pour in all the flour and stir for 1 minute over medium heat to evaporate the excess water (even though the dough may seem a bit dry, don't skip this step).
3. Transfer the dough ball to a food processor or standing mixer (strangely, either one works for this recipe). Add the cheese and several generous twists of pepper. With the machine on, add the eggs and mix until incorporated.
4. Using two small spoons, scoop 2 teaspoons of dough at a time, forming a ball. Drop the balls as you make them onto nonstick baking sheet, spacing well apart because these guys are going to puff up. Bake until golden and puffed, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
NOTE: Once the gougeres are cold, they are stale, so do not bake them all at once. If you are having a cocktail party, put the gougeres dough on the baking sheets before start time, and put one tray at a time in the oven so that they are always served warm.