Swiss Cheese & Thyme Gougères
A gougères is a French pastry made with cheese. The dough is called pâte à choux and it's the same dough used to make eclairs, crullers and beignets. Instead of filling the pastry with a sweet pastry cream or deep frying them before a sugary bath, you fold in a bunch of cheese and bake them. This is an easy appetizer to have on hand when guests arrive to your home. They can be made up to 1 day in advance and reheated right before show time. These cheese puffs are best served straight out of the oven.
SWISS THYME GOUGERES:
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup of water
1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, cracked in a small bowl
1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Baby Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon of French thyme
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. This recipe can make 18-24 gougères, depends on how big you make them. So plan your baking sheets accordingly.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, sugar, salt and water. Do not let the water come to a boil. You just want to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar and salt. Cut the butter into pieces for easier melting.
As soon as the butter is melted, dump in the flour all at once and use a wooden spoon to incorporate the mixture. The dough will become very stiff. Keep stirring vigorously until the dough loses its shine and it starts to leave a film at the bottom of the pan, about 3-5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and use a hand beater to beat the dough for a few seconds. This allows the dough to cool slightly before adding the eggs. On medium low speed, add the eggs, one at a time.
Once all the eggs have been added, increase the speed on the hand beater for about 20 seconds or until the dough is shiny.
Using the wooden spoon, fold in the cheese and the thyme.
Fill a pastry bag with the dough. I get my pastry bags online from Webstaurant.
Pipe 1 1/2 inch balls onto the parchment paper. If you find the dough has a peak, simply wet your finger with water and press down the tops.
Place the baking tray(s) in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the dough balls have puffed up and are slightly brown. Then turn the oven down to 325 degrees and continue to bake for 20-25 minutes until the dough balls are fully brown. Rotate the baking sheets once or twice. Switch the sheets between racks and spin the pans around 180 degrees.
Let the pastries cool until they are easy to handle and serve immediately.
PREPARATION TIP: I mentioned above, these puffs can be made 1 day ahead of time. Let them cool completely and store them in an air tight container. When you are ready to serve, preheat the oven to 300 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes or until they are crispy.